Can you get through Ocsober? We humans are strange creatures of habit. Not only do we form habitual ways over time, we also become so reliant on these habits, they become part of our very psyche. Sometimes, we even begin to bow down to them like prehistoric man and his blaze of fire, like the Incas before the God Viracocha – kneeling at the altar of habitual worship.
We all have our habitual Gods. Some of us rely on the slip of a credit card through the till. Some of us sugar-coat our tongues. Some of us like to close the cupboard doors before we can sleep at night. These demi-gods are sometimes the smallest things, and sometimes they’re huge.
So what is my God? Chardy. Yes, that glass of chilled white as the sun dips into the Western Hemisphere and we soar, my sympathetic fellow parents, headlong into Cactus Hour.
My Cactus Hour Chardy (truth be told, it’s not always Chardy – this term has become a collective noun for anything that will take the edge off a mind-bending day) usually begins at dinner time when I’m scrabbling to slap up something that’s both nutritious and delicious. The sipping will continue through dinner where upon the glass is freshly topped up at the dinner table with said gourmet slap-up meal.
Post-meal, dependent on how easily the children succumb to bedtime, that glass may or may not be topped up again, meaning this average sized, everyday mother is probably receiving more than her recommended daily intake of nerve numbing substances. Consciously, this mother doesn’t believe she’s stretching the boundaries of alcohol consumption, but deep down, under the heavy blanket of her subconscious mind, she probably understands this Cactus Hour ritual is not really good for her.
But moreover – it’s not good for her children.
Yes, I’ve been know to avert my eyes when that television ad comes on about parental alcohol consumption. The one where the father is guzzling beers and the young son stands whimsically in the background watching his every move, lapping it up, absorbing it faster than the bucket of alcohol entering Dad’s bloodstream. I’ve slowly slid my hand around my dew-kissed Chardy glass and pushed it out of sight, taken a furtive sip when little backs are turned, taken care not to clink the bottle on the lip of the glass least little ears prick up.
Yes, I’m aware of a nuance of shame during my nightly Sip Fest. After all, what message is my ritualistic Chardy habit really sending my kids?
The fabulous people at Life Education Australia know. This wonderful organisation was founded almost 30 years ago by the Reverend Ted Noffs, who was desperate to help educate young people about the effects of drug use. Since then, this registered charity has expanded exponentially to create a series of programmes that empower children and young people to make the right choices for a safe, healthy and happy life, free from the terrible effects of drugs and alcohol.
Life Education not only covers drugs and alcohol – its regular topics for education also include bullying, medication safety, smoking, peer pressure and healthy food choices. And for the month of October, the charity is inviting regular Australians and Cactus Hour devotees to jump on their mobile bandwagon – or probably more accurately, the plain old Wagon – and go alcohol free for the entire month of October.
Can you do it? Yes, you can. Well, I’m going to, anyway, and I encourage you, my Cactus Hour friends, to join me in supporting Ocsober – either by participating or sponsoring my efforts or the efforts of those you know. All money raised will go straight to Life Education in support of their continuing and vitally important programmes. If you participate in some way, you will be helping Life Education to equip more young people with the knowledge and the skills to live a safer life.
As Dr Fiona Wood, Director of Royal Perth Hospital Burns Unit and 2005 Australian of the Year, says – “My kids have all had the benefit of Life Education, learning about looking after their bodies, and making wise choices… it’s an opportunity every Australian child deserves.”
If there is a greater reason to ride the Ocsober wagon for October, then I don’t know it. Put down that corkscrew and join me.
You can sign up or learn more about Ocsober at http://www.ocsober.com.au/.
If you would like to sponsor Tania McCartney for Ocsober visit http://www.everydayhero.com.au/tania_mccartney