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Riding in Cars with Toys

Riding in Cars with Toys - Learning to Love the Minivan

by Faith Resnick-Foyil

I was 23 when I purchased my first new car, a four-door, icy-blue, Pontiac Sunbird with fabric-lined bucket seats, and an AM/FM stereo cassette player. Sweating profusely while negotiating the price, I panicked even more when presented the final paperwork. My signature not only indicated that I would own a brand new vehicle, (after 24 or so car payments) it reaffirmed my toddling steps into adulthood — First Real Job, First Steady Boyfriend (o.k., second), and now, First New Car.

Many years later, vehicle number seven is a sturdy Honda SUV in which I take my two sons back and forth to school each day, chauffeuring their friends and them as needed for field trips, play dates and sports practices. My 11-year-old often brings new CDs for me to sample, introducing me to groups like Flashlight Brown and Bowling for Soup, bands I certainly wouldn't otherwise hear. We maturely discuss tunes for a minute or so and then the two boys naturally revert to hyperbolic tales of playground valor. Many an argument ensues when one of us is tired and grumpy or just because it's Monday, or Tuesday or time for a piano lesson.

My weekly passengers almost inevitably include muddy-footed kids with sticky fingerprints, leaking lunch boxes, flimsy party favor goodie bags that somehow just HAVE to get opened in the car despite mom's protesting, wet beach towels, stinky sneakers and socks as well as cookie crumbs that I can't seem to avoid especially when rushing to the dentist after school and the kids are starved. I also confess to some illegal stowaways.

Cockroach clubs gather nightly in my driveway, gleefully rubbing their greedy little antennae together, plotting future assaults. To my knowledge, there's only been one successful cockroach breaking and entering. He was stiff-legged when I found him on the floor of the back seat, but, judging by the McDonalds' French Fry nearby, he died a sated little bugger, err bug.

My car has seen the occasional annoying mosquitoes and flies, a silky spider web or two and a swarming bee that mistook the steering wheel for a honey comb. Another intruder was a frog which we thankfully spotted while loading up the car and not in the middle of a drive down the road. Most of all there are toys.