There are a lot of lessons that I have unexpectedly side-swiped or rear-ended in my minivan.
Some of them aren’t surprising, like constantly being called “ma’am” in drive-through windows. Lesson learned: I am old. You have to be a “ma’am” to drive a minivan. Right?
Sorry, men. Or “sirs.” I constantly get honked at for not accelerating fast enough at red lights. Usually, I’m repeatedly saying “Huh? What did you say?” to one of my kids. Or trying to pick up a fallen toy. Lesson learned: people can be really rude and impatient hidden inside of their cars. Do they really need to get to that next red light quicker than me? Yes.
I’ve lost a few tire decorations AKA hubcaps from my frequent curb checking. It’s a big vehicle. Lesson learned: curbs or islands can just spring up out of nowhere, especially in Kansas.
Then, out of nowhere, arrive the instances when I have these amazing “pause time” moments in my van. In these times, I wish I had a hidden video camera or voice recorder somewhere. Last night, a tired four-year-old boy asked or demanded that he wanted “somebody to hold me.” He was in his car seat, and I was driving. I couldn’t hold him. His brother said, “I could hold your hand, Colby.” And suddenly, all of the arguing that had happened prior to that moment disappeared from my mind. It was a priceless brotherly moment. I happily watched in my rear-view mirror at a red light.
I’m a below average chauffeur and pretty mediocre when it comes to minivan climate control. I’m constantly adjusting the thermostat. It’s always too hot or too cold. When I glance over my right shoulder, I notice a weird smeared substance or what appears to be lick marks all over one of the back windows. And a Target sticker that, well, won’t ever come off. Most days, my van is an endless sea of returned papers, worksheets or art projects. And leftover everything. Hubcaps off to those parents who don’t allow their kids to eat in their vehicle. When the zombie apocalypse strikes, you can borrow some of the food in the cracks of crevices of everywhere inside of mine.
Despite all of its quirky characteristics, I have chosen to spend many moments in my van. For some reason, it helps me think more clearly. More creatively. And more deeply. It does this for my boys, too. I have jotted down numerous conversations that we have had while driving. Sometimes, I’m completely overwhelmed by the questions or thoughts that pop into and out of their heads. Then there’s those other times when they won’t stop touching each other, so I’m just trying really hard to listen to the song I like on the radio.
The other night we were driving and one of my sons said, “Mom, you know when I saw that shooting star, and I made a wish? I’m gonna change my wish. I wish I could ride on that shooting star.”
I replied, “That would be awesome. Where would you go?”
“I would go to all the planets and Venus. But not the sun. It would be too hot, unless I had protection. Yeah, I would have a metal outfit then I would ride to the sun, too. And I could stand on the sun and not be burned.”
I told him that I would like to ride on a shooting star, too.
Lesson learned: my son wants to go for a ride on a shooting star. Another stellar conversation on a drive in the van. I can’t help it. I love that uncool, messy, curb-checking, crumb-a-palooza and home for various species of missing fries. The best conversations always happen while we’re driving around in there. If my boys ever need help with creative thinking later in life, I know the fix. We will all pile in there and go for a drive. And I’ll try not to accidentally hit any curbs. Who I am I kidding? Those curbs spring up out of nowhere. I will most likely hit one. We will laugh. I will say, “Whoops. Curb check…”and hope that Daddy doesn’t have to order another hubcap from Amazon.