Life Abroad

When Reality Hits the Road and The Road Ends at my Door: Ramblings of a Middle Aged Aunt

I am an early riser. Yes. Blame my deceased mother who for years made sure that I woke up at the crack of dawn to meditate and to do household chores before the day began. I must say that that training has served me well, although my sleep pattern is often an annoyance to those who sleep-in late as a routine. I do not walk timidly in those early hours. I am not good at tip toeing around the house until twelve noon. I typically find ways to occupy myself. I know some of those things are not entirely quiet things. Sorry! To those who wonder why I prefer the local hotel to being their house guest when I’m in their town, I now confess publicly that I am an energized early bird. I jump out of bed in the morning and this is not a quiet act!

Now that I am not enrolled in school, do not have any children to care for, or aged parents to attend to and have flexible work hours, some tell me that I should try to sleep late. No Dice! I am so well trained that I am still up at the crack of dawn, not rolling around in bed, but up doing things I consider worth doing. On a good day, I might even go grocery shopping or do some left over laundry in the quiet hours. Ironing clothes is the only task that I will not attempt at this time. I DO NOT enjoy ironing clothes at any time.My life is still evolving. I am absolutely not bored. I have come to fully accept the early quiet hours as MY TIME of day. This is MY TIME for reflection, contemplation and major problem solving. Today it is my time for thinking about my own child, my nieces, nephews and other younger relatives I have acquired by blood ties or through friendship. I wonder what the future holds for them. I wonder…

Somehow it seemed easier when these children were younger. I was just as busy as many of their parents. I was essentially peripherally involved in the lives of these children except for my own birth child. Engagement was little more than phone calls, presents sent and received, and an occasional holiday here and there. Time spent together on the phone or in person was so short and so precious and hence so sweet. There was just too little time to spend on any other thing but the positives. Time as it always will, has brought change with it. The children are older and so am I.I now have more time to spend with these presently mostly under age 30 adults. I have more time to observe them and to see them as independent decision making people. They are now no longer on the phone because a parent is making them call their aunt. They call or do not call me of their own choosing. They now show up or do not show up at my house because they choose to. I am delighted at their independence, intrigued by their reasoning and amazed at some of the areas in which some of them are yet to mature. They are coming into their own and are making decisions that will, in some instances, define who they are or what they become in the world.

The world has become even more complex; more easily navigated and explored. Our children live at a time when technology and all its advancements make it possible to communicate with people across the world much faster and much easier. Everyone and everything is more visible in a world without walls. Technology helps one see things in other countries in ways that we could only have imagined forty years ago —Emailing, blogging, video conferencing, instant messaging with images etc. One can sit in one’s home and visually travel the world. One can purchase just about any item without ever leaving home. Technology being the two edged sword that it is, also serves the pedophiles, serial killers, opportunists and other evil minded people who lurk out there in cyberspace ready to lure the innocent, the careless and the greedy into their lair.

There are no truly safe places; no safe havens. Safety resides within each individual. Churches, mosques and other religious houses traditionally thought to be safe havens have too often proved to be otherwise in a world of extremists, pedophiles and murderers disguised as holy men and women some of whom lull their following into unconscionable acts. The Aids virus and other mystifying deadly diseases threaten our health and well-being. This is the world that our children are growing up and in which they will make their mark or fade away like falling snow. Our children have much to gain from the advancements that characterize their time if we train them well and they choose to use the innovations of their time appropriately and wisely. If our children would simply understand that they are the ultimate custodians of their own safety through caution and commitment to solid values the battle would be mostly won.

Some things have not changed. Good food has not lost its flavor nor has good drink become less pleasant. Neither sex nor marriage has lost its appeal. Babies are still being born; perhaps not always under the best circumstances, but we can safely say that the earth is still being populated. Most parents still love their children and want the best for them; even if many more parents are misguided children worshippers than ever before. Neither life nor children come with operating manuals; even if they did they would be misquoted and mistranslated. Parents write their own manual daily with each act of parenting. Parents should not abdicate their duty of parenting their children to the rest of the world. Rearing a child is much more than a steady supply of food, clothing, tuition and spending money. Letting our children know when they are wrong does not mean we love them any less. For what it’s worth, parents remain a child’s first teacher. Good values and good character taught and modeled early in life build a firm foundation upon which a child can continue to build. A parent’s word of caution, even in this complex world, may serve as a beacon to guide an errand child back on track when they get lost out at sea. Good parents and good parenting are still invaluable.

“Agba ko kin wa ni oja ki ori omo tun tun wo.” — Yoruba saying

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