Tag Archives: Minivan

An Early Scare

by Richard

Halloween is all about the scares. Well, the scares and the dressing up. Okay, the scares, the dressing up and the candy. Fine, fine. It’s all about the candy, with some dressing up and some scares thrown in. And a lot of laughs. You know what? Skip it.

I still want to talk about the scares, though.

Here’s the set up. We’ve got three cars and four drivers in the house right now. Sarcasmo takes the cheap, older, safe car we bought for the young dudes to school every day because he also drives a neighbor and a friend of the young dudes to school. Which makes Zippy the Monkey Boy insanely jealous. See, he wants to drive the car as well.

Being the munificent, wonderful father that I am (stop laughing!), I will — on occasion — allow myself to be stranded at home so Zippy the Monkey Boy can drive my car to school. I was going to give him my stylish and very cool minivan (stop laughing!) to drive to school yesterday, but realized I was going to need it to go to an appointment. Then I had a brain flash.

I’d go to my appointment, then drop off the minivan at Zippy the Monkey Boy’s school and run/walk home. I’d get a little exercise and Zippy the Monkey Boy would get to drive a car home by himself. The plan fell through when I realized two things: 1) I didn’t really want to run/walk home and 2) it was raining so I couldn’t run/walk home. So, instead, I decided to drive to Zippy the Monkey Boy’s school, park the car in his parking space and then lay down in the back seat so none of his friends would see me, which would allow my son to drive away like the king of the road he sees himself as.

Which started out great and then got even greater. For me. I parked the car, hunkered down in the back seat, took out a book, started to read and then wait. Eventually, Zippy the Monkey Boy came out to the car. He walked to the driver’s side door, then walked back around the car. He looked right at the back window and I figured he must have seen me. He then walked around to the passenger door and opened it up to put his book bag on the seat.

At which point, he said, disgustedly, “Nice parking job, Dad.”

“What?” I asked from the back seat. “It’s in your space.”

Zippy the Monkey Boy squealed like a little girl, dropped his book bag on ground and stumbled away from the car, falling on his butt. “What? What? What?” he said, sticking his head inside the car.

Apparently, he hadn’t seen me through the rear window and didn’t know I was there.

“That wasn’t funny,” he said.

I tried to agree with him, but I was laughing too hard to talk.

At least he got to drive home. And I got a good, good laugh. Of course, now he’s not talking to me because he assumes it was on purpose. Hmmmm. Maybe that’s an upside as well.

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Secret Weapons

by Richard

I drive around in my minivan (they’re cool) with a magnetic sign advertising the Dude’s Guide. Which means that I (often) get some very strange looks. It also means that I sometimes get into some nice conversations with strangers.

Take the other day, just for instance. I was at the local dump. We had a load of used-up batteries and (really) old paint cans that needed to be properly disposed of. Thus the trip to the dump. The attendent there and I got to talking about raising kids and being good parents, or at least trying to be good parents, and we discovered that we, as parents, have a secret weapon in our Loving War Against Children.

Stupidity. Yes, stupidity is our secret weapon. The enemy (and I use that term only with the greatest fondness) is stupid. And, even better, they think we’re more stupider than they are. Ah, little dudes, you make our lives fun.

See, I thought I was the only dude who, when growing up, really needed to have been given some sort of brain implant or smart injection. Looking back, it’s a miracle my parents didn’t a) give me away to the circus, b)have me shipped off to stupid school, or c) just plain kill me outright. Then I had little dudes of my own and thought I’d just passed down the stupidity gene to them. Talking to this fellow at the dump enlightened me.

We’re not alone.

What I’m talking about is this. Little dudes and dudettes will lie to parents. Everything from standing there with a baseball bat, a ball impregnated with glass shards and a broken vase shattered on the floor and denying they had anything to do with it, to saying the teacher never told them about the massive four-week project that’s due tomorrow.

Why do they do this? Two reasons. Firstly, they’re idiots and can’t think of anything more constructive to do or say. They’re not yet the very definition of grace under pressure. Secondly, and this is the fun part, they assume we parents have the mental acuity of a bag of crushed rocks and will believe anything. Thus, they believe, the simplest evasions are all that are necessary for getting by.

Now, I’m not saying my little dudes are mendacious menaces, nor are yours. They’re just little dudes. And, as kids, they will try to get away with everything. It’s our duty as parents to make sure we catch them in those little inconveniences and show them the right thing to do, in the hopes that they will someday be able to do it on their own.

We need to let them fall on their own, but we don’t have to let them hit the bottom. We catch them, and their little inconsistencies, and set them on the right path. And it helps our side immensely when the stupid gets so painful it burns.

Thus ends the rant.

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The Bane Of The 21st Century

by Richard

After about a decade of service, most of the lives of our little dudes, we decided to get a new car back in 2007. My wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Out Of Her Mind, was insisting on an SUV.

Something about how, being a dude I’d be more comfortable driving one of those. However, being the person primarily responsible for driving our now-not-so-little dudes around, I knew a minivan would provide more room for them so stretch out and not be in each other’s face during long trips. I also had a lot invested in trying to live up to the minivans are cool philosophy I’d been trying to convince other people about.

It’s true. Minivans are cool. (Rinse. Repeat.)

Anyway, while I liked the idea of automatic sliding doors and better gas mileage, the little dudes were most excited about the idea that the new Jonesmobile would have a DVD player installed inside the car. They loved the thought that they could watch TV while riding in the car. For them, that was really the arrival of the future in their lives.

We all remember our own childhood car experiences. Long trips with the family. Sitting in the back seat, no seat belts of course, trying to keep down the greasy hamburger while jerking back and forth on the busted shocks and rusting springs. Trying to move your head in rhythm to the car while keeping track of the words dancing on the page in your lap. Playing car games, counting license plates from Arizona or somewhere else exotic. Good times. Good times.

I also remember getting yelled at a lot by my parents because my sister was such a jerk. What? Well, it’s the way I remember it.

Now, though, we can take long, long drives, trips to anywhere, and have almost absolute quiet as the little dudes sit, strapped into their seats, staring slack jawed at the DVD screen and listening to their headphones. An actual quiet vacation drive. It was kind of creepy for the first couple of times not to have to break up fights every seven minutes. Now we only had to worry every hour and a half or so when they had to decide on the next movie.

It’s all good, yeah? No. Not really.

Because now the little dudes expect to be watching something every time they get in the car. If I let them, they’ll have a movie or Mythbusters DVD running at all times. Take a five-minute trip to the grocery store? They’re watching a movie. Drive to the movie theater? They’re watching a DVD movie in the back seat on the way there.

This constant need to be entertained in the car is getting on my nerve a bit. I barely get to hear a word from them during any car ride. I never thought I’d start to miss the sound of them yelling during a car ride.

So, what about you? Is the advent of the in-car DVD a good thing for you?

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