My husband and I have decided that we can no longer expect the teenager to cram her hips between the car seats in the back of the very reliable sedan. Our minivan denial must end - we need more seat and cargo capacity.
And yet...this is where the certainty ends because there are just too many options and like picking out our first strollers years ago, the clear winner is likely too expensive, is only available in Europe or hasn't been invented yet. So...we must make lists of pros and cons and compare and contrast and debate the answer to the question at the heart of this research project, which is "What kind of people are we?"
I feel incapable of deciding between a second hand import versus a new domestic and I don't want to think about the ease of stow and go seat features and integrated car seats versus the need for the easy manoeuvering through narrow urban streets that a micro minivan might assist us with. I think Ford's Model T choice of black or black is the right way to go, because the idea that we might actually pick a vehicle and then have to decide on a colour is just too much to handle. And what about handling? Do I really need to consider whether I should test drive a standard transmission just to see whether the pep of this control will overcome the gutless engine on the models we're considering. Should I bother when really I know that I need my shifting hand for tossing food back at the squirming children rather than swerving in and out of traffic.
But, if I need to distract the kids so often, should I seriously be considering a car with the DVD option? Does anyone else out there wonder whether the stupefying effects of dulling the children's senses with the drop down integrated DVD player in souped up minivans is worth the tinge of unease that this reality has given me? Would the fact that I can see Dora the Explorer projected to the back seat and out the rear window from the minivan ahead of me as I drive down the main street in my city make anyone else question how much time we spend in our cars? Am I a horrible mother for not hating this option and/or embracing it? Do other people know for sure whether this makes sense for them?
And please please please do I also have to think about fuel efficiency and gas prices and carbon taxes while "Bike to work" week is debated and the expansion of bike lanes in the downtown is considered? Does anyone else feel sick thinking about new cars while some moms write about their devotion to "green living and biking with five children"? I am reminded that the pedal power I'm considering has nothing to do with my feet unless of course my husband and I are once again discussing whether our relationship could handle the excitement and potential volatility of introducing a car with a clutch that I could ride. I wish I had cycled more than three times in the last twenty years to make a street bike and a double chariot a reasonable mode of transport. Anyone who knows me knows that I could research the latest and greatest on "biking with your children," but that I would never feel fine about huffing and puffing my way up a hill while weaving in and out of traffic and trailing my children behind me unless they had side impact protection and full on body armour to withstand the inevitable crash after I had a stroke from the exertion.
Oh shit, "side impact safety" - I think I need to read up on this too because let's face it, I am not the best driver and I have heard that some of these micro-minivans have better side protection than others although perhaps this comes at the cost of all things described in the mish mash car reviews and manufacturer's specifications for the MINIVAN SPORT ANXIETY MODEL SEPTEMBER 2011 that reads:
"the pinion shaft stability of the cubic foot storage third row of seats with the 6.5 litres of gas per weight sensing air bags of "sorry there is no manufacturer's GPS" on this model that rated worse than last year's model and the new domestic crossover hasn't come to Canada yet but the fold down seats create an uneven cargo space and a need for children who must be able to fold themselves in half like cirque de soleil contortionists to get passed the second row of doors that don't open and the air conditioning only comes on the EX model of luxury leather so you'll need to pay more to pollute and sure you can save money on gas with the micro, but not if you get the cargo kit for the roof, which you'll need if you buy the version without the DVD because you'll never get grandma in the car with the kids and the tent and the gas mileage will go down and highway driving is a bitch, but who cares anyway because all you really do is to and fro in the city of smog and house prices you can't afford because you think Zero percent financing equals a car that's free." From page 54,000 of the confused manual in my mind.
Oh well, it's a good thing that there are reputable car salespeople who can help me out and help me understand the online car reviews and comparisons - thank goodness Jimmy at the lot last week was the guy we got during the hour we had away from the kids so we could test drive some sportyish "can't we keep the mininvan denial going a little bit longer dear" sorry excuse for a minivan crossover polluter. Thank goodness Jimmy had worked on the lot for at least an hour by the time we squeaked in with our dusty car - bursting at the seams with kid backpacks and broken handle bits. Thank goodness Jimmy didn't high pressure sales pitch us, or throw stats and numbers at us -- or heaven forbid, ask us what we needed. Thank goodness Jimmy let my husband pick a small car so that I could select its larger opposite and Jimmy neglected to mention the car in the middle since he hadn't yet learned the names of the cars on his lot, let alone learning about any of the specs yet. Thank goodness indeed - thank goodness as it has given our sedan more time to perfect its imitation of a chirping bird. ( I guess I should get the sedan's brake's checked if this minivan indecision and denial goes on much longer.)
I guess we will have to go it alone and I am sure we'll find our own happy bargain hybrid - a mixture of old with rugged wheels, and a sun shade that doesn't quite zip tight with child safety straps that don't snap right with shock absorption for long trips we won't take because our children scream and writhe while strapped in. Oh wait, that was the bargain stroller we bought when I was pregnant and then like now, my husband and I struggled to agree upon the right choice for the varied people we are and for the varied notions of the people we wanted to be for the life we weren't quite leading with the children we didn't yet have. I guess the difference is that now Kid J will insist upon test driving the car with us before we buy it and my practical husband knows that if the car we get doesn't work out for us, we can't just abandon it at the second hand store as we head out of town.