You know the gratifying sensations experienced when taking possession of a new car: the smell, the reflected glory of the unblemished exterior finish, as well as the spotless carpeting and upholstery. It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when these feelings dissipate...unless you have kids. Concrete rules are laid down, such as "no eating in the car" and "nothing but water to drink in the car", but these are futile commandments, doomed to evaporate the moment you plan your first vacation. I vaguely remembered similar experiences until a recent trip with my daughter and two grandchildren. To paraphrase a famous author, "Never was there a story of more woe, than this of Sarah and her minivan."
Entering the vehicle, I sat alongside a 6 year old and an 8 month old - death to any new vehicle. I didn't have the heart to tell my daughter what awaited her sparkling new Honda Odyssey on a 3-day trip to the beach. She was resigned to the sprinkles of sand that would surely make their way inside and, truth be told, we weathered the trip fairly well, given the ages of the occupants. There only remained the trip back home.
When I took a turn driving, my daughter's voice shrieked, "Did you make those marks, trying to put the key in the ignition?" I pointed to her 5-pound set of keys that swung pendulously in my defense, silencing her until the baby spit up on her after nursing. "Watch out!" she screamed as the car moved 3 inches over in its lane while I reached for the tissues she needed to clean herself off. Things settled down until the third replay of "Monsters, Inc." and "Enchanted". The small people moaned with hunger and she proclaimed it was time to stop at Sonic. The minature occupants were told to eat carefully (rules #1 and 2 had now been cast aside) and we then pumped gas for the remainder of the drive home.
The 6 year old was tired of movies and wanted to color, but her mother lived in fear of lost crayons, melting in the summer heat. We compromised, and she was allowed to use one crayon at a time. I handed her the box to pick out a color when, distracted, she let the box tilt and 80 crayolas cascaded to the floor. In her distress, she spilled some of the cherry limeade. The resulting maternal explosion woke the baby, and so we sat on the shoulder of the highway while Sarah angrily plucked crayons, the 6 year old wept and the baby screamed in memory of the demise of the new car. Now we can finally relax and enjoy it.