Personal Journeys with Gramma

Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.

Excuses for Being Crabby

One rule of good parenting (or teaching) is don’t be impossible to please. Take each lesson separately and be openly pleased with progress. For example, your preteen can be messy. You say, “It’s time to clean your room!” Your preteen reluctantly does the deed and brings you in to show you. You say, “Okay. That’s fine. Next time don’t make me tell you.” Then you add, “But did you finish your homework?” Your preteen hurried through homework to do the cleaning, so you add, “Go over your work for errors. You made a bunch last time. And the garbage. Did you take out the garbage—all the garbage, not just the waste bin in your room?” In your mind, you’re checking off the chores you’ve assigned, and you’re not done yet.  However, like the ancient offenders who were crushed under stones in punishment, the preteen can see no mercy. Mysteriously, the preteen eventually stops obeying. Why bother? Doing what you’re told only leads to more work and criticism. The parent can look forward to rebellion and resentment that seem to emerge from nowhere. We feed on optimism. What happens when the horizon looks hopelessly bleak, and how can we adapt?

This past week, we had no sky where we live. No clouds. No sun. No stars. Only a gray blanket of smoke—a curse preferable to facing devastating wildfires, but still not desirable. Those of us who are sensitive to smoke were miserable. Air purifiers became essential equipment. Respiratory diseases worsened. Everyone felt irritated. For those of us who live in the west, episodic smoke blown in from wildfires has become common, but losing the entire sky isn’t normal even for us. The smoke suffocated land already raw from excessive summer heat. We all know road rage and domestic violence increase with high temperatures. When the weather is too darned hot, tempers flare.

Okay, so now we have smoke and heat (some had floods and landslides instead of heat) piled like stones on top of death threats. We were sent into solitary confinement by a pandemic unlike any we’ve been forced to endure…since polio? Research shows not everyone can tolerate confinement without emotional damage. Some were locked up with bored, lonely, crabby children…worse again. To be released from quarantine, we were directed (you can’t tell me what to do!) to be double vaccinated, wear masks, and maintain social distance. Relief was brief. We must continue to limit our exposure to mask-less closed spaces because we have a new variant to battle, and even vaccinated people can feel sick while the vulnerable—unvaccinated young and old—frequently die for their skepticism. (The virus will mutate as long as it can find unprotected hosts.) Businesses we had depended on to feed, clothe, and cheer us disappear, leaving many to seek profitable work. Add fear and resentment to the pile. No return to normalcy in sight yet.

Piling our burdens yet heavier, certain “information” outlets and opinion leaders disseminate fantastic misinformation accusing medical authorities of ulterior motives and experienced leaders of being wolves in sheep’s clothing. Some people feel there is no one to trust but the sources that describe crude violence as typical tourist behavior and insist we need to usurp the government, although a successful coup will not stop change but hasten it. Bizarre, convoluted explanations are presented as being plausible. Some redefine American democracy to mean crooked autocrats pounding their chests like entertainment wrestlers. The population divides, pulling so-called great-again thinkers apart from so-called intellectuals who keep talking about proof.

The final stone has been climate change. We’re told the earth needs us to behave differently or we’ll all suffer horrible consequences. We witness terrible effects around us, but WE HATE BEING FORCED TO CHANGE. And we wonder why we feel angry, depressed, and a little hopeless? In other words, we have good reason to be defensive, impatient, and unreasonable, but what does anyone gain by our going there? We need to focus on what we can do.

Happily, the masks we’re wearing are also good for filtering smoke! And the terrible air pollution, fires, and floods are reminders that changes in the earth are not happening gradually but can be impacted by humans. We’re also learning that we need one another. Like the American men who fumbled passing the baton in their Olympic relay, we must put egos aside to work as a team…or fail. For example, statistics prove vaccines prevent deaths. Humans have survived as a species not because we’re the best equipped but because we’ve been adaptable. It’s time to be adaptable again. Pat yourself on the back for making it this far. You’ve been astoundingly resilient!  And watch where you’re going so you like where you end up.

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