I love the Italian title to Mo Willems’s Waiting is not easy! It conveys Gerald’s good-faith effort towards patience in a different key; rather than the declarative “Waiting is not easy!” the Italian puts it in the interrogative (“Quanto manca?” “How much longer?”) and accents it with that quintessentially Italian “Uffa!” I don’t know how to translate “Uffa” - it’s more of an involuntary sound than a word - it is the oral expression of emphatically underlined impatience. In Italian, a double consonant indicates the heavy accent that must be given to the preceding syllable - in “Uffa” you land hard, hard on that F. UFF-aaa.
Yet, the English title is the one that really has the complete grasp of the tone of the story. Uffa is the equivalent of the grumpy cat meme in emotional complexity; it conveys displeasure, in one breath, with pathos and verve (it is very satisfying to say, not unlike - in my opinion - a certain F-word in English). But Gerald’s impatience is generally less performative and more verbalized. He does groan, once or twice, in reaction to the difficulty of waiting. But he genuinely brings a decent amount of intellectual clarity to his situation. Waiting is not easy! He will have to wait for Piggie’s surprise? Can he wait? Will he wait? He is genuinely going to try, and when it gets hard, he is going to make that fact known. “I do not think your surprise is worth all this waiting,” he says at one point. Gerald will sit with his impatience and discomfort and state of general annoyance and break it down piece by piece before he makes it to the end, sees Piggie’s surprise at last, and declares that it is, indeed, worth the wait (“I know,” Piggie says). The moment does not feel contrived or unearned, precisely because Gerald has not been merely UFFa-ing his way through the waiting but rather examining from an emotional viewpoint the various facets of being in a state of waiting. Waiting is not easy, and we do not have to pretend that it is, but we will cope with it better if we can express with specificity and precision what we are experiencing.