Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lessons Learned . . . Elsewhere

Mark, right and Erik, with Grampa Tolley in the background

To complete his master's degree, my husband had moved our (then) little family to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Also know as Winter-peg or Windy-peg.
Either one is apt.
And I found myself, for the first time, living in a large city.
There was the usual adjustment period.
Okay, I'm lying, there was no adjustment period.
I never did adjust.
For eight months, my (then) two sons and I hardly left the apartment, unless accompanied by my husband.
Funny how grocery shopping can start looking like a 'date'.
I was homesick for my prairies and open spaces.
I did get a lot of reading and sewing and cleaning done.
And my boys discovered the wonder of 'cable TV'.
I soon learned just how much they watched.
Grant had taken us for a drive. He had an errand to run and his family was suffering from 'cabin-fever'.
A common enough ailment in Canada in the winter.
You can look it up . . .
He was making a quick dash into the mall.
Now those of you who know my husband know that a quick dash anywhere . . . isn't.
Quick, I mean.
The boys and I were sitting in the fire lane in front of the Zellers store long enough to celebrate birthdays.
Okay, I'm exaggerating, but you get the picture.
It was quite a while.
Erik was buckled into his car seat directly behind me, happily blowing bubbles and Mark, his older brother by eighteen months was opposite him, with the clearest view of the storefront.
I was reading.
Mark was chanting something, just loud enough to be heard.
It took a couple of repetitions before I noticed.
I put down my book.
"Mark, what are you saying?"
He repeated it.
"What?" Sometimes, deciphering almost-three-year-old speech takes a Master's degree.
And where was the one person in our family with such a degree???!
"Say it once more."
"Zed. E. Eleven. E. R. S."
What on earth was he talking about?
I looked where he was looking.
The front of the Zellers store.
Suddenly, it hit me.
He was reading the letters over the front doors.
Zed. E. Eleven. E. R. S.
Well, almost.
It made perfect sense!
If you were two.
What a clever boy!
And I had raised him.
Okay, for a very few seconds, I did a bit of back patting.
Very few.
Then reality set in.
The only reason he knew all of those letters was because of his copious amounts of time spent watching Sesame Street.
On a good day, he could catch the program twice!
Funny that my son's showing me how advanced he was, showed me, at the same time, what a neglectful parent I had been.
I'd like to say that things changed.
And they did.
Afterwards, when Sesame Street came on, I was watching with him.
Before long, we were nearly on the same reading level.
A few more months in Winnipeg and I might have caught up to him!


  1. They can be chillingly intelligent can't they?

  2. Good ole' Sesame Street! ha ha... what would we do without it? My kids would watch it, but they like Barney more. I don't think they got as good of an education as your boys. :) But we could sing lots of songs!

    I lived in the "city" (Mesa, AZ) for 5 months and I never got used to it either. I hated every second of it!

    I love this story... it is so cute and it feels like a snippet out of my own life story. :)

  3. mybabyjohn/Delores: Too true! I love the word 'chillingly'. It gives me . . . chills!
    Ginger: I can always count on you to feel my pain!
    Debra Ann Elliott: Thanks for joining us! And for enjoying!

  4. Similar experience with Jason when he was two - stuck in traffic, I realized he was reading DQ over and over again, from the restaurant across the street. I don't know whether he knew the letters from Sesame Street, or the logo from commercials! My mother was with me and she thought he was a genius. I did not enlighten her....

  5. I think we all have stories like this to remind us to pay attention to our kids:) I am sure they grew up just fine and don't even remember watching Sesame street:) Mine watched Barney...Shiver:)


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