Traveling With Children

Child’s Play
by Doug Bayliss

The holidays. The most traveled days of the year.

Let us reflect on why some parents dread family road trips. Is it filling up the gas tank?  Paying Tolls?  What to eat along the way?

No -it’s the thought of the whining…, the poking…, the cries of…   “Are we there yet?” All from the little angels crammed into the back seat!

Luckily, there are ways of keeping kids happy while riding for hours in a car. To demonstrate, I’ve created a cast of characters to show you just what I mean. They are about to embark on a trip to Grandma’s house.

I will let the family introduce themselves:

“Greetings all. This is Dad.”
“Hello everyone, I’m the Mom.”
“Whatever, I’m Bobby.”
“Can I stay home? I’m Nancy.”

Narrator: Let’s listen in as our family gets ready to leave…

Okay everybody. Ready to go to Grandmas house?
Yay Grandma’s house!
I wanna stay home and play with toys!
Bobby we know you’ll have lots of fun once we get there.  Everybody in the car!

Narrator: They hop in the car, and after buckling up, “Over the River and through the woods to Grandmother’s house they go!”

This should be a terrific day.
I just hope there’s not a lot of traffic.

Mom Bobby is looking at me — Am not — Are too — Am not –ARE TOO!

Now stop it children… Are we there yet? No… I’m thirsty. I wanna drink of water.

Kids kids! Enough already!  Let’s play a game called “I Spy.”
I’ll start. I spy with my little eye something orange.”  The sticker on the window! Is that right?
Yes Nancy, good. Now it’s your turn.  “I spy with my little eye something… Yellow.
The check engine light! Haha! I spy something blue.
High bean light!  I spy something red.
Seat belt clicker! I spy something gold.
Mom’s necklace! I spy something green….

Narrator: Everyone is looking around but nothing green seems to be visible…

There is nothing green.  It was a sign we passed way back there. Hahaha  I win
You don’t win, you’re a cheater.
Am not. You always cheat.
Do not.
Do too.
Do not!!!
I’ll stop this car!
Okay okay lets try a different game.  This one is called horses.  Just count the horses you see on your own side of the car.

If we pass a cemetery on your side, you lose all your horses and have to start over.
That’s not fair.
Yes, but if you hold your breath all the way past the cemetery, you can keep your horses. Dad will let us know if we come up on one.
Sounds like fun. First one to count 50 horses wins!

Narrator: Our family no sooner starts playing when they drive by a field of what looks like 100’s of horses.

A Million-Zillion horses. I win I win!
That’s not fair. How come she always gets that side of the car?
You’re just mad because I won.
Am not, you always get to sit behind Dad.
Look Bobby, see what’s ahead?
Oh Boy look at all those horses on MY side! I got more than you – I win!
No you don’t I won first!
Did not.
Did Too.
Look kids a cemetery up ahead. And look, it’s on both sides of the road! Remember, hold your breath or lose all of your horses!  Ready? Here it comes… 1.., 2.., 3…

Bobby is breathing through his nose.
I am not.
That’s cheating.
I am not breathing through my nose.
You are too.
Oh yea, well you’re breathing because you’re talking to me!
Am not I can hold my breath and still talk.
Well so can I!
You’re both talking and breathing. You both lose your horses!
No fair.
Yeah no fair.

Okay this game ends in a tie. Let’s try a game where we can make up a story.

It’s called “The House on the Hill.”  On your turn make up stories about people who live in the houses we are driving by.

Can I go first?
Okay Bobby, you go first.
See that house over there? Really old people live in there… and they eat children!

You’re  scaring me.
You’re a baby.
AM not. AM too. AM not. Yes you are.
Waaaa I’m not a baby.
I’m losing my patience with you two… I will stop this car!!
Look kids, let’s try another game. This one should be no trouble for us at all. Remember the Minister’s Cat ?

Make up words to describe the minister’s cat using letters of the alphabet. Nancy you can go first starting with “A.”
The minister’s cat is an Apple cat.
What kind of cat is that? There is no such thing.
Is too!
Is not!

It’s okay maybe the minister’s cat just happens to likes apples. I’ll go next. The minister’s cat is a beautiful cat. Your turn Dad.
The minister’s cat is a cautious cat. Your turn Bobby.
The minister’s cat is a dead cat.

Waaaa Bobby killed the minister’s cat!
Did not.  did too.  did not.
Then why did you say he’s dead? Because he got runned over by a car. Waaaa!!

