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October 22, 2020

Sharon Randall: Don’t worry, be happy

By Sharon Randall

There’s a lot going on these days. A worldwide pandemic. People out of work, fearing eviction. Hurricanes. Wildfires. Protests. Riots. And a looming election that might be one of the most important in our history.

It’s enough to make you want to put on a flea collar and hide under the porch with the dogs.

But some of us seem to worry about it a lot less than others.

My husband and I share eight grandchildren. Jonah is the youngest. I’ve been watching him closely since the day he was born, 18 months ago. It’s one of my favorite things to do.

We live 382 miles apart, Jonah and I, so I mostly watch him in videos that his mama and daddy send me. Almost daily. Several times a day, if I’m lucky. And we FaceTime fairly often.
Jonah in video is not as much fun as Jonah in the flesh, but it’s a lot better than no Jonah at all.

I wish I could’ve sent my mother daily videos of her grandkids. Maybe she’d have worried less and lived longer.

Watching Jonah has taught me a lot about how to avoid the ill effects of worry and stress. Here are some of the things that seem to work well for him:

• First, he doesn’t watch TV. Except an occasional episode of “Peppa Pig.” And he doesn’t own a cell phone. He loves to grab his mom and dad’s phones, but they try to keep them out of his reach. So, unlike some of us, he isn’t glued to an electronic device. He’s far more in touch with the real world. The birds outside his window. The tickle of his dad’s beard. The smell of his mom’s hair. The temptation to try the big slide at the park or the joy of mastering a new word. (His latest favorite is “no.”)

• He gets more exercise than a team of sled dogs. Runs more than he walks. Dances on tables. Splashes in a puddle or a bath or a lake. Keeps his mom and dad laughing and on their toes.

• He sleeps like a baby. Limp as an over-cooked noodle. Naps if he feels like it. But sometimes he will wake in the night and try to rouse his dad to play.

• He eats a healthy diet. Lots of veggies. No sugar. Only stuff that’s good for him. His parents make sure of it. He likes most everything they offer him. If he doesn’t like it, he spits it out.

• He spends a lot of time outdoors, playing in the yard, going to the park with his mom or taking walks with his dad. He stays engaged with people who make him happy, not sad, and with things that are beautiful, not ugly. He cuddles with his mom. Reads with his dad. Plays with his cousins. FaceTimes with his nana. And loves to help. You should see him vacuum.

• He never hides his emotions. He yells if his mom leaves the room. Gets mad if his dad won’t let him put the iPad in the fireplace. And if he falls down the stairs and bumps his head, he screams bloody murder. But when he stops hurting, he quits screaming and climbs back on the stairs. He cries when he feels like crying. And he laughs so much more than he cries.

• Finally, Jonah knows that he is loved. He has learned that the world isn’t perfect. It can be a painful and frustrating place. There are bees in the grass that can sting his feet. Stairs he can fall down. Cell phones and iPads and other expensive things his parents won’t let him break. But mostly he sees the world as a good place—a place not for worrying, but for learning and exploring and being happy.

Jonah doesn’t have time to worry. He’s too busy living his one, sweet, beautiful life.

As adults, we seldom get to enjoy the kind of freedom we knew as children. We have jobs and responsibilities. Families to care for. Bills to pay. Decisions to weigh. We need to be vigilant and informed and involved.

But worry gains us nothing and robs us of life. We can learn a lot from watching a toddler.

When I grow up, I want to be just like Jonah.

Sharon Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924 or on her website: www.sharonrandall.com.

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