While the events here are true, initials have been changed to represent middle names.
The newspapers I have been saving since January are in Dave’s car, and should arrive around 4 o’clock today. I would have brought them myself yesterday, but there was no room left to pack them in my car, after the groceries, clothes, cooler and 5 passengers were loaded. (Actually, the days are messed up… I arrived several days ago; that’s how it is when you write things days ago, and you have no wifi. Primitive, I know.)
We left around 2 in the afternoon, between meals, and I knew the kids would be hungry about one hour into the trip. After packing all morning, I refused to add cooking to my to-do list, primarily because I just couldn’t add the task of clean up to my already overburdened last-minute overflowing list. Although I can’t bear the aftermaths of fast food (it tends to make my head feel funny, and my stomach mushy), I figured, just this once, we could stop.
Except, that there wasn’t a place to stop. Based on the rural back roads that lead to the lake, I knew there would be no yellow arches, but there would be mom and pop diners, that display their home-made pies slices, on white ceramic plates in a display case up by the counter, where men sit on bar stools and eat their lunches. Stopping there would have added a detour of a couple of miles, and at least an hour of time. Plus, there would be the talk from friendly waitresses who have grandchildren just about the age of my children. Actually, I relish these small-town conversations, picking up on the slow-rhythms that run beneath their day, and watching how their eyes don’t stray from your face when they ask you a question. When I’m with my boys, alone, I like to stay focused on the task at hand; which is heading off fights before they have a chance to escalate. Distractions –mine — can spell disaster.
Then, R felt sick. I looked behind me, and he was green. We were only 45-minutes away from our 3-hour destination. Up the road, about 20 minutes, is the first major interstate, which has no arch, but does have the blue W, a Wal-Mart. (An upside down golden arch? Did you ever realize that?) At this point, we realized how grateful we were that Dave had installed the rear backseat in the wagon of the Volvo. This was our maiden voyage using the seat, which positioned the passengers facing the back; just like old-fashioned station wagons. After considerable research on its safety, (much safer than any other seat, actually), we moved forward with the seat. To my surprise, the two little boys both wanted to sit there. “They’re going to get sick so fast, “ I thought. But they didn’t. This left R the entire back seat (the middle seat) to himself, a great advantage when you’re not feeling well. The second benefit to the rear seat was this; L and D are very loud and obnoxious in the car. While they threw blankets on top of each other’s head, and made the most annoying goofy sounds, their voices carried straight to the back of the car. We could barely hear them. The trip was a bliss that R and W (who is big enough to sit beside me in the front) and I had not experienced in a very long time.
At Wal-Mart, I expected to pick up some 7-UP, my mom’s other health food, as I was unable to heat water for gelatin, and a few snacks to tide the kids over. On my way in, there was a large cardboard box display of Quantum of Solace , for $19.99. I was sorely tempted, but I kept going, deciding to wait until it appears at the library.
I was willing to raid the HoHos, Twinkies, and chips, and whatever else it would take to keep the kids out of the golden arches I knew were just up ahead in 20 more miles. First, I will emphasize here that my kids are very picky eaters, and I am pulling my hair out at every meal trying to satisfy their ever-changing palates. A condition, I am often reminded of by more experienced parents, that I created myself. Before I could make it down the junk aisle, the boys were already distracted and stalled in the produce section. D picked out a small snack-sized plastic tray of cute baby vegetables, with a cup of ranch dressing, what he called, his “lunchable.” L settled for an entire loaf of a French baguette that was on clearance with the loaves of day-old bread. (He ate the entire loaf in the car, save for one chunk.) W picked up a pack of dried mango slices (a food mentioned in the book on CD we were listening to in the car, Marley: A Dog Like No Other.) Once the 7-UP hit R’s stomach, he was ready to move on to solid food; the peaches he picked up and a chunk of L’s bread. He said, “I didn’t really start feeling better until I ate the peach.”
Left to their own devices, they selected foods not too far from the foods I try to serve them for dinner, yet refuse to eat, with the time-honored, exhausting struggle. This must be the original fast food.
And the newspapers? More on that later.