Travelling Companions and other Small Pests

Dad always said that while a few months old, I chewed my way through a carry-cot when we travelled from Hendon to Scotland with an aunt.

This was of course, long before car safety-seats for children.

He said they placed me, safe in my carry-cot, next to the aunt. His implication was that when they arrived in Troon, I was rolling about on the back seat having eaten my way through a fair amount of synthetics, a metal frame and some bedding. He suggested that if we’ve travelled any further, I might have eaten the aunt as well.

I suspect he was exaggerating and I just chewed on a handle.

But it’s true to say that I wasn’t keen on constraint.

One of my earliest memories is about running out of the house to tell a neighbouring child I had a baby sister. Another time, I gave our dog the slip and sneaked away to look at some sheep on a hill, while Mum was nappy changing or something.

Shortly after that I went off my sister. The Young Wives came round and said she was gorgeous. As for me, I was fobbed off with a colouring book and told I looked just like my Dad. As he was rather plump, going bald and male, this was very upsetting.

And then there was the pram incident.

I should probably never ever tell a psychologist.

It was Mum’s fault really. I used to sit in a sort of chair on top of the pram. When we got to town, she did what all mothers of the time did and parked us up on the pavement while she went inside the shop. On this occasion, it was a chemist. In the window were three enormous glass bottles filled with bright coloured liquid. Deep at heart I always hoped that one day Mum would buy the blue one. She never did.

Mum was going to the chemist for rose-hip syrup and I thought maybe she’d get me one of those yummy hard fruit lollipops. But then I worried, what if she forgot? I needed to remind her. There wasn’t much time. I squirmed and wriggled and slid forwards in my seat so that I could drop to the pavement then run into the shop.

That was the plan.

It failed.

Mum came out and found me on the pavement with the pram tipped up. For a moment, she looked frantically round for the baby. Where had she gone? Had she been catapulted out? An aggrieved wail made her look under the blankets. My sister had slid down inside the covers and was making her views felt.

This may explain a lot about my sister and me. The pram incident is buried in her subconscious and she spent most of our childhood and adolescence trying to get revenge.

I sometimes worry that she may still be planning it. And we’re going on a road-trip in the Autumn.

Oh dear.


Words and photograph copyright 2017 by Paula Harmon. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission

13 thoughts on “Travelling Companions and other Small Pests

  1. I remember those chair things on prams, carrycots on the back seats of cars and rose hip syrup and those coloured glass bottles in chemists’ windows – red, blue and green or similar. Happy days! Life was simpler then!

    1. Simpler but in terms of car travelling, more dangerous! And also in terms of sugar intake! I was so disappointed when I got rose-hip syrup for my children and discovered it didn’t taste like I remembered and then realised all the sugar had been taken out. Perhaps it’s no wonder our generation had fillings and our children’s don’t!

      1. I didn’t know you could still get rose-hip syrup but yes, exactly what I just said to Geoff about more fillings in our day! We also used to have orange juice as little kids – I think we got that free or subsidised with the rose-hip syrup but I guess that was a bit better for teeth! Seems funny to think we used to travel without seat belts all those years ago! And no one gave it a second thought or no one seemingly did until it became illegal to travel without one.

      2. Dad was very strict about seat-belts. If there was one to wear, we wore it, well before it was a legal requirement. He’d nearly died in a car accident and the seat-belt was what saved his life. My dentist said orange juice wasn’t much better because it’s reasonably high in sugar but more importantly, acidic. Can’t win can you?? You can still get rose-hip syrup, but I think it’s sold to have as a cordial or drizzled over ice-cream. I don’t think they try to market it for babies anymore!

  2. Thank you for writing this. It brought a smile to my face. I was not awful to travel with as a child except for the fact that I flat out refused to eat anything that wasn’t bananas or lobster and I was very vocal about my disappointment in restaurant menus,lol. But my youngest son became known in Brechin, Scotland as Baby Houdini. There wasn’t a car-seat or harness of any kind that would hold him for more than a few seconds. Travelling with him meant stopping the car every few minutes to strap him back on his seat. Good luck on your upcoming travels with your sis 😉

    1. Lobster? How fancy! Your son may be like mine. I left him in a car while I popped into a shop to see a friend and turned to see him climbing out of the window. My daughter used to do that thing where they go completely rigid with their limbs stuck out at angles like a starfish, just to make it impossible to get her into a carseat/pushchair/high chair. Maybe it’s genetic!

  3. revenge is sweet, and all mine!!! I used to put my daughter on the pram roof, as a change from her usual place between her brothers legs. she was 3, so a bit big really. it was fine, until in mothercare, I let go of said pram and she tipped it over. terrible mother.

    1. I can’t criticise. I forgot to buckle mine into the pushchair once when it had snowed heavily. I hit a curb and she flew out and landed like a starfish face down in the snow. She was startled rather than upset but you could see she was thinking “is this woman really my mother?”

  4. haha, this is great! I also lusted for the big bottles with the coloured liquid in them! My daughter went through a phase of screaming in complete terror when she was in her car seat, crying that we were going ‘too fast’ (even before we started moving) – after some severe trauma all round, some six months later I worked out it was the way her shoes vibrated against her feet when the engine was running. Let her go barefoot until she’d grown a bit – problem solved!

  5. There’s this lovely older couple who have this perfectly maintained pram that was actually built in 1920. They took their one year-old grandson out for a walk a few times and once I told them that they should try to find a working daguerreotype camera and take a picture of him while he’s in the pram.

    Then, later, when he’s older and he sees the photo and questions it they can say, “Well we took that picture when you were just a baby… a century ago.

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