I’ve been feeling so stressed! I know it’s important to stay at home to help stop the spread of coronavirus. But being stuck inside with my family and no friends is tough. Do you have ideas to help make this weird time better?
—Stuck at Home in Santa Monica
Dear Stuck at Home,
Wow, I can relate! When this whole “stay-at-home” rule started, I was actually looking forward to the break from school. But when a few days turned into a few weeks, I started getting antsy.
You see, besides my mom, dad, and kitty cats (Charlie and Cow), I also happen to live with twins named Tex and Indi. Usually, they’re totally terrific. But if you take two extremely energetic kindergartners, coop them up inside, and forget to hide their football . . .
“Hey, ’Zona!” Tex called as I was gluing on the last tiny part of my incredibly delicate sundial. “Catch!”
CRASH! I looked up just as the football smashed my sundial into smithereens.
“Nooo!” I shouted. “You’re supposed to say ‘catch’ before you throw, not after!”
“Oops,” Tex said, staring at all the broken pieces. “I didn’t mean to break it.”
“That was a super important science project,” I cried. “I worked on it forever.”
“I’m really sorry,” said Tex. “Indi was busy, and Mom and Dad were busy, and I didn’t have anyone else to play with.”
My mom rushed into the kitchen. “What’s all the commotion about?”
“Tex ruined everything!” I cried.
“I want a friend to play with,” Tex wailed.
Indi joined in. “I’m sad, too!”
“All right,” said my mom. “It’s definitely time for a family meeting. Everyone into the living room right now.”
We had to wait for my dad to finish up a work phone call. And then Indi said, “We can’t have a family meeting without the whole family!” So we had to wait for her to round up Charlie and Cow.
When we were finally just about to start, my dad said, “Hang on! I have to go grab the talking stick.”
My parents showed me the talking stick for the first time when I was a little kid, and at first I thought the stick would really be able to talk. I was pretty disappointed to discover it was just a plain old stick! Anyway, you can talk during our family meetings only if you’re holding the stick. We all get a chance to say how we’re feeling and what we need. Then we have a family brainstorm and write down a list of solutions.
We all took a turn, and as you might have guessed, everyone had lots of feelings and lots of needs. We came up with some great ideas for helping everyone feel less grumpy.
“Wait!” said Tex. “Charlie and Cow need a turn with the talking stick.”
My dad chuckled. “What do you think three meows and a purr mean?”
“I know!” said Indi. “Charlie says he’s bored, and Cow says he needs more chin scratches.”
Some great things came out of that meeting. For example, the kitties started getting lots more chin scratches, and my dad helped me glue my sundial back together. But the very best thing? The meeting gave me the idea to make a book called The Amazingly Awesome Stuck-at-Home Survival Guide.
I wrote down a bunch of ideas for how to get un-stressed and un-bored. Then I called and asked friends for more ideas. Since we’ve all been washing our hands while singing the “Happy Birthday” song, my friend Ollie said we should sing it in a different silly voice every time. We ended up with a giant list of things to do. Here are a few more we came up with:
- Draw a self-portrait with your eyes closed.
- Invent dance moves for your favorite song.
- Write a story about the world’s weirdest pet.
- Do 25 jumping jacks.
Once we had 50 ideas, I drew goofy pictures to go with them. Then I shared the complete guide with my friends. My mom set us up with a group video chat so we could talk about it.
“This is the best!” said Ollie. “We should have a contest to see who can do all 50 ideas first!”
“That sounds good,” said Jasmine. “But don’t you think it’d be more fun if we didn’t compete?”
“I don’t know. I’m pretty competitive,” said Mareya. “I’m good with Ollie’s way!”
“How about people who want to compete do that, and people who just want to do it for fun do that?” I suggested.
And that’s exactly what happened.
So, dear Stuck at Home, you asked if I had any ideas to help make this weird time any better, and my answer is yes! Everyone in my family felt way less grumpy after our family meeting, so you might want to start with that. And checking off ideas from The Amazingly Awesome Stuck-at-Home Survival Guide is definitely helping my friends and me feel a million times better. You could see if any of our ideas sound fun, or you could call your friends and make a guide of your own!
Ciao for now,
Art by Amanda Morley