Putting on the Big Boots

Are we there yet? Some things never change

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Times change. Inventors strive to make our lives easier by saving work or alleviating stress. Consider how technology has affected the ways we travel. I was in my fifties when I experienced my first airplane flight, not at all prepared for the turbulence or ear popping.

Barely two, my youngest grandchild recently followed her mother up the boarding bridge onto a Delta Airline 459 Boeing for her first flight. Buckled in her special seat, she waited for the takeoff. As the plane hurtled forward and began liftoff, the child clearly expressed her thoughts to every passenger on the plane: “I just want out of here!”

Travel can be a challenge. Add a child or three or more and “challenge” becomes an understatement.

Growing up, our family did not take many long car trips, but when we did, we entertained ourselves. The car had a built-in radio, but most often we listened to our parents talking to each other; there was a continual commentary on the crops or the health of the animals grazing in the pastures. As Dad drove along, we all checked license plates and called out the name of the state. Delmer and I kept a tally of the pheasants along the road. I remember counting the cars in a train as it rolled along on its tracks beside us. We were never bored, or at least we knew better than to admit it. About the time I started pestering my siblings or asking “how much longer?” Dad would chime in with “Do you know what direction we are going?” and follow with a course in Cardinal Directions 101. At the time, gaming devices, iPads or smart phones were unheard of.

Twenty some years later my siblings and I experienced travel time with our own children.

The miles flew by faster when Dorothy’s family counted “Herbies” (Volkswagens). They sometimes made it down to 49 “Bottles of Beer on the Wall” before Ed, the dad, yelled, “Stop!”

Deloris recalls that her husband need only press down the brake of the old station wagon when their children passed the acceptable noise and complaint limits.

Books, crayons, notebooks and travel games filled our vehicle when my family journeyed into the sunset. A cassette player sported the dash of our 1992 Dodge Caravan. Psalty the Singing Songbook entertained us while we cruised along. As the ride drew longer, the five daughters grew restless. Tattling began. “She’s looking out my window!” (Seriously?) Their dad decided Psalty should sing louder.

On nearly every long excursion, the age-old problem occurred: morning orange juice coming through. Too far to the nearest rest area and too far to the nearest town, I remember waiting in slight embarrassment as I discovered why the grass is always greener on the other side of the exit!

Not long ago I had the opportunity to accompany a daughter and her family on a three- hour trek. Four boys crawled into the SUV and buckled up. They reached for their Kindles and phones and immediately became engrossed with the small screens flashing in front of them.

I leaned back on the comfortable headrest, thinking how good young parents have it these days with all the amazing technology for travel. No loud music blaring. No need to lug along crayons and notebooks and puzzles. No kids teasing or pestering each other. I settled in for a peaceful, relaxing drive with plenty of visiting time with my daughter.

About twenty minutes after merging onto the interstate, I felt feet press into the back of my seat. “Are we there yet?” We ignored the question, hoping a distraction might magically come along. “Mom, he touched me!” The daughter shook her head and looked at the dash, considering what country music station to tune in.

“How much longer until we get there? I’ve gotta go!”

I smiled to myself as my daughter rolled her eyes. Some things just never change.

Kruempel’s newest book release, Once Upon a Midwest Sunset, as well as her series, Promises to Keep, are available on Amazon.com. Once Upon a Midwest Sunset (an excellent gift) is a compilation of the stories from her NOOKS AND CRANNIES column, which was published in five newspapers in 2020-21. Contact her at deannkruempelauthor@gmail.com and receive free stories, recipes, photos and updates.

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