That’s it I have had enough! I’m pulling this car over!

Narrator: To everyone’s surprise, Dad pulls the car into a rest area and stops the car. Mom and kids are wide-eyed and full of nervous anticipation:  Dad has never actually pulled the car over before. He turns his head towards the children and yells:

Chinese fire drill!
Yea let’s go!
Weeee fun!
Oh lord help us!

Narrator: With this latest round of excitement the kids fall asleep and mom and dad have a nice quiet ride for the rest of the trip to Grandma’s house.


Note: From the Toastmasters Advanced Speech manual “Interpretive Reading.”  The project is to portray several characters in one reading using voice changes as a movement.

Introduction: “In this original composition, “Child’s Play,” Doug will share some games to play during long car trips in hopes of making the ride less stressful, especially if traveling with children.”

Lemon Meringue Pie

A Folk Tale
by Doug Bayliss

Back in my door to door salesman days l met an awful lot of very interesting people and encountered many unique circumstances. Many of you may remember my encounter with Wilbur the 3-legged pig! I’d love to tell that one again someday if you’d like to hear it, but this story is about a visit I had with a chicken farmer out in Lancaster County.

I can smell the bittersweet aroma as I recall driving up the long dirt lane, past the many barns and chicken coops to the farmhouse.

Chicken farmer Joe was waiting for me, patiently rocking in a large old looking wooden rocking chair on the front porch. I knew he was excited to learn about our new patented gizmo to make feeding his thousands of chickens so much easier.

“Hey there Joe,” I yelled. “Afternoon.” He said, “Have you got the new contraption?”

“Sure do. Let me back the truck around and we’ll get it unloaded”

Well, we worked the rest of day into the early evening unpacking and setting up Farmer Joe’s new feeders. He was incredibly happy.

joe“Man this is going to save me so much time!” he exclaimed. Delighted, he invited me to stay for supper just as the dinner bell was ringing. Ding ding ding, ding ding, ding ding!

I politely refused but he convinced me to stay. “My wife is the best cook in the whole county. She wins a 1stplace blue ribbon every year at the county fair with her eggs-quisite lemon meringue pie. And it just so happens she’s making her prize-winning pie today, for tonight’s dessert!” He sure was excited about that lemon meringue pie.

“How can I refuse,” I said, so we dusted off our clothes washed up and went inside. There is nothing like the smell of a good home cooked meal. We sat down at a big country table, and as Joe’s wife was bringing the food in, I recognized her right away. To my surprise, Joe’s wife was my high school girlfriend Mary Joe. She recognized me too, but she said not a word.

After dinner, Mary Joe brought out the oh-so-scrumptious lemon meringue pie and we each ate several slices. As I reached for the last slice Joe smacked his hand down on the table. Whomp! “No sir,” he said. “That last piece of pie is for me. Mary Joe will pack it in my lunch tomorrow.”

Well, we talked and joked for a while, and tasted some of Joe’s dandelion wine, maybe more than we should have. “It’s getting kind of late, why don’t you stay the night and head back into town in the morning,” Joe said.

“You know Joe that doesn’t sound like a bad idea. But I don’t want to impose on you and Mary Joe, you’ve both been so gracious already.” “No problem,” says Joe. But he says “We only got the one bedroom with one bed. You and Mary Joe can just sleep on each side and I’ll sleep in the middle.”

This seemed a little odd, but feeling a bit tipsy from the very tasty dandelion wine, I agreed and we all walked upstairs to the bedroom.

Mary Jo and I took our places on each side of the bed when suddenly Farmer Joe jumps out of the closet with a shotgun! “What are you doing?” I exclaim, “I thought we were all just gonna share this bed and go to sleep for the night!”

“Don’t make a fuss,” Says Farmer Joe. “ We have a problem with a Coyote sneaking up here at night and eating our chickens. I like to sleep with old iron sides here at the ready.”

With that, he climbed on into the bed. So there we were. Me on one side, Mary Joe on the other side, and old Farmer Joe lying right there between us with his trusty shotgun old Ironsides. Remarkably I dozed off to sleep.

Bang! Bang! I awoke to the sound of old Joe apparently outside shooting at a Coyote. I glanced over at Mary Joe who was also awake and looking affectionately back at me, enticingly said, “Now’s your chance.”

Thinking for a moment, I realized she was right. Quickly I dashed down the stairs, grabbed the last piece of the delicious lemon meringue pie and sped away fast!