It had been such a long trip in the backseat of the family car already. There were no seatbelts or child seats way back then so the two of us were pretty much "free" to move about behind our parents, seated in the front bench seat. It is likely that the new baby was lying between them on the front seat with my mother's hand lightly resting on her middle, but I cannot recall for sure. We were on our way to visit my father's brothers and, like any other three-year-old, I thought we would never get there!
Just one week after my birthday, we had a new baby sister. It was quite a big deal for a lot of reasons. For one thing, my parents thought that she needed her own bed but where would we put it? I was not at all sure why such a small baby needed to have her own bed because it looked to me like there was plenty of space on the big bed between my older sister and me. Of course, we would not want her to fall out so, until she learned how to stay on the bed, we should put her between my five-year-old sister and me. That should work just fine. Well, I doubt that anyone asked me as my earliest ever recollection of her came when she was in the big dark blue buggy which was her first bed. It was in the living room. Maybe it would not look so big to me now that I am not so little myself, but at the time I was trying my best to get a peek at the new sister, that buggy was a gigantic mountain to be conquered. I remember, clearly, one day everyone else was otherwise occupied and it was just Baby Glenda and me in the living room. I grabbed on to the edge of the baby buggy, just over the large wheel, and pulled. I stretched my neck out as far as it would go. No dice; I would never see her if I stayed on the floor because I was too short. but if I could just grab the edge, put my feet on the wheel, I should be able to peek over the edge at her without waking her up or making her cry. Should work from my point of view, anyway.
This might have been my earliest experience of "best laid plans" because it did not work at all as I had imagined. Firstly, I could not lift my short legs high enough to actually step up on the top of the wheel to look over the edge of the buggy. I would have to climb the wheel to get to the top of it. I grabbed on to the edge with my little arms fully extended and my tiny fingers curled and holding tightly to the buggy. I began my climb just a bit to the right of the wheel's center. First my right foot was placed on the edge of the wheel and then I jumped up so that my left foot would be on the wheel close to the center. As the buggy started to move to the right, I quickly remedied the motion by a sliding of my left foot until I was just beyond the center of the wheel. Figuring my right foot could easily follow and I would be balanced on the top, I made my move. Unfortunately, I over-compensated and suddenly the baby in the buggy and I lurched forward. I jumped off and pushed my foot against the rim of the wheel the way I did to stop my wheeled toys. There was still enough room ahead of the buggy for me to try again. For a second time, I stretched my arms as high as I could to grab on to the edge of the huge buggy. With my fingers securely gripping the edge, I positioned my feet as near as I could to the wheel but slightly to the right of center. Up went the left foot, followed as quickly as I could with the right foot. Ever-so slightly the buggy slipped to the left. I slid my left foot farther to the right at nearly the same time as I eased my right foot over and moved it to the center of the wheel. It was at this point that I realized that there was no room at the top of the wheel for both of my feet! Wow, I had not counted on that oversight! My cogitating was just a flash slower than the buggy and, before I knew what was happening, we were on the move again!
The third time did prove to be the charm for me as my perseverance paid off. It was a quick look, to be sure, but at last I was hanging on, feet to the left and right of the center on the top of the wheel and I was peering over the edge at the peacefully sleeping little bundle they said was my new baby sister. She was so small.
Now, two months later, we are in this car and my Daddy is singing his cowboy songs to keep us entertained. "The High Chaparral" was always one of my favorite traveling songs. My father just loved to sing so it is very likely that he sang the same songs at times when the family was not on a long trip, but this is when I was a captive audience so I noticed it most then. He sang hymns, too, and songs like "Jesus Loves the Little Children" so we could sing with him. After a while the melodies he sang were softer and slower. Not long hence, my parents had the premium quiet that was so rare, hearing only the rhythmic breathing of their little darlings coming from the back seat. My father knew just what to do to make this trip pass more quickly!
****Scene 2: When Is A Monster Not A Monster?… Coming Tomorrow