Posted by: ritagone | August 4, 2010

The Human Condition

To see the human condition in all the reality of man’s sin nature, just put together for one week in close quarters nine people ranging in age from 67 to 4, and monitor them.  Last week the Warren clan got together in Idaho, at the condo Michael and I own on the beautiful Spokane River, between the city of Spokane, Washington and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  It is a gorgeous spot, very quiet, idyllic, with lots to do and the perfect setting for a family vacation.

It started out quite harmlessly.  Michael and I got there two days before the rest of the family; we drove up so that we would have two cars available, and also because we thought a “roadtrip” would be fun.  Linus and Sharon were at the condo already when we drove up, because the four of us were going to Karli Fairbanks’ wedding on Friday night in Spokane.  So Thursday evening and Friday during the day, we relaxed, we went out on the pontoon boat for a relaxing cruise up the Spokane River, we were adults.  Strangely enough, in all the years we’ve known Linus and Sharon, we have rarely had this kind of alone time with them, and it was a rare treat.  Saturday morning Linus and Sharon departed, to drive to Portland, and Michael and I had a nice, quiet time to ourselves, awaiting the arrival of the family, our son and his four year old daughter Hannah, our daughter and her husband and their three children.  We were excited, we were looking forward to our time together, a family vacation that has become a yearly tradition and that we were truly looking forward to.  But before they all descended on us, I must say it was nice to sit and read and enjoy the stillness, the proverbial calm before the storm.

And then, around 3 p.m. Saturday afternoon, they arrived.

In no time, our quiet world was turned upside down.  That’s okay; it was to be expected.  A 10 year old, an almost 9 year old, a 6 year old, a 4 year old: what do you expect?  That they would sit lined up on the couch with their hands folded and discuss current affairs?

No way.  I’m not stupid.

But what I truly didn’t expect was my reaction to the chaos that ensued.

I soon found myself cringing when the grandchildren handled almost anything in my condo, fearing breakage.  My neat, structured world came apart.  There was chaos, the kind of chaos that children bring into an environment.  Nothing was where it belonged.  Crumbs. Towels.  Wet towels.  Furniture moved around.  The noise level was sometimes painful.  Adult conversation was almost impossible.

The kids displayed their own sin natures.  No amount of tubing on the pontoon boat was satisfying to them.  They always felt cheated.  They never liked what they were being asked to eat.  They continually wanted what the other kid had, no matter what it was.  One child would be sitting in a chair and would get up to retrieve something.  Immediately another child would swoop into that chair, whereupon the returning child would scream in dismay.  Unhappy, unhappy, unhappy.  Whining, whining, whining.  The adults watched the movie “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” one night after the children went to sleep.  It was all we could do to not drag them out of bed and force them to watch the film.  But then again, we felt convicted ourselves, as adults, never mind trying to convict the children of their own sins.

The more adults my age I talk to, the more I have come to understand that the older we get, the more we like our structures, our schedules, our things in the right places, nothing disturbed, nothing disjointed, a place for everything and everything in its place.  And boy, does that sin nature rear its ugly head when that is not the case!!

So it was a good lesson for me to be in the midst of a situation in which nothing was where it belonged, tables got scratched, pillows were stained and disturbed, there was no place to hide, and all was not well.  You know what?  I survived.  My grandchildren had a wonderful time.  My almost nine year old granddaughter knows I still love her and doesn’t even notice that I have a permanent twitch because she has an unconscious habit of mindless whistling that nearly drove me crazy.  (In all fairness to me, I had an uncle who used to mindlessly whistle when I was growing up.  He was a very nasty man, was my Uncle Sam, and Livvy mindlessly whistling brought back deep-seated memories of this man that were not pleasant.  I think I now need therapy.  And still she whistles, even now that we’re home.  She says it’s her “hobby.”  Susy Newman, are you reading this?  I may need to talk to you.)

And still, having watched “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” I realize that having a vacation condo a bit disrupted doesn’t even register on the scale of life’s problems.  Everything indeed is relative…including one’s relatives.

There will not be a Rita’s Ramblings next week, as I’ll be at CA’s CONNECT in Germany.  I’ll report back on August 18.  Until then, don’t let the small things get you down.


Regards, Rita

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