I honestly didn’t think anyone drove minivans anymore, due to all the SUVs and crossovers I see.
I thought the minivan was dying, if not dead. And I actually blame minivan drivers, because, the minivan is alive and well, and yet, even in 2018, no one actually wants to admit they own one, until you ask.
I don’t get it. Ever since the minivan was practically invented, mothers everywhere seemed embarrassed, and even, sad when they got one.
Tonight I’m going out with a really good friend to catch up over coffee. I always look forward to going out with her, not because she’s seriously awesome, but because she picks me up in her minivan, which makes me happy every time I get in. And she makes me laugh—even though I have a three-car driveway, she always parks on the street. There is plenty of room beside my four-door sedan.
She’s been driving her minivan for years, purchased after her third child was born. But I had no idea that she had bought one until she picked me up years ago. I looked at the three carseats in the same row, and couldn’t help but laugh. That was one organized minivan! It was so large, compared to my car, I joked it was bigger than many of the apartments I had lived in…which isn’t entirely untrue.
I’m not against minivans. I just need a small car. I’m a terrible driver. I’m terrible at parking. And so is my friend, mind you. After years driving her minivan, she still can’t pull into my driveway, for fear she’ll hit my car. She also can’t parallel park, so we have to drive around and around, until we find a spot she can easily pull into. I once asked, “How many cup holders does this thing have? Like sixteen?” And, yes, the answer was approximately sixteen!
I recently read a funny yet poignant article, written by Gregory S. Schneider, called, “Ode to the family minivan, upon its demise,” in the Washington Post.
After Schneider received another late night call from his son that, again, their minivan crapped out, Schneider knew the minivan was on “borrowed time.” He writes, “It has something like 180,000 miles on it, and those are hard miles — family trips with four kids, mad dashes to Grandma’s house through holiday traffic on I-95, teenagers learning to drive…”
No matter how short the drive, in my car, both of my children complain from the backseat, “Can you move the chair up? I can’t move my legs!” My son will yell about his sister hitting him and my daughter will yell that my son hit her.
Sometimes, we can cram a third child in the backseat, but not comfortably. I am never that mother who can carpool more than two children. My children have to share the same row!
When I had a blended family and we had four children, my (now) ex leased an SUV. Still, unless we crammed four kids—one in a carseat—in the the back, and with me in the passenger seat, we still ended up having to take two cars whenever we went out which was ridiculous. But we did it because no one was comfortable.
Then there is the trunk. When my daughter stated playing hockey, we realized that only her hockey bag could fit in the trunk. For the entire winter, I literally drove with a hockey stick beside my face. The stick couldn’t even fit into the length of the backseat. My car, while peppy, is not family friendly. Or least athletic kid-friendly. (Don’t get me started on how we manoeuvre her ski equipment to fit in.)
“I hate that van so much, I don’t even want to look at it,” Schneider writes. To his surprise, his wife and son didn’t respond immediately. “It’s actually been a pretty good car,” his wife said. “Immediately I felt like I’d kicked the dog. They were right,” he says, and goes on to write a eulogy for his minivan. The dents, “are a record of 13 years of swim meets, sleepovers, school meetings and snowstorms. The stains on the carpets are summertime Slurpees…We literally took the brand new van from the dealership to a soccer tournament…the new-car smell lasted less than 24 hours before it was overtaken by mud and sweat…”
“Mommy! I can’t move my legs!” Yes, I’m jealous of minivan owners.
More than any other type of vehicle, it seems people need to get used to the idea of driving a minivan. In this cute story, “One Mom’s confession. I Love My MiniVan,” by Laura Counts, that author says she was shocked when she bought a minivan. And this, I think, is the main problem with minivans, or the people who drive them. Why is it a “confession,” like a dirty secret? I don’t exactly think one’s personality changes when getting a new car.
Count asks, “What the hell had we been thinking? Were we really a minivan family?” (I’m sorry, are you a different kind of family if you drive a minivan as opposed to some other car? I think not!)
She had a change of heart when her children saw it. “The kids stormed outside for their first viewing, giddy as I pushed a button and the doors slid open. ‘It’s like a playroom! With a dance floor!’ our five-year-old erupted… For me, it was time to get a grip.” The only way she could come to terms with driving a minivan was “to stop thinking of it as a minivan.”
Why not just own it? Why is there shame in your minivan game?
And yet in another article, “I love my minivan (& no, I don’t care if it’s uncool)” Alyson Herzog, writes, “I’ve driven a minivan hard for a decade now and I can’t ever go back. Just this week, the kids and I drove 12 hours in my trusted steed and it was delightful…My 11 and 12 year-olds can set up shop in their own rows, spreading out with all their electronics, snacks, blankets and books. Not once on my drive did I hear, ‘He’s touching me!’” I want to ask Herzog who exactly thinks driving a minivan is uncool? I certainly don’t think my friend who drives one is uncool.
Herzog regrets not buying one earlier, but says the minivan has “long gotten a bad rap as an uncool mom car.” “I should have embraced it the moment I became a parent. I can put a 12-pack of half-consumed water bottles in the cup holders, hold a week’s works of cast-off clothes and shoes from the kids…” So why be so embarrassed? It’s just a car! Get over it.
She ends her piece with, “This car is made for families.” Um, yeah.
Schneider ends his pieces with. “All you new parents who moan about what you’re giving up if you buy a minivan? Get real. You have no idea how much you’ll love that thing.”
I really don’t get why people—minivan drivers especially—think it’s so uncool, that they have to ‘confess’ they love their minivans as if it’s a secret and somehow their lives changed drastically upon buying one. I mean it’s a car, not a move across the continent. It’s actually people who drive minivans who give minivans a stigma, not the other way around. For me, a car is just to get from place A to place B.
But I do feel like I’m missing out. I will never take a 12 hour road trip in my car with my kiddos. I can never drive more than two of Rowan’s friends at a time. My kids will always argue, “She touched me first!” I break out in sweat when I have to shove hockey bags and groceries in the trunk.
I’m actually jealous. So minivan owners: Stop confessing that you ‘secretly’ love your minivan, and be proud!
Now can someone tell me where station wagons have gone?
Tagged under: carseat,carpool,minivan,driving,kids hockey gear,arguments,Kids in cars,driving carpool,cars,stigma,teaching driving to teenagers,driving a van,getting rid of the minivan,buying cars,carseats
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