Last year, we were packing the car for a family vacation, when the kids expressed concern that they were cramped in the back seat.
By “expressed concern,” I actually mean complained loudly to me while their father was busy packing the trunk as though it were a 5000-piece Ravensburger puzzle.
“I don’t have any room!”
“Get your feet off my side!”
“Mommy! She’s touching me!”
“Do we have to hold the beach chairs in our laps?!”
“I just don’t get the fuss,” I lectured, as we packed the Ford Taurus to the max, shoving duffle bags in-between the three of them. They could barely buckle their seatbelts without giving one another crippling wedgies.
“We’ll be fine,” I said cheerily. “We’ll play the License Plate game. Just like when I was a kid.”
Then we drove a sedan twelve hours to the beach. And back.
I hadn’t even so much as shaken the sand out of the beach towels before I was test driving vans off the nearest car lot.
That is all a distant memory now because of The Van. The Van changed everything.
From the minute we traded in our former ride, we’ve been traveling in style. Nothing squeaks, squeals or leaks. When I drop the kids off at school, I feel like I’m rolling up in a limo—where everyone has space, and no one has to prop their legs up on a cooler from here to North Myrtle Beach. Sometimes, I try to flash the other mommies in nice vans a secret hand symbol, but they seem to think I'm flipping the bird. Again.
The Van is clean. Due to my strongly-worded speech to everyone who enters it, the outside of The Van remains white and shiny, and the inside—oh, the inside—is totally void of the errant French fries and Capri Sun stains that sullied the old car. I found a half-empty Sonic drink in a cup holder the other day and almost had to take a Xanax.
But the piece de resistance of The Van is something I thought I would never, ever succumb to: the DVD player.
That’s right, another screen for the kids to stare at. Yes, we went there. It has been featuring Disney's Frozen on a constant loop for weeks. But what do I care? I also bought 3 wireless headsets.
Say what you want about it, but I’m telling you, on a recent holiday road trip, that DVD player was the only thing keeping me from impaling myself on a mile marker.
But somewhere between Lexington and Nashville, I popped Annie into that DVD player and things got quiet. I glanced in the rearview mirror to find all three kids crammed into the third-row seat, snuggled under the same blanket and watching together.
I guess being packed in tight with your siblings isn’t always such a hard knock life after all.