Let's pause here for a second and let that sink in.
Can you tell I have conflicted feelings? Can you tell that even though our lease was up, on what some may deem as our equally uncool station wagon, and that we definitely needed a bigger car to accommodate our growing family, that the thought of an actual mini-van has haunted me for a while?
Let's be perfectly clear, the last time I spent any considerable time in a mini-van it was being driven by my then 19 or 20 year boy-toy (now my husband) around the streets of the town where we grew up in an ardent attempt to find a place for us to hook-up. I don't know if I should even be admitting to that because I am not 100% sure he won't still get in trouble for it. But in the spirit of full-disclosure, and the fact that he knocked me up three times leading us to this mini-van purchase, I am fully admitting it here.
Let's also be clear, I am not a car person. I have no idea about makes or models and I don't particularly care about all the bells and whistles. I am glad when the radio works and the AC does its job. If asked to identify the getaway car after a hypothetical bank robbery, I would maybe be able to tell you the color and if it was a very recognizable make like a Hummer or a VW Bug. But the terms "late-model sedan" or "V6 engine" mean less than nothing to me.
And yet I found myself trolling the Internet looking at any type of car that might accommodate my three kids and our uncanny ability to accrue stuff. I looked at SUV's and cross-overs. I researched price and style and I tried to figure out what would work best for us as a family. Sure, the smaller SUV's with the optional third row were more sexy than the boxy vans, but in all actuality they looked like a pain in the ass to get car seats in and out of and they were lacking on storage space.
|The Ladies on their maiden voyage in the mini-van.|
|The Little Lady really thinks she should be driving this thing. Note the amount of stuff already in the car and the fact that one part of the way back is down, but I can't figure out how to get the seat back up.|
But now that I have almost 5 days of mini-van driving under my belt, including a two-hour drive to the beach house, I am trying to focus on the positives of this family machine and less on the stigmas of being a mini-van driver. I know that there is a divide out there in the parenting world about these vans. There are those in the "Loser Cruiser" camp and those in the "Swagger Wagon" one. I will say I was hesitant about joining the "Swagger Wagon" constituency, mostly because it seemed a little cultish. Every mini-van driver out there seemed to be trying to convince me to join their side. I also was convinced that the minute I pulled into my driveway in the new car, I would be compelled to get those cartoon stickers for the back window that represent each person in our family.
In the end, I think we made the right decision for our family. We got a nice new car with ample space for not much more than we were paying for the wagon. It has drop down DVD players with headphones for the Ladies and the option to watch two different movies at once, plus a rear view camera so that I can see if I am backing into any garbage cans.
It also has three free months of satellite radio. So I set the dial to the Grateful Dead channel and sometimes I find myself thinking about those other vans I might have spent some time in in my youth while waiting for a concert or two to start, and then I look in my little fish-eye mirror and catch my own little miracles in their captain chairs, singing off-key to the Strawberry Shortcake theme song while wearing their headphones and I think that maybe we made the right decision after all.