Cleaning out the Car

This past weekend, I found a few minutes (from where I am not sure) to clean out the minivan. We purchased the minivan when our second child was an infant, knowing that we would eventually need the room. Now, nearly 10 years later, as I was picking up crumpled tissues and snack wrappers, my thoughts turned to how much our vehicle has changed over the years.

Our son named it Zippy almost immediately and the minivan is true to its name as it zips us all over town from soccer practices to honor choir to church and back again. Shortly after we got Zippy, our son thought it was really alive because every time he walked up to it, the door automatically opened.  And it also beeped goodbye to him as we walked away.

In those early days, I stacked groceries on top of the resident stroller in the back end. A couple of binkies were always tucked and hidden under the seats waiting like a lost treasure to be discovered.  Fruit snacks hardened to rocks in the heat of the day and a general smell of spit-up lingered in the air.

Zippy carried us to storytimes at the library and playdates in the park. The blanket in the back was great for covering picnic tables and a smattering of books and toys on the ground always provided a challenge to step over.  The music blared Sesame Street and Disney, Laurie Berkner and nursery rhymes. 

As a few years passed and a new baby was added to the mix, Zippy now ran us to school to drop off a new kindergartener. The car still contained a variety of snacks, trash, books and baby toys, but now in addition was an occasional school picture dropped out of a backpack or a jacket left behind in a hurry to shed the air of school.  Storytimes still existed but added to them were soccer practices and scout meetings with soccer field mud and rocks collected at recess added to the cracker crumbs on the floor.

Time passed again and the car became a little neater. With only one staying home to mess up the car, it was easier to keep the wrappers picked up, although a resident family of crayons was ready to greet us every time we opened the van door.  More sporting practices, church classes and scout meetings increased Zippy’s list of duties.  Now groceries were stacked on top of stroller and soccer chairs in the back and the blanket doubled to keep us warm at cool sporting events and to picnic on.  And the music became more sophisticated with Cars and Princess soundtracks.  Still we zipped on.

Now that all three are in school and the stroller in the back has disappeared, the van does seem to keep itself cleaner, although it eats no fewer tanks of gas. Our music has changed to include Taylor Swift, Sound of Music and mom and dad’s cool old music from the 80’s.  Zippy has additional duties with split schools, increased activities and more traffic jams to work through.  My concern is no longer how tightly the carseats are installed but rather do I have enough seats in the car to fit all the carpool kids in.

I can only imagine how the minivan will evolve again to other activities as the kids grow and change. How the minivan’s magic no longer lies in opening doors upon a child’s request but in how many activities it can get the child to on time.

I’d like to think that, although my attempts at cleaning it out over the years have been numerous and somewhat failing, somewhere in there is the first crumb of the first snack that fell on the floor, perhaps a fruit snack buried in an unseen crevice or maybe even a binkie tucked under a seat to make me remember the sweetness of the early years and cherish the beauty of now even more.


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