I wrote recently that running is a constant discussion with yourself about the things you never thought you’d do. As so often the case seems to be, it turns out I was perhaps a bit myopic. Running may indeed be a constant discussion with yourself, but only because it’s just one facet of LIFE, and in fact, LIFE is having that discussion with you. But it’s not so much having a discussion with you as it is lecturing at you for the test on Friday. Except that you slept through your alarm and you forgot your books and also the test is today. And you’re naked.
And life’s twists and turns and never-have-I-evers chug along, not unlike some cosmic train, and some of us get thrown by those turns and others don’t. Luckily, the course your life is on tends to follow the same turns as it has for others before you. You choose the career path, then you will have the trials and tribulations of climbing the corporate ladder. Choose the family path, and hey howdy, you get the wife & kids struggles. Stayed single? Sometimes things are better when they’re complicated.
Me, I’m on the family path. It started with “nah, I’m too young to get married.” Surprise. Then it was, “I’m too young to have kids.” Oh, did you think you knew where you were headed? YOU DIDN’T. Here’s a kid. Then it was, “The one is kind of a handful. Let’s not have another one just yet, or maybe ever.” Oh really? KABOOM.
Sprout the Second will be joining us in about a month, and with it come the old twists and turns again. Luckily, having had Sprout the First not so very long ago, I think we’re still close enough to fighting shape that we’ll be able to handle it without using up too many of our lives (we stocked up in world 3-1!). But there’s one twist we weren’t ready for.
One of the necessary evils (and oh, god, does the laundry list of necessary evils for parents stretch out for days) of having a kid is the car seat. You’re married (or not), enjoying life in your sedan or sports car or motorcycle or rickshaw drawn by eunuchs, then you have this tiny human you have to care for. Well, you can’t just slip a seat belt on him and call it a day, no, there are safety guidelines and LAWS to contend with, so you buy the car seat. Trouble is, while your sedan or sports car or rickshaw (not so much the motorcycle) might be happy to accept the car seat, it’s not really built for it. You have to bend way over. You have to buckle the thing in and strap it down using somehow ten times your body weight to keep it from sliding around like my dog on the hardwood floors. The kid develops a callus above his ear from where you whack his head on the door frame when you load him in. I mean, uh, that’s from his hat. Yeah.
Inevitably, inexorably, you begin to think that maaaybe you need something a little bigger. It’d be nice, is all. But you don’t really go there because it’s just one kid and he’ll be big enough soon enough that he won’t need the seat anymore so you can tough it out until then.
Then you have Sprout the Second on the way and you realize, crap, the sweet zippy little Yaris you had almost paid off and that you love so very very much just isn’t going to get the job done anymore, and it’s time to upgrade. But there’s one thing you won’t do.
You’ve heard the word whispered like a death wind across the graveyards of guys who used to be cool. You’ve seen them gliding around town like ghosts, bag-eyed drivers at the wheel, hyperactive kids yelping in the back and throwing candy and trash and half-chewed pop tarts at the backs of their heads. You’ve seen the commercials boasting about the “surprising gas mileage” and “car-like handling” as if to lessen the blow. The mere mention of the word sends you scrambling for the keys to the convertible to see if maybe, just maybe, there’s room for two car seats back there.
After the news of Sprout the Second, my next “I’ll never” was “I’ll never drive a minivan.” In a word, it was inconceivable. Actually, that word demands an exclamation point. Inconceivable! No, give me an SUV, give me a crossover, give me anything but a FARGOING MINIVAN. But my wife wanted a minivan.
So we bought a minivan. But I’ll tell you a secret.
I FARGOING LOVE THE MINIVAN.
It rides smoother than either of our other little cars. The driver’s seat is more comfortable than in either of our other cars. If I get in a wreck in this thing, I will be encased in a cocoon of airbags and bounce merrily to happiness (there are something like seven hundred airbags in the thing, for serious). There is enough storage space in the thing to transport, I dunno, a family of hobos, or perhaps a couple of moose. Seriously, I thought the Camry had a bunch of trunk space, enough to hide a body, maybe two. I could fit five or six bodies in the back of the van without even putting the seats down. You know, in case it ever comes up. All that’s nice, no doubt, but what I really love about it, what I really cannot state emphatically enough about it, are two things.
1. The sliding doors open remotely. I wanted to condemn this feature as needless, indulgent, and lazy, I really did. Who needs to open a door before you get to the door? Who’s so burdened that they can’t spare a hand to open the door? FARGOING PARENTS DO, and FARGOING PARENTS ARE. This feature alone is worth the price of admission, and that’s with one kid to wrangle into the backseat. I can only imagine what it will be like with two. You’re coming out of the store with two armloads of groceries on one arm and the sprout holding your other hand? Open that door with a click of your thumb. It’s the haberdasherified sharknado and I am not ashamed to brag on it.
2. You can put the sprout in his seat without bending over. I’m gonna say that again. YOU CAN PUT THE SPROUT IN HIS SEAT WITHOUT BENDING OVER. Look. I’m a relatively healthy guy with more than a handful of good years ahead of me. I have no history of back problems. Yet I am confident that loading the little guy into the back of our 2-door has contorted my spine into a bony Moebius Strip. Those of you without kids, or just getting ready for the first kid, or maybe even in the first year of the first kid are laughing at my hyperbole. That’s okay. I feel you. Laugh it up. Come see me when you’re three inches shorter from bending over to put the kid in the backseat.
So I invite you. Snicker behind my back. Call me names and talk about how I used to be cool. I don’t care. Because I know the truth. MINIVANS ARE THE SHARKNADO. See me rollin’.