Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

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

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Uh-Oh! Mom! I'm Car . . .!

Ready for town . . .
We lived 70 miles from the nearest city. Thus, a 'trip to town' was more of an event.
Inevitably, I got car sick. Not a pleasant thing for anyone stuck in the vehicle with me.
And, being four, I sometimes confused being excited with being sick.
Let me explain . . .
On the ranch, the most exciting thing our Dad could say was, “Everyone get in the car, we've got to go to the town!”
It was equivalent to being told we were going to Disneyland.
All right, I admit it, sophisticated world travellers, we weren't.
We would then pile into the car (and I do mean 'pile', seatbelts hadn't been invented yet) and head up the gravel road towards the great white lights of Lethbridge. The trip took an hour and a half. Usually more, when Diane was one of the passengers.
Invariably, at some point between the ranch and the first town, Milk River, a small voice would pipe up from the back seat, “I'm sick!”
The car would slide quickly to the side of the road. Mom's door would fly open. Diane would pop magically to the top of the heap of humanity in the back seat and . . .
I'll leave the rest to your imagination.
Every trip.
Every time.
But then . . . something changed.
The little voice would speak up sooner.
And sooner.
Until the car wouldn't even have made it out of the driveway before the fateful words were heard.
Mom and Dad tried to puzzle it out. Why was Diane getting sick so quickly after getting into the car?
They must have figured something because they certainly came up with an effective solution.
On that fateful day, Dad announced that he had to make a trip into town.
Just before he was trampled by his entire enthusiastic family.
With much talk and laughter, we kids piled (that word again) into the car.
Dad got in. His door closed.
A pause while he found the key and jammed it into the starter.
He turned the key.
The motor roared to life.
He reached for the gear shift.
“I'm sick!”
His hand hovered there for a split second. Then dropped down and shut off the key.
“Then, you'd better stay at home with your Mom.”
What?! No! I stared at him, horrified.
“Go on. Get out.”
The tears started.
I should mention here that my Dad is a real push-over for tears.
Any tears.
Except, obviously when his small daughter needs to be taught a lesson.
“Diane. Get out.”
Suddenly, Mom was there, opening the car door.
She carried me, by now crying bitterly into the house and set me down on a kitchen chair.
Over my sobs, I heard the car start up and pull out of the driveway.
They were really going to leave me! It was more than my little four-year-old heart could handle.
I lept off the chair, ran to my parent's room and crawled under the bed.
Now, I should point out here that, never before or since have I crawled under my parent's bed. Maybe because, never before or since has anything been that traumatic. But I digress . . .
I lay under there, sobbing for hours. (Or more probably five minutes – it's all the same when you're four.)
Suddenly, a banana appeared at the side of the bed. A fresh banana, with the peel still on, but just slightly opened to reveal the yumminess underneath.
It stayed there, just temptingly out of reach.
I looked at it.
I love bananas.
And it really looked good.
I slid towards it. Just a little.
It stayed there.
A little more.
I could almost reach it.
There! I could touch it.
And I was out from under the bed.
“Are you feeling better?”
I looked up. Mom was sitting there on the floor, holding the banana.
I nodded and crawled into her lap. She held the banana for me to take a bite, then handed the rest to me and snuggled me tightly.
I munched my way through the treat, still sniffing occassionally.
Mom waited until I was done.
“Was it good?”
Nod. Sniff.
“Would you like something else?”
She stood up, taking me with her and carried me into the kitchen.
Where she fed me a cookie.
Then another.
Why does everything look better on a full tummy?
Then she sat down. “Diane, in the car, were you really sick?”
I stopped chewing and looked at my cookie. Then I stared at her, wide-eyed.
“I don't think you were, were you?”
Slowly, I shook my head.
“So why did you say you were?”
I looked at the cookie again, my mind working frantically.
“Were you excited about going to town?”
I nodded.
“Okay, I want you to think about this . . .”
Great. Thinking. The one thing I was good at. Not
“When we go in the car, I don't want you to say that you're sick. Unless you really are sick.”
I turned that over in my mind. I nodded.
“Can you remember that?”
Another nod. I started chewing again.
Mom smiled and stood up. “Good.”
And, oddly enough, that was all it took.
Never again did I pipe up from the back seat for anything less than genuine illness.
Or the potty, which Mom kept under her car seat.
But that is a whole other story.


  1. How do you tell the difference between being over excited and sick? They sort of feel the same some times (most times).

    1. Right! Now could you please explain that to my parents?!

  2. Your mom sounds like such a wonderful mother - a born-to-mother mother ... it tears me up inside to hear a mom at the mall or grocery store railing on their kids for nothing more than being a kid ... I always want to ask if they don't remember being little ... It makes me happy to hear about good moms!

    1. She was SO good! My greatest goal is to be like her . . .

  3. Oh, Diane...that was awesome. Although we lived only 20 miles from "the big town", my father drove slowly so he could look at the cornfields. It usually took 45 minutes.

    Your folks were very clever.

    1. Your Dad was very clever! Maybe going slower would have saved me!

  4. I could never be in a car longer than 10 minutes before I "got that feeling." My mother figured out that if I sung, it would keep my mind off feeling sick. I still remember my mother yelling from the font seat "Sing, Arleen, sing!" Those 5 hour trips to MA must have felt twice as long.

    I still sing in the car, but only because I love to croon along with the music.

    1. Wonderful!
      I can imagine it now . . . Sing, Diane, Sing!!!

  5. I usually only got carsick after several miles of travel, or if the road had been full of twists and turns, that always does it.
    I would think that at four it is very hard to distinguish between sick and excitement, they both churn the tummy.

    1. Sometime, let me tell you about our trip through Yellowstone Park. Otherwise known as the 'Upchuck Olympics'.


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