Back when seatbelts were still a suggestion and more cars like our station wagon still had the mono-front seat where the driver could sit, as well as his six friends, and where for a little air, you had to roll down your own window with elbow grease…back when at least our car was like that, I was in the fourth grade. Only up until then, I hadn’t even had much experience rolling down my own window because…because I never got my own window.
By birth order alone, I was third in line for window controls. And on long trips. Fuh-gettabout-it.
Which everyone did until halfway to grandma’s that fourth grade year, I let heave the boot that’d been kickin’ my stomach the whole way over Steven’s Pass. Then with everyone’s attention, I squeaked for the fortieth time, “I just want some air.”
I only marvel at my mother who first thrust the frail garbage sack in front of my face and then held the bottom together with her hand until she couldn’t and then whirled the thing out the window without vomiting herself. Everyday heroics.
My dad neither slowed nor stopped the car. Uh…no emergency here.
That my husband’s childhood bears the same mark means, uh…something. And what that is may never come to me. I just know that while our daughter is deep in her third book in the far back corner of the van, our son is rapidly changing shades up front. Pink-yellow-green. And then just green.
Which is what happened today. Only I gather my driving’s to blame.
I’d dropped both kids off with my mother-in-law who packed them in the back of her car to head back home the same windy route I’d just come. Only I referenced her with a wave of my hand that my son had said he was sick.
And since I gave illness no thought, I drove off one way. And my mother-in-law…
My mother-in-law drove off with a car sick kid and his sister.
By which time from the sounds of his moans she figured out all was not well in the backseat and rolled the windows down till they met the door trying to fan life back into my son.
My daughter took over as his mother, held his hand, whispered encouragement, patted him, and told him he could make it. That is, until it looked as though he wouldn’t. And my mother-in-law inched to the side of the road, unstrapped my green son and walked a few laps with him around the car.
My son didn’t perk up. But he didn’t lose his lunch either.
Minutes later, he would walk into my in-laws house, crawl into bed and sleep for two hours in the same position.
At eleven p.m., he would finally do the same thing in his own bed while I collapsed across the hall.
All was okay…
until the next corner of curves.