Sunday 27 January 2008

It Could be Worse

I have not been languishing on the couch for two weeks. Shortly after recovering, Safiya and I went out of town to hang out with Nana, who is Mr. S.'s grandmother, and who lives with my Father-in-law usually, but he went on a well-deserved vacation. So we Nana-sat for a week-and-a-half. Nana can take care of herself, but she's at that stage in her life where if she falls, there needs to be someone there to help her right away - someone to check in on her every day at least.

One of Mr. S.'s favourite utterances is "it could be worse!" Hence the book above, which is a charming re-telling of the folk tale where a small house is crowded with too many people getting on eachother's nerves and then the wise one in the village advises them to bring in all their farm animals and then eventually tells them to remove all the animals and hey presto! the house isn't quite as crowded as it was before and everyone is happy.

With the house closing in on me in the middle of January, fighting sickness, and tired, as I told a friend, of the perpetual twilight of the city, I was craving darkness and quiet and room to breathe. Nana-sitting? Perfect. They live on the outskirts of a major town, in a quiet condo/townhouse/subdivision arrangement, but close enough to the countryside.

Ahhhhhh, how useful a change of scenery can be. For realising how good you have it, that is. I forgot about the driving. There is no public transit where Nana lives, so the car it is - for everything. Not even a corner store. And everyone drives, so there's noone outside to acknowledge even if you did go for a walk to....nowhere. And the sameness of said subdivision could make you cry - the unmoving facades of identical houses staring back, unblinking, when you hopefully look out the window in search of scenery. The isolation is oppressive.

We did enjoy visiting, sharing everyday rhythms with Nana, watching game shows, watching her thoroughly enjoy harassing me about what are you going to eat? (she wouldn't touch anything I made - claimed that the only thing I eat is seeds :-) and listening to her mutter about how I don't understand any of her language (enough to understand the swearing, Nana! :-) I brought the dictionaries to translate, we even managed a shopping list together, and we laughed at my ineptness.

But I'm glad to be home. Home where a quick errand outdoors gives me the opportunity to chat for 5 minutes with my neighbour and say hi to another. Home where the kids walk to school, gaggles of them laughing and their parents haranguing them up the sidewalk. Home where I can use my legs to get around, for which I am rewarded a healthy glow instead of a car-induced headache.

Thank goodness for a little perspective. It could be worse!


Anonymous said...

Have I told you about make it worse then bring it back?

Peter and I have been using this technique with the kids for years. Really the gist if it is "If you think it's crap now...let's just see how bad it could be".

Bored in the car? You could be bored and listening to this cool polka station we found on the radio.

Don't want to share the puzzle with your sister? Maybe we'll give her every other piece then you go ahead and try it.

Really it sounds a little mean but we've never tried it without the kids roaring with laughter at our suggestions then accepting the original situation.

Heather said...

I love this post and Katharine's comment. Very funny. Will try Katharine's method if I ever have kids!

Unknown said...

I've written Katharine back, but I just have to give her credit in public for being brilliant! Ha! I can't believe we've never tried this with Safiya before.....this will be so much fun :-) Thanks Katharine!