My post of yesterday about the truly horrible pun (and if you haven’t read it, don’t scroll down and read it now—you’ll just get sick) started me thinking about the family vacations we took when my daughters were children and teenagers.
Those were special times, because we would always drive (as opposed to flying, hiking, etc.) This enforced time together usually included at least one overnight stay in a motel, and LOTS of time in the van.
Oh yes, our first “SUV” was a 1983 Dodge full-size van. Ideal for those family trips, the van had two bucket seats in front, not one but TWO bench seats, and then, all the way in the back, was still enough cargo room to carry everything four people could want during a week or two away from home.
We even kidded about throwing a kitchen sink back there along with everything else, just to say we’d brought it. But we never did.
Another nice feature of the van was the bench seats could be removed without tools, OR they could be turned to face the rear, or to face each other! That last arrangement became our favorite over the years. The girls could lie down and sleep, each with her own “bed.” Or they could sit side-by-side and look at a book or other object together. OR, they could sit facing each other with a lightweight piece of plywood on their knees between them and play board games. It was ideal.
But what I really remember is the times I would sing to them.
Now, I’m no Caruso. I can carry a tune, most of the time, but some of the notes may be a little (or a lot) sharp or flat—especially when sung a cappella.
No, it was the songs rather than the quality of the singing.
I’d sing them old (top 40 — remember those?) songs, like “The Witch Doctor,” and “Does Your Chewing-Gum Lose its Flavor (on the Bedpost Overnight)?” The girls had never heard them before and were delighted. Oh, another really old one was “Tan Shoes with Pink Shoe Laces.”
(Can you see me driving down the road singing, “Ooo, eee, ooo ah ah, ting, tang, walla-walla bing-bang...)?
As they grew older I switched to ballads—songs that told a story. One favorite was Bobby Gentry’s “Ode to Billy Joe.” Another was “Texas Rangers” (performed by several old western singers, and by Ian & Sylvia). Marty Robbins’ version of “El Paso” kept the girls spellbound, and they delighted in “Pride of Petrovar,” a wonderful, fast-moving Irish tale of Eileen Orr, the Pride of Petrovar, who fell for McGraw, the old horse-trader, because he ignored her!
We’ve had several discussions debating just what it was that Billy Joe and his girl threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge. And they’ve never forgotten those songs.
“So what,” you ask? I dunno. Those were just some special times of connecting with my kids. It’s something like what I can see Hamel doing with his boys.
Times like that with your kids will be treasured later. I call that “quality time.”