A typical scene from the past at our home:
Enter three-year old Otis, wide eyed and in a hurry. Loud crying in the background: “If something happened to Sam I wasn’t there and it was an accident so I didn’t do it.”

The aforementioned culprit and his twin brother were and continue to be fast friends. They and their other siblings often come from Canada with their families to visit when the weather is awful, which is most of the time. We had and soon will have the immense pleasure of hosting some of the families this winter.

When it comes to entertainment, it goes without saying that much has changed since our children were young. One thing that hasn’t changed, and will hopefully never change, is the draw that nature has upon youth. Our son and daughter in law did not bring any online games, headphones or other gear that require batteries (and the know-how to operate them that escapes gran and gramps). They wisely just came with some blow up pool toys, a shovel and pail. This we could deal with.

Our grand daughters spent almost every waking hour outside, lathered with sunscreen, either in the pool, the sea or in grand old climbing trees nearby. Children have a delight radar. It took less than a day before they discovered kids their age at our complex, and just another day to declare they were best friends. They couldn’t wait to get outside and find out where their buddies were – hiding in the old tree? Swimming in the pool?

This gives one pause to consider – whatever happened to our childish delight in others? When did others become an exclusive and fearful idea? Who is our enemy?

Almost 5 billion videos are watched on You Tube every day. Some of them are delightful, others not so. But for those that frighten and warn us, I wonder if some of the causes of increasing societal nervousness come from those negative stratosphere connections constantly uploaded online. Are we scaring ourselves?

Sensational news sells. Someone gets stabbed on London Bridge at 2 pm and we hear about it fifteen minutes later. Ah, there’s another bad guy who doesn’t belong here like all the other strangers who don’t belong here. We hear about this new enemy so often it seems like strangers everywhere are out there, ready to hurt us.

Our grandchildren and their new best friends came from different parts of the globe. They had no idea where each was from, only that finding someone to share their days together was just the best thing ever.

Kind people are everywhere and they certainly outnumber the bad guys. There is a difference between being aware and being worried. One involves fear, one doesn’t.

Like the old woman in the shoe, I had so many children that I didn’t know what to do, so I mostly gave them freedom just to be themselves. And when one of them clobbered the other and declared it was an accident, there were consequences. But that’s another story.

May you find friends in unexpected places this year, and may your heart use it’s own delight radar to discover the enjoyment opening to others might bring.

published in Camana Bay Times

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