We recently became the proud lessees of a Honda Odyssey minivan. It is big, it is overtly parental, and I love it. I love it, and Will loves it, and we are not ashamed though we know that most of our peers do not approve. We hear you, we love you, but you are kind of full of it.
Here is why it is awesome and how your pleas leave me unmoved:
It is made for parents. Like, down-to-the-detail, Honda learned who you are, what obstacles you faced, and to the extent that a car can fix them, it does. Did you hear “parents”? Good. Because of course I do not speak to the utility of the minivan to the childfree. No kids? Run free! Drive a two-door car! A Vespa! Better yet, don’t drive! Move to a city and enjoy your joie de vivre train-side!
I don’t even really speak to the one-child’ed. In fact, we had no car in Germany where Edie was born, and being fortunate enough to live in city with great public transport, we didn’t miss cars one bit. But here we sit, in these United States, with its wide roads and strip malls, we are city-adjacent but have only standard US (and therefore, sadly, unexceptional) public transport. But even in Munich, I don’t know how we would’ve fared with no car and two kids. Circling back to the singleton household, yeah, a minivan may be overkill. That’s valid. Given the trappings of today’s modern child, it is not unthinkable by any means, but “it’s too much car” is, to me, a legit, neutral reason.
But for more than one kid? Come on. I have squeezed two children and their car seats into a non-minivan car. Children and babies are small. Car seats are islands unto themselves. Factor in a double stroller, the 30lb of food that each kid needs to be out of the house for more than half a day, the two dogs you acquired back when you should have had kids already but instead you misplaced your maternal leanings on to what you now realize are loathsome creatures, and you got yourself a van-full, amigo mio.
Then there are the sweet, sweet amenities. When I first learned of the little perks, I thought, “am I totally frivolous for wanting a car kind of a lot because it has built in sunshades?” My frivolity is neither here nor there. Because when you get down to it, all of these little ameniities incrementally add up to something only just short of grace. Yes: grace. Picture it: your arms full of groceries, one kid on your hip, the other threatening to dart into the parking lot, you’re cajoling and yelling, it’s freezing out, and then you reach for your remote and then …. Beeeeep …. The trunk pops open, both side doors slide down their tracks, leaving space between your car and the car parked inconsiderately close by. Your wild kid gets to climbing in, the baby gets set gingerly in his seat, and you plop the groceries down on the wide open surface of your trunk. Three more buttons, everything closes while you start the car to take this zoo home. The moments and exertion you saved count.
You say, it lacks maneuverability. I mentioned that I was speaking to parents, right? Yes, I did. So, maneuverability, you say? For all those turns at break neck speeds with your kids in tow? So you can chuck a juice box to the back seat while popping up on two wheels to avoid the 5-0? Listen, there is a reason that Raffi is not on the Fast & Furious soundtrack. I am not saying it’s not big. I am not saying it’s as easy to park as a smaller vehicle. It feels like you are driving a yacht. A glorious, safe, comfortable, and plenty-maneuverable-for-your-parental-life, yacht on wheels.
But, the gas mileage! I call shenanigans here! Or more precisely, a little something we lawyers call pretext, y’all. Anyways, Mr. Mario Adretti, with all your maneuverability, I would hardly think that you are concerned with gas mileage? But driving fast is the real gas guzzler! Stay at 55 and you are going green. And my sweet ride, oh she loves a good 55. And anyhow, are you driving a Prius or something with all your kids?** Seriously. This isn’t much of a thing. Also, go ahead and cut down on animal products and rinse out your ziplocs. That’s how we do.
The thing of it, the real thing? It’s not cool to drive a minivan. It is downright dorky. Not nerdy; I know nerds are in. Not geeky either. No, I am 5’6” of pure dork in that thing. But you know what? If you ever have the chance to learn to let go of caring about the cool factor, to shed the weight of living up to these impossible ideals you set up for yourself long ago: Do it. Feels amazing. For example, as a result of my ongoing journey to let go of being who I think I should be and instead trying to roll with what’s right for me at the moment, I am able to do attend dance aerobics class – occasionally in a room covered in mirrors, among people I know. And I do Gangnam Style. And I get low. And I look so utterly ridiculous that I will either make you blush or you will totally root for me in my unabashed incompetence. Driving to dance aerobics in my Odyssey? Good for the body, and great for the soul.
I am not concerned with proselytizing. I don’t care who has a minivan. Truly, drive a sedan with eight kids, ride a burro, buy a jet pack. Whatever, man. Live and be happy. I’ve just found people’s need to tell me why my car is not for them utterly fascinating. All I’m saying is that when I drive around in my powder blue behemoth, my butt securely swaddled in that pilot’s chair, my child futilely unable to assault the back of my seat, life is good. So laugh it up, chuckles, and if you get thirsty, I’d love to offer you a sippy cup of water from my Odyssey’s built in cooler. SAHM out.
** I have a friend who has 2 kids, husband, dog, cat, double BOB stroller, and a Prius. But she has no qualms about my van, and she knows that her situation is basically a clown car. And I love her, and you should read her blog, too. http://outofkadesh.com/