Sunday, May 01, 2016

Here's Another Story

One of the genres that I teach 4th graders to write is the narrative. It is just a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. Doesn't seem that hard, huh? But, it actually is a little challenging. One big problem for my students is that they have trouble with making those very landmarks: the beginning, the middle, the end. They tend to ramble, and backtrack, and get off topic. Or they'll try to tell every single thing that happened all day, or for their entire trip to Disneyland. This tends to turn the story into a list. It loses the "narrative" aspect. Here's a story I wrote one time when we were all writing a story.

The Car Ride

It wasn't that we didn't know how to be gone from home. My younger sister and I stayed overnight with our aunt lots of times. We had driven the one hundred mile trip from our farm to her house in the city, many times each summer, actually. That summer, we were around 8 and 9 years old, probably. We enjoyed staying with her, and playing with our cousins, who were very near our ages.

We knew that we'd have to drive along the scary edge of the Palisades Lake. The water was was so beautiful, but the road was narrow, and winding, and, if you looked out the window just right, it would seem like only a few inches of a driving mistake would drop our car off the cliff into the deep reservoir.

It wasn't even the long stretch of road on Antelope Flat that was so boring. When you live in a narrow valley, with mountain ranges entirely surrounding you, that wide open prairie was a little forbidding. In the winter, the wind blew snow across the highway, obscuring the lines. And in the summer, the heat shimmered off the asphalt, and it seemed like you were lost in the desert.

No, our big problem today was the driver. We were traveling with our uncle, and we hardly knew him. He was the big brother to our mother and our aunt. But, we'd not spent nearly as much time in his company, as we had with our aunt. So we sat there, in his front seat, feeling very shy, as he drove that familiar highway from the city back to the farms.

Plus, that was another problem--the front seat. We couldn't see up over the dashboard. So, as we cruised along in his big old Buick, we started to feel the effects of the swooping, and dipping of his very nice shock absorbers. It was not a good effect.

About an hour into the drive, my sister leaned over and whispered that she didn't feel good. I told her to just take deep breaths. I'd already been concentrating really hard to stifle the queasiness I'd been experiencing, too. Actually, we were getting rather close to the section of the highway that my big sisters had named "Barf Bend." It seemed that, about half-way through many trips to our aunt's house, someone would feel carsick. My dad or mom would quickly pull off the pavement, and we'd all jump out, shoving the heaving child ahead of us, to avoid being splattered.

I looked again at my sister. She leaned over to say something else, but instead, hurled her breakfast into my lap! Which, naturally, caused all of my careful concentration to vanish, and up came my cereal, too. My poor uncle slammed on his brakes as he pulled the car off onto the shoulder, spitting gravel from under the tires. He leaped out of the driver's door, as I shoved open the passenger's door and we girls stumbled into the weeds along the highway.

"Oh," he said, in a very distressed, but attempting to be kind voice, "I wish you girls would have said something sooner!" Yes, we did, too. He did his best to clean up the mess. We heaved a little more into the weeds. We cried a little, and then just felt really embarrassed. We know he meant well, but his youngest child was 14 or 15 by then, so I know that he was quite uncomfortable trying to figure out what to do with us little girls.

We drank some water, and then climbed back in the car. We knew we didn't have to worry about a repeat. There wasn't anything left to barf out anymore. We were quite stressed about vomiting in his nice car. Somehow, we all made it back to our home. I can't remember what he and my mom said to each other. I'll just never forget how embarrassing it was to throw up in front of a virtual stranger.

Idaho State Highway 26