Car troubles

I have had a minivan since we learned we would be having four kids in our family. We had two little ones at the time, and our third turned out to be twins — too many to fit in the second row of a car. Hence, the minivan. I was sad to sell our zippy-by-comparison station wagon, but I came to love our minivan. So many drink holders! Seats for days! Doors that slid open and closed at the touch of a button! Sure, it drives like a pontoon boat and looks like an egg, but it works. There are a few things that even a minivan can’t resolve, and here are my solutions for car troubles. Not with your engine or those little mishaps entering and leaving the garage, silly. With the people inside.

Seating

You thought you were out of the seating argument in the car because of car seats, but you were wrong. That was just a fakeout. Kids do have to basically sit where their car seat is when they are too young to really complain. But when they get tall enough, and just when they get a little mouthy, they can sit anywhere. Except where their sister is sitting. Or where they agreed to sit last time. Or where they “called.” (Who invented this “I called it?” I would like to punch them in their punch buggy no punch back face tbh.)

This issue is mostly solved by turn-taking arranged among the children. I love a problem I get to say “you figure it out” to. It’s the perfect combination of something that I put minimal effort into that also qualifies as top notch parenting because it’s preparing them for adulthood.

Detritus

We lease our car, so I get a clean minivan once every three years. And we all pledge to keep it that way. And food or drink is banned in the car. Except mom’s coffee. What is a car without a little coffee splatter in the driver’s seat for aromatherapy?

But then, there’s a road trip, or someone needs a little after-school cheering up courtesy of jungle juice. Next thing you know, there’s 500 pomegranite seeds stuck between the seats. I have had the car with the built in vacuum (too weak) and we have a vacuum in our garage (I’ve had to retrieve a small shoe out of that one — too strong) but the best thing is a nice trip to the car wash. Sometimes they just take it out of the line and do an extra interior vacuum without even asking because they know that’s what this mama needs.

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Driving

Fool yourself all you want: you think you want to stop driving them around everywhere, you think that you ought to just invite Mrs. Kazel out for coffee rather than follow her around from school to school all day, but what you really don’t want is them driving you. Your little precious, the one who told you not so long ago that they would stop a car with their bare hands if they got stuck in the middle of the road without holding your hand? That kid is going to drive. A car. Thankfully, the state of New Jersey has set it up so they must spend six hours with a licensed driving instructor before they can drive with you. Try to remain calm when say “I drove on 287 today” and know that this is how life goes on. Maybe you will want them to drive you around one day.

Music

Six people sit in a car and agree on music. That’s a fantasy. Someone wants to hear “The Room Where it Happens” from Hamilton. A democratic majority of the people do, actually. But somehow in our car there is a veto in play. And once one person gets a veto, everyone wants a veto and we’re all sitting in silence until dad puts on Hall and Oates. No one actively dislikes Hall and Oates. Hall and Oates is the solution to most problems