My sister said: “You tun drunkard!” Which is Jamaican for: “You’ve turned into a drunkard”.
All because, over the first four weeks of Russia’s war on Ukraine, I drank a total of 9 bottles of beer. Doesn’t sound like much, I know, but for me, it’s a lot – and my sister knows it.
Which is why, despite what’s happening in the world, I am trying to keep my gaze downward these days. At the small green shoots that will become blooming tulips, daffodils and crocuses later this month.
At the trout in the stream, preparing to spawn.
At my sweet grandtoddler, who is a daily marvel.
It’s been so long since my daughters were toddlers that I’d forgotten the many daily developments of two year-olds: the language and math skills that expand day to day; the flashes of humour and mischief; the endless fascination with hide-and-seek.
She used to hide while we, pretending to not know where she was, would call out all the many places we were searching for her.
“She’s not behind the door!”
“She’s not under the chair!”
“I wonder where she could be?”
And she, unable to stop herself, would giggle and call back, loudly: “No!”
Recently, the pattern changed. She loves hiding under the large dining tables at her home and ours; sooner or later, parents and grandparents are invited to hide with her there.
It led us to ask her: “But if we’re all hiding here, who’s going to find us?”
“Hmmm…” she replied, considering the problem.
She crept from under the table – to pretend to look for us, we thought. But no. Instead, she ran through the house, giggling, pausing in the dining room each time only to make sure we were still there, crouched under the table.
GrandToddler loves to run and dance, especially to Bob Marley music, (though now she has added Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” to her preferred playlist). She calls our names one by one, commands us: “Come!” We all have to dance and run behind her. Her parents are new homeowners and there’s no furniture in the living room, which makes it an ideal spot for dancing and running.
These are moments of pure joy – moments in which, like her, we live in the absolute present.
The thing with having children or grandchildren, of course, is that one minute you’re feeling pure delight at what they do, and the next you find yourself worrying about things you can’t control. You want them to never be in the danger. You want the world they inherit to be a good place. You find yourself praying more than usual.
Someone once defined the difference between liberals and conservatives this way: Liberals want to make the world a better place for both our loved ones and others; they want to fix what’s wrong with the world. Conservatives accept the world as it is and try to make the best lives for themselves and the people who matter to them within it.
I can’t help but think of all the conservatives and liberals I know who put their families first, but simply cannot accept the world as it is today.
Why is one country allowed to hold the world hostage? Why are the oligarchs of the world (not only Russian ones) allowed to have seemingly unchecked power? Why do some western societies still have monarchs? Why on earth did it take so long to get an African-American woman on the supreme court? And when do we start taking overdue action to stop the damage to the world’s environment and climate?
Luckily, I don’t stress about all these things at once – it would be too much, and all the beer in the world wouldn’t help. Plus, I need to pay attention to a fast-moving two year-old.
So I take care of my family and do what I can to contribute to the causes I support. And I think about the good in the world – especially in my small world of friends, faith community, and family. Like the giggle of a two year-old dancing and running with her family, it helps to calms an anxious mind.