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Thursday, 19 November 2009

What's Up, Doc?

By Dani Ferguson of The Musings of a Middle Aged Woman

You know how there are things in everyone’s past that they aren’t particularly proud of or wish to admit. There are those parenting moments for instance when we didn’t necessarily use our best judgment. Well, one of my less than stellar moments as a parent occurred when my girls were four years old.

When my children were young they were not good little travelers like some children who are instantly lulled to sleep by the purring of a car engine. Oh no, my children never slept in the car, not even as babies.

Due to this fact, it goes without saying I wasn’t that thrilled when my husband decided he wanted to take a family trip from Oklahoma to California with our preschool age twin daughters. I began the trip with the greatest intention of remaining optimistic but we had hardly left the driveway when I realized my optimism was in vain.

We had barely reached the end of the block before the fighting began. Twin one snatched something away from twin two and twin two, being unwilling to tolerate such a blatant disrespect of personal space and property, retaliated by biting twin one on the arm like a starving wolf cub. As soon as twin one became of aware of the blood drawn by twin two she began to scream at a decibel rate equivalent to the sound of a jet leaving the tarmac.

At this point, all I could think about was the 1,342.46 miles of road trip ahead. By the time we reached Amarillo, Texas, a mere 286 miles from our house, I had begun the downward descent into a catatonic state. My husband, not wanting to face the prospect of raising two little girls on his own, made an executive decision to abandon the Magic Kingdom in favor of a shorter route to Arlington, Texas and the Six Flags Over Texas theme park.

As he exited Interstate 40 and turned south, I looked at him with more adoration and love than I had shown on our wedding night. Using Pig Latin to communicate we concocted the scheme to pass off Six Flags as Disneyland seeing as how our two passengers couldn’t read anyway.

In defense of our plot I fully intended to tell them the truth when they had children of their own and after they had traveled say 500 miles to visit Grandma at Christmas time.

Later that evening, we arrived in Arlington, a trip that would have taken less than four hours from our home without the detour through Amarillo but hey, that’s water-under-the- bridge. Since the girls didn’t know California from Texas, oak trees from palm trees, the disparagement in travel time didn’t raise any suspicions.

We checked into our motel to get a good night’s sleep before our trip to the “Magic Kingdom” the following day. I hadn’t been asleep three hours when I was startled into consciousness by the sound of gagging from the next bed. I barely opened my eyes before twin one began throwing up all over the bed immediately followed by the convulsive heaving of twin two.

Holding back my own urge to expel the contents of my stomach, I managed to get trashcans for all and cold rags on necks. By now I figured the “Magic Kingdom” wasn’t going to be on our itinerary but I didn’t count on the one-track mind of a four-year-old times two. It was apparent that if we didn’t go we were going to witness a full-blown fit that would make Super Nanny run for the hills.

So, bright and early armed with ice buckets stolen, I mean borrowed, from the motel and wet rags we ventured toward “Mickey’s Magic Kingdom.” Fortunately, the girls didn’t get sick again but we had to battle temperatures I’m sure were not being experienced in Anaheim. Texas in July is about 110 in the shade.

We stood in lines for rides with water misters spraying overhead only to have the water evaporate long before it hit our scorched and searing flesh. The girls kept asking to see Mickey Mouse and Snow White and their father’s creative answer was to tell them Mickey was in jail for DUI (my husband was a police officer) and that Snow White was on an extended vacation in Hawaii.

Fortunately there were a few Looney Tunes characters skulking about so that seemed to satisfy the kids. Nothing amuses a child like a giant rabbit gnawing a carrot yelling, “What’s up, doc?” while being chased by a gun-waving pig.

The girls requested toy swords at the souvenir stand and on our way to the parking lot we had them pose in front of the Six Flags sign. It had a picture of Bugs Bunny waving a sword over his head so we thought it would be cute to get a picture of our own sword-waving children. The shot was snapped and our vacation to the Magic Kingdom came to an end.

Long after the trip was a faint memory and my children had been in school for a couple of years, they happened upon our vacation snapshot of them in front of the “Disneyland” sign. I heard an enormous wail from the other room and was immediately confronted by two enraged second graders.

Who’s idea had it been to teach them to read?

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post



I really enjoyed your story and must say the theme was very familiar. Tell the kids almost anything to avoid a tantrum or scene.

My children began asking me questions at about age 14. Not "Where did I come from?" or "How do you get a baby?" They wanted to know why I told them that Gorton's Cod Fish Cakes were chicken or why I had said that if the Ice Cream Man was ringing his bell it meant he was out of ice cream. And why did I give the biggest prize to the first kid to go home from the birthday party?

For more hints on how to bamboozle kids into anything read my story "Have You Ever Been in Sandusky,Mom?"

Oh Nancy...I wish I had talked to you about 38 years ago!!! I could have used some creative input!

Dani - I can't recall the last time I laughed this hard!

Great story! - Sandy

Great story! It makes me remember my our own trip from Californiato Oklahoma in about 1961. It was mom and three children under ten years. No freeway, just lots of roadside Indian stops....and lots of noise inside the 55'chevy. My mom must have been so ready to reach our destination of Commerce, OK.

I'm sure every parent who took a trip with toddlers through teenagers can identify with your very funny story. Imagine driving from Arizona to Massachusetts with one of each. A trip to be forgotten; if I only knew how. ;)

I'm still laughing and will probably do so for days when I think about it.

Great story and so familiar...

Oh, My, Oh my, what a tale.

A great story so many of us can relate to. Liked the ending.
My friend took his two boys to Disney World from central Ohio. He said the trip home involved fighting and threats all the way. He told the boys if he had to get after them one more time, he was going to pull over and take his belt to them.
He and his wife couldn't take it any longer, so he kept his word. I asked why he was laughing about that. He said, "We were only two blocks from home."
You have inspired me to write about our last vacation to Toronto before the kids began leaving the nest.
Thanks for the memories.

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