Parents: Respect the Van

Meika Rouda

By Meika Rouda

I hit my mom’s car a few weeks ago. Usually I am a careful driver, plus my car is equipped with these devices that beep hysterically to alert me to any chance of me hitting an object within two feet of my bumper. But on this particular day I was rushing and agitated and ignored all annoying beeps and hit my own mom’s car which was parked in the driveway next to mine, while she was watching. This was not my best moment. But that’s another story.

So I had to rent a car while my car was being fixed and I agreed to let my six year old son chose the car. I knew it was risky but he was so excited by this opportunity I couldn’t say no. His first choice was a red truck, which thankfully they did not carry at the rental shop. Second choice was a convertible but those were all rented for the week so we went with his third choice, a minivan.

I have never been a fan of the minivan. Minivans were for people who had given up. But my kids were thrilled with this new house on wheels. They could unsnap their seatbelts and get out of their seats while I was driving to walk to the back row of seats and strap in. The minivan could fit both of mykids, five other passengers, three bikes, two scooters, four skateboards and an office chair. Plus there was a TV. And did I mention the absurd amount of cup-holders? For the front seat alone there were seven. Really, seven cup-holders for two people. The back seat had another ten for the rest of the passengers. We drove home and I took photos of the minivan in my driveway to send to my friends.

The next morning we woke up twenty minutes before school was starting. We jumped to action getting dressed, brushing teeth, cobbling lunches together and grabbing breakfast to go. As my kids and I ran down the stairs towards our driveway I saw the minivan glowing in the distance and I remembered the double sliding side doors, a feature my kids spent the better half of the prior evening testing out over and over again. The dual sliding doors that I could open from my trusty remote control key chain. Cha-chink, I pressed the buttons and just as we reached the bottom of the stairs, the doors finished opening, both kids jumped into their seats, closed their doors and boom, we were off. It was amazingly efficient. This is really when a minivan is in all its glory, acting as a mother’s best friend looking out for her. The minivan had my back. We made it to school on time.

By day three I had become one with my van. I proudly showed it off to my friends and winked at other minivan drivers when we parked next to each other at the grocery store. I started seeing mini-vans everywhere. Ones with sassy bumper stickers that said “RESPECT THE VAN” or “I USED TO BE COOL”. I could get with this ironic, sarcastic crew of minivan lovers. I get it!

The minivan inspired me. I finally cleaned out the garage, a task I had been putting off for months, well years really. But now that I had the van, I was empowered. I filled the van with our useless broken things and we went to the dump, the minivan brimming with small appliances that no longer worked and broken bike-pumps and still there was room for me, my kids and seventeen beverages. Plus the bikes and skateboards I didn’t bother taking out of the van because I didn’t have to, there was plenty of room.

Our new life with the van was full of productivity and large group outings. Then the day came when my car was fixed and ready to be picked up. We had to return the van. I took a deep breath and imagined how I would get along with only two drink holders and four passengers instead of my regular seven. After a pricey fill up at the gas station, my kids and I bid it farewell. We got into our old car, and it felt good. I loved the minivan but I felt happy in my old car. I can parallel park, the kids can’t walk around while I am driving and I don’t feel like I have to offer to drive for every field trip. But I have to say, I look at minivan owners differently now. I respect the van.

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