When I was a child, my favorite poet was Shel Silverstein. His poems were about silly and unique topics and had a sing-songy rhythm to them that I loved.
I remember my 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Roth, would read us poems while we were waiting to go to music, art or another special. She would grab A Light in the Attic or Where the Sidewalk Ends and would call on one of us to give her a random page number and she would read the poem on that page aloud. I, along with the rest of my class, loved hearing those poems again and again. Some of us even knew what page our favorite poem was on and would always say that number. Many years later when I taught 5th grade, I would do the same thing with my 5th grade students. I can only hope they loved it as much as I did!
Silverstein wrote many great poems, but one that has remained with me in life and something both kids and adults can relate to is called “Whatifs”. Here it is:
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
and pranced and partied all night long
and sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I’m dumb in school?
Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there’s poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk that test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don’t grow talle?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won’t bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don’t grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems well, and then
the nighttime Whatifs strike again!
Has this happened to you? Are you strong and busy during the day and then you try and go to sleep and the “whatifs” come creeping in your head? I know many people are anxious about all kinds of things right now – school, jobs, money, rent, health, isolation, death. It is a very difficult time, there is no doubt.
But, like the saying goes, there is always a rainbow after a storm.
This change of life has had some positives and I could not help but wonder a few things. It is my own “whatifs” without the rhyming! Here we go!
Whatif we continue to volunteer our time to help others?
Whatif we keep talking with our families and having meals together?
Whatif we make the time to call our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles and others once a week to check in on them?
Whatif kids start playing again instead of running from beforecare to school to aftercare to activities?
Whatif we continue to enjoy and appreciate nature and the outdoors?
Whatif we keep playing board games and card games as a family?
Whatif we continue cooking meals at home and doing more things with our hands?
Whatif we continue to pray every single day, asking for God’s help and guidance and thanking Him for keeping our families safe? For the roof over your head? For the food on your table? For the people in your home?
Whatif we keep praying for others?
Whatif we realize that our time on earth is limited?
Whatif we continue to realize the heroism and importance of our nurses, doctors, policemen, military and first responders?
Whatif we finally realize the difference between a need and a want?
What if we continue to be patient with others?
Whatif, when all of this is over, our world is a better place?
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.