• Allan Shedlin

Annie's Poem: A Child Copes With Pandemic Anxiety

By Allan Shedlin

Founder, DADvocacy Consulting Group


Annie wrote the following poem during the pandemic. Annie is nine years old. She and her parents have given their permission to share it here in the knowledge that all feelings are okay and naming them is an important first step to coping with them:


I am a boat leaking with worry water

     I am the sea that carries it far beyond the sunset

           I am the fish that feasts on the worry water

               I am the eagle that feasts on the worry fish


I am the girl who reads this poem

     I am her mind that breathes in the worry

         I am the body that meditates the worry boat

            To worry island. 

Although Annie’s ability to express herself with these words may be exceptional, the worries she expresses are all too common. Ever since COVID-19 hit, the world has become a scarier and more uncertain place. As a matter of fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association – which collectively represent more than 77,000 physicians and more than 200 children’s hospitals – have labeled the children’s mental health crisis a “national emergency.” When difficult personal issues present simultaneously, they may precipitate and amplify whatever worry we might be feeling.

When Annie shared her poem with me, I asked her for permission to share it with some friends and colleagues who I knew would appreciate it. She enthusiastically agreed to sha