Memoir: ‘Monster Trucks and a Big Bag of Chips’

By Wendy L Macdonald

As a homeschool parent, teaching my children to read is one of the top terrific things I’ve experienced as a mama. One particular student I taught was fond of monster trucks and potato chips; these were the rewards he chose for me to give him if and when we completed the book: Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. For when he told me he wanted to learn to read, he wasn’t five-years-old yet, and I couldn’t picture my rambunctious young fellow sitting still for one hundred not-so-thrilling reading lessons.

I was right—it wasn’t easy. He got bored; he was tempted to daydream and do anything but pay attention. But my middle son is a determined young guy who rarely quits anything he’s started. So when he struggled to be studious, he would recite the phrase, “monster truck and a big bag of chips.”

It worked. He zeroed back into the boring book, and within minutes we were able to check off another lesson – done. He was not going to quit while visions of a new toy monster truck and a bag of chips were up for a grab and a gobble.

Teaching him to read was a mother and son bonding time for us. He was the middle child of a three-kids-five-and-under family. We rarely had a two-minute stretch of uninterrupted time together; these lessons were an oasis of fifteen minutes a pop.

Each day, while his baby sister was napping, we’d cozy up on the big green wool sofa that was older than the two of us combined. He’d often bounce around shirtless like Mowgli from the original print version of The Jungle Book because that was what we were reading at the time; I decided if his being shirtless helped him pay attention—so be it.

One hundred lessons passed by and prizes were awarded to the newest reader in the family. His grin grew giant-sized as I handed him the truck and chips. And though he’s now old enough and big enough to eat a truckload of chips (What teenager couldn’t?), I remember those lessons like it was this afternoon.

But this afternoon I witnessed another momentous milestone; I watched him drive his own red truck he’d picked out and paid for himself. He drove it up our driveway and parked it in place while I placed my finger on the shutter button of my camera. It wasn’t that I needed the reminder picture of what happened there in front of my mama eyes—I took it for him. I might not be around when his future son learns to read a book or drive a truck, but I wanted this memory to be there so he could share it with his children.

I took more pictures than he wanted me to because that’s what mamas do. We love on our kids, and then we scoot off somewhere private to brush away the tears we don’t want our sons to see.

Where does time go? How does it whiz by so fast that I feel like a character in a comic strip whose story is being scribbled down at lightning speed and all I want to do is slam on the brakes and shout, “Hold on, Mr. Time—what’s the big hurry?” I want another reading lesson on the couch where my son whispers, “Monster trucks and a big bag of chips.” I want to hug him long and hear him laugh instead of him saying, “Aww, Mama, I’m not your little boy anymore.”

But I look at the truck and see him pleased as a bare-chested Mowgli while he tinkers and polishes a life-size “monster truck” of his own.

It’s good. All of it. Really—it is.

Author’s Bio:


Wendy L. Macdonald is a Canadian, inspirational writer/blogger/podcaster who also loves to photograph nature. When she’s not writing, drawing, gardening, or sewing, she enjoys hiking, with her husband, in the beautiful parks of the Comox Valley. She homeschooled her children and believes all those years of reading wonderful classics aloud helped develop her love of storytelling and writing. Wendy invites you to visit her blog: where you will find nature photography and links to her “Daily Bread” style Facebook page and other social media sites. Her passion is inspiring others to walk with faith, hope, and love. You can hear her podcasts at

Wendy’s other links: 

Published posts on Two Drops of Ink:



Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing

More Memoir stories



  1. Wendy,
    You and I are kindred spirits! I loved this piece! Brought back many mama memories, of both reading with my littles and watching them drive into the sunset. I have found peace with this new empty nest role, as much as it ripped my heart out to get here! Life is a beautiful thing. 🙂

    • Thank you for your kind words. 🙂 Sometimes my kids act more mature than I do; they’ve also taught me a lot and continue to teach me. I’m glad to be on this journey with them.
      Blessings ~ Wendy

  2. Thanks for the connections, Wendy. I too raised three young ‘uns and enjoyed our story times. I also had three pre-schoolers at home at the same time. Toward the end of those wonderful years, I went back to teaching two days a week. I taught kindergarten at school.

    Home was rather like kindergarten too, so it’s a good thing I enjoyed young children and the chance to immerse them in music, good stories, math and playtime. . . Yes, the years do fly, but then the grandchildren come. I/We have been blessed.

    • Thank you, dear Sharon. Yes, raising preschoolers is “rather like kindergarten too.” I’ll bet you were a wonderful mother and teacher–and grandma now too. <3 Children pick up on our enthusiasm, and joy is doubled when shared.
      Blessings ~ Wendy

    • Thank you, dear Lydia. I must confess that mama-love not only brings blessings beyond compare, it also carries the potential for a deeper level of pain than I’ve ever experienced before. I don’t know how God copes with seeing His children suffer so much; I imagine it’s because He knows the happy endings too. I’m especially trusting for three particular happy endings. 🙂
      Blessings ~ Wendy

      • The fear of suffering is part of the reason why I never had children. Need a auntie or babysitter I’m there!!! The heartache would kill me!

  3. Hi, Wendy. What a wonderful lesson for al of us. You’ve captured, once again, that Mom-in-all-of-us feeling when our children are little and learning. And time – well, it does fly, but we can, and do take the pictures, and hope that someday, they’ll be glad we did.

    Hope to read another of your loving posts!

    • Thank you, dear Marilyn. Time sure does fly. It seems like only yesterday I was holding hands smaller than mine, and now just our cat is shorter than I am. But it’s all good.
      Blessings ~ Wendy

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