Saturday, November 14, 2009

Trashing the Van

When my fifth child was born, we outgrew our car. We'd been driving two cars for a while to get our whole family anywhere, but at five kids we no longer had enough seatbelts for all of the kids. Someone had to sit on the floor. Most of the time we walked rather than risk death, dismemberment, or expensive traffic tickets. For about three months, we walked. And walked. And walked.

The need to buy a van grew within me. Not just any van. A new van. A Toyota Sienna, the car of my dreams. Crazy thinking. But crazed or not, the notion took root, and each time I drove with my oldest on the floor or walked the four miles to church, it grew a little. By the time May rolled around, we had an addition complication: our family needed to move into my mom's place so some repairs could be completed at our house. That made the walk to church seven miles. One way. My growing little obsession blossomed and bore fruit.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't easy. My husband protested. I insisted. He strongly protested, but finally my insane determination triumphed. Against my husband's wishes and all sound budgeting, I purchased my first new car.


The day we drove our sparkly new 2002 van off the dealers lot, we drove past something like unto this:


I looked at my sweet husband and said, "That is our future."

And indeed it has been. The first ding was a parking lot boo-boo on the passenger's side. The biggest was when my MIL backed into our front bumper. The most irritating was when one of my cute angel-monkeys got mad at me and took a rock on a drive down the driver's side a few times. The most painful was when the Montessori teachers (who opened the door for the kids each morning) pulled the handle right off the passenger's sliding door. My husband cracked the right rear-view mirror. Spills, forgotten apples, children's wrestling matches, car-seat dents, soda explosions, mud, straw all have contributed to our van's condition. My contribution? A big scratch from my mis-installation of a bike rack the other day.

Even though the glory of my glittery new toy faded fast, I cannot tell you what a joy it has been to get into my car and have it start, to need to go somewhere and to just be able to get there, to be able to give rides to people. Quite honestly, I think I appreciate my grubby old van today as much as I ever have. Maybe even more. It's still going seven years and 140,000 miles later. Even my husband's been glad we got it. And that's saying a lot.

15 comments:

Kristina P. said...

Too funny. My husband HATES minivans. Something his father instilled in him. He won't even park next to one.

Jami said...

I think he might have been thinking more along the lines of financial ruin. Normally that's my job, but 2002 was a tough year and I cracked a bit.

mindyluwho said...

Eleven miles to church...would have done it for me too!

Jami said...

Mindy, I just fixed my math. It's only been seven years and it was only seven miles one way. Apparently seven is the number of the day. I just failed to realize it. :)

Melanie J said...

We bought a used Toyota Sienna fully loaded last month. I'm so in love I can't find the words. And that's just with number three on the way. I can't imagine doing the two car thing for five kids. It was the thought of my poor ten year old squished in the back seat between two car seats that finally pushed me into the purchase, but I haven't looked back.

Jami said...

See, you're smart, Melanie. I should have bought used, but at the time there was only about $4,000 difference for a brand-new van vs. a scuffy one with 45,000 miles. And I was just a little done with compromise at that point. Now I think "FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS!" At the time though...

Shellie said...

I want a minivan soooo bad. and we only have 2 kids. but there's so many times I have to pick up extra kids or haul something... a minivan would make it so much easier!

Meredith said...

Ahh, the first scratch on the new van. I know how painful that one is. But, 2 years and several nicks and scratches later, I didn't even think twice about it when I backed into my neighbors mailbox the other day.

Wendy said...

Minivan, shminivan, I much prefer a station wagon! (Guess that probably dates me, but I don't care! lol)

Jo said...

It is very sad how our wonderful new toys aren't so wonderful after someone else "plays" with them! Yours it least the same color!

Heidi Ashworth said...

First--yay! You posted! 2nd--I love the new background. Third--I so hear ya! My car is on the verge of just crumbling into the dust and every time it actually starts up, sometimes without even threatening not to, I do a little jig in my heart. As for dings and dents--I pretty much go out and ding it on purpose when I have a new (or new to me) car just to get it over with.

The Crash Test Dummy said...

ha ha This reminded me what a great writer you are. I love the way you articulate and postulate.

I miss my mini-van down by the river. We had to leave it in Hawaii because it was about to fall apart.

I really miss that van.

Jami said...

Wendy, why? Vans are SO much more comfortable in my experience. Of course, our family station wagon was an evil hunk of junk so maybe I'm just prejudiced.

Shellie, get one! Jump on the mini-van wagon!

Meredith, yep. I gave myself a huge pep-talk prior to the first scratch, so I was OK.

Jo, I do love blue! Did you ever get your door fixed on yours?

Heidi, thanks and thanks. I like my new background too. I like simple, but pretty. I thought about adding do-jobbers and thing-a-ma-bobs to glam it up, but decided this was more me.

Ah Crash, you flatter me. Keep it coming! The check is in the mail. Well actually, the SPAM will be in the mail any minute now.

SWIRL said...

I had to smile at your story-- we bought a new van 3 years ago-and I told my husband when we drove it off the lot- "DINK it right now- cuz I don't want to be the first to put a dent in this baby!"

He refused.. but sure enough two weeks later it had a scratch down the side of it... now our kids names are literally etched into the hood- as my kindergardner learned how to spell his name and brothers names...

it give character to a car I think!

Semen Rendi said...
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