Ten Years in the Minivan

What’s the matter with the car I’m driving?
“Can’t you tell that it’s out of style?”
Should I get a set of white wall tires?
“Are you gonna cruise a miracle mile?

Nowadays you can’t be too sentimental
….’

…but the minivan was my signature. I didn’t need the school sticker on my bumper or my carpool number on the dashboard, because everyone knew the red minivan in carpool line was me.

Yesterday we traded it in, and my husband’s car became mine. It’s a much better, safer, cooler car. But I still feel a little sentimental, a need to record and preserve the memories made during the last ten years. Almost exactly. We bought it a few weeks before our third son was born. “We need a bigger car.” And he turns ten next month.

Remember….

….those early days when I had to pin him down like we were wrestling to get him in his car seat? Him screaming? Writhing? Me wondering if I was going to get arrested for child abuse?

….or the time the car smelled so bad even after we had it detailed, and it ended up that some breakfast sausage links I carried with me for toddler snacks had slid between the seats weeks before?

….the time I drove home from a ski weekend in below zero, snowy weather, and our middle son puked all over the back seat? I pulled over at that abandoned-for-the-winter sleepaway camp and changed him out of his gross wet clothes, both of us crying, sure he was going to get pneumonia.

….or a few years later, when he puked all over his friend on the way up to the mountains?

What about the time our youngest decorated his “happy place” by using a sharpie to draw a pirate scene in the third row seat? And then got mad at me because I scrubbed it off?

….or when his brother’s friends laughed so hard at the story that he did it again?!

….or when one of the few girls to ever get in my car climbed in, and after a quick look stated, “Wow! Your car is dirtier than ours.”

Remember the minivan caravan to Mount Rushmore? The camping trips? The embarrassment of swiping another mom’s car mirror in carpool line? The fights over who had to sit in the seat with goo stuck to it?

The day our oldest first rode in the front seat? Or our dog refusing to give it up?

Her nose smudges and dirty paw scratches on the windows, because, barking in my ear, blocking my view of the road, she tried to get at every truck that passed us by?

What about waiting for dad to pick us up at the airport one night? The boys spotted it in the dark distance because, “Mom, it’s the only minivan in the world that goes 90 miles an hour.”

The racing red minivan. A little sticky in places. A lot of dirt. Stories that make us laugh now. It was “still rock in roll to me.”

Advertisements

Racing Car Red

At midnight, the boys and I got our bags from a slow baggage claim while my husband went to get the car. When he texted that he was on his way, we went outside, and within seconds our thirteen year old shouted, “Here he comes!”

Faster than expected.

I looked into the darkness outside the garage but didn’t see him. “Are you sure?”

“It’s the only minivan in Colorado that goes 90 miles an hour.”

Family humming of Raiders of the Lost Ark commenced, as if we all knew what was called for.

A Pirate in My Minivan

My car stinking of acetone nail polish remover, and my eight year old son weeping in the back, I realized yet again the complexities of parenting. When I first discovered his drawings a few hours before, I was enraged.

Black Sharpie artwork all over the third row seat. A mustached pirate in a big hat holding an A- paper on the leather headrest. A large A+ on the side of of the car. “You are awsom” and a smiley face just below on the plastic armrest. Two eye balls peering out from the back of the middle seat. How did I not feel those eyes watching for an entire week?

A Pirate in My CarAwsom

I wanted to cross out “awsom” and replace it with “dead.” Or correct his spelling.

There will be no trading-in the red minivan, but I am not alone. Other mothers have suffered the same misfortune, stuck with old minivans because of the sins of their children. They offered remedies. A few pointed out that his artistic message was at least positive. No bad words. No sad faces.

And here he was unrepentant, sobbing that I had erased something he had worked so hard on and that made him happy every time he got in the car. His own little sanctuary that lasted for a week.

And so I stared, wondering which parenting path to take, and eventually patch-working together a response, likely muddied by too much nail polish remover.

In Defense of the Minivan

Driving home in our minivan last night, my son asked, “Why do Dads always tell jokes about minivans?”

“Because the only people who drive minivans are moms who need to cart around their kids to swimming or soccer or piano lessons. And no one thinks moms are cool.”

“It depends on the mom,” he said with great thought.

“Yep,” but I didn’t press my luck.

“And I like our minivan.”

“Me too.”