Resisting the Minivan

12 Aug

I’ve reached the point in my life that comes to any mom with multiple children. I always thought it would be a few more years before this milestone. But here I find myself, at the tender age of 27, weighing the pros and cons of…the minivan.

Yes, the dreaded minivan. The oversized behemoth that has more power over it’s owner’s identity than any car except perhaps the red convertible sports car driven by a man with a receding hairline. Along with power-steering and automatic sidedoors, the minivan comes standard with the ability to completely wipe out any trace of it’s owner’s previous identity. Not a smidge of hip, with-it-ness left. It brings with it the compulsion to decorate the back window with stick figure decals representing your family members, dog included.

But Melissa, you say, your coolness will overcome the minivan image. You’re way to hip and with-it to be overshadowed by what you drive. My friends, this is true. However, I fear I’m slowly succumbing to full assimilation into momminess. Imagine, if you will, an unshowered young woman sitting on the floor in her pajamas typing on a laptop. On her back hangs a 2.5 year old, also in pajamas, making monkey noises. On the television, cartoon mice do the “hot dog dance.” Nearby lays a chubby baby girl, folded virtually in half as she gnaws on her toes. Next to her in a bouncy chair sits a naked baby boy, who turns and smiles as spit up dribbles down his chin. When she finally gets everyone dressed and cleaned up and prepares to go out into the world, what do you picture her loading her drooling minions into? That’s right, a minivan.

Patrick has been pushing the minivan since the twins were born, so much so that I was starting to think he was getting a kickback. After months of resisting though, I think I’ve finally won him over to the merits of crossover SUVs. They’re pricier but can one really put a price on not crying every time you open the garage and see your car? There is validity to the argument that if you’re going to spend a large sum of money on something that’s going to be with you for the long haul, you should at least like it, right?

I have a personal relationship with my vehicles. I’ll never forget my first. Tall, white, splattered with mud from crazy-driving along the Rio Grande. His name was Axel and he wasