He cast a shy sideways glance at the elderly man riding in the scooter.
He looks ahead to where his Nan is walking and talking to the smiling lady. His little legs pick up steam and he catches them. The lady pushes up his sunglasses and calls him by name. His usual chatter has abandoned him in this new environment. The stryder bike is comfy though and he rides along the path, glancing ahead at sister so far ahead on her big bike, Momma at her side. This path and park don’t look familiar and he stops many times to glance around.
He spies the structure up ahead and utters his first word “playground”. He pulls in and parks his bike in the rack like it’s second nature despite having never seen one before.
Instantly aware, from his winter time trips to the zoo and playground with his Nan, that there are things to climb. Happy to run, play, climb, swing and slide. His pure delight is translated into giggles, smiles and hugs as he gets caught at the end of the slide. His excitement is contagious and the older couple radiate joy from watching him.
Playground exploration is followed by a picnic lunch. Once again with close proximity his shyness overtakes him and instead of being the endless chatterbox that is usually evidence at mealtime he becomes this shy little munch. He squiggles and wiggles while he is eating and as his shoes are off he comes close enough the great auntie tickles his toes. His squeal of delight is quite delicious along with the sly little smile from under the fringe of hair.
Playground time over and on the long walk/bike back to the vehicle he is again quite silent. Safely tucked into his car seat in Nan’s vehicle they say bye bye to Momma with hugs and kisses. Momma asks them both to say good bye and this sweet little voice rings out “bye Auntie Helen”.
The wee lad (as I like to refer to him here) is now 26 months old. Over half his life time has been lived during a pandemic. Children are much adaptable than adults, a scientifically proven fact, and he will likely have no “deficits” from this time. He will learn to play with other children at some point and his sister will cease to be his whole measuring yard. He will go to the library, pool, rink, store, school and park someday without it seeming alien. For now he is safe with his small family and enjoying time in the bubble with Nan and Grampa (although I feel like bubbles will be ending soon).
Half a life time ago I was a young working mother, struggling to balance all the balls in the air. The days were so long but the years truly flew by. Little details and decisions long forgotten but all had an impact as I moved forward to where I am now. I feel like it’s so much easier to be a grandparent without weight of those daily decisions and it is pure joy. Oh they have rules here but I am able to relax about things that as a parent I would have stressed about. I am so glad I can be a safe haven for them during this time. But I feel like this time is threatened again as the variant ramps up here in Saskatchewan.
More than a lifetime ago the 1918 Spanish flu and the First World War were taking their toll. Today marks the anniversary of Canadians giving their all at Vimy Ridge. Yet war rages on in many locations world wide; most notably at this moment new conflict in Northern Ireland. It seems man kind is doomed to repeat mistakes over and over again.
A year ago (which seems like more than a year) I wrote Not at Peace and I had hope that people and politicians could and would make all the right decisions in regards to Covid19. A year later I am quite disillusioned. It seems that the collective good has been forgotten over individual rights and the all mighty economy. It seems that many are too selfish to take time out from travel and shopping to settle in at home. I just read of a restaurant in Nelson, B.C. that chose to close it’s doors over how tourists were acting. The owner chose safety for his staff and family and kudos to him. Sadly it won’t stop those who are hell bent on ignoring the biggest health threat we have ever faced in our life.
Half a lifetime of missed family times and normal childhood activities. Hard choices we all have to make to stay safe whether it be toddlers, seniors with dementia, cancer patients, front line store workers or stay at home moms. Or friends who chose not to attend a funeral because of the risk.
I’ve been working on this post for a few days; the words flit and fling and flounder. The cohesive thread to tie it all together seems to have evaded capture as I scramble to be coherent about life during this “extraordinary” time. Sometimes I look for the perfect words and some one else has written them already. Perhaps these are the words, written by the Hunter Brothers, I need to channel
I grow better in hard dirt I dig deeper when the river runs dry Struggle makes me stronger Keeps me reaching for the sky You don't know what the rain's worth Til it finds you out in the desert Learnin' how my heart works I grow better in hard dirt I grow better in hard hard dirt Dreams keep me alive Even when I'm weak and even when I'm barely getting by Blood, sweat and tears put the fruit on the vine Someday I'm gonna rise, someday I'm gonna shine I grow better…
So, on the anniversary of Vimy Ridge let’s all dream about better times….and hope that mankind can learn…