It was 1989 when my parents bought a minivan. I was only 4 but I have the most vivid memory of going to the car dealership with my dad and climbing up into the back of a blue minivan, which we then took home. I thought it was amazing. It was big, it was roomy, and my two older sisters and I could hop in with room to spare for our Brittany spaniel Maggie to come along too.
It was so big in fact, that when I was five and we were going on a family camping trip to Lake Wallowa, I had enough room to stretch out on the back bench seat with my puke bucket on the floor beside me. My two sisters were sitting together on the middle bench playing card games, as I threw up every 30 minutes for the whole 5 hour trip. My parents had asked me if I wanted to cancel the trip but I have never been one to miss an adventure and besides, we had the minivan and I could lay down.
In the end, this is how I remember it: I survived, we made it to Oregon, we camped, fed fruit loops to deer, I wore my Love Boat t-shirt, Linds got kicked by a deer, she dusted herself off and we roasted smores and basically had the time of our lives.
Sometime in the next 25 years I got sucked into the idea that driving a van was reserved for moms who had 8 kids and didn’t go to the mountains or down dirt roads or do all the things I love to do.
Then, the other day I was at the elementary school picking up my two nephews and their friend, with my daughter and niece already in the car, and I was faced with the same conundrum I face everyday at 3:30pm…..my awesome SUV that I bought to take me to the mountains and down dirt roads doesn’t fit me and Isla and McKayla and Tristen and Chase and the other Chase and Tanner the puppy in the car very well. We always end up squishing the 13 year old man-sized boy and the smaller 10 year old in the front seat, while my other nephew squeezes in between two car seats in the back with a dog on his lap. We look ridiculous.
It’s at that exact moment everyday when I realize that there is probably a secret club of minivan owners that are laughing at me with my 18 kids packed in a truck, and that they feel embarrassed for me. They have known all along that minivans come in 4-wheel drive and can take you to the mountians and down dirt roads and that sometimes, they even have a little fold out table where your kids can happily eat Cheetos while they watch the mini tv on the back of their mom’s headrest.
Like a lot of my life lessons, this story ends like this: once again my parents knew best…..even back in 1989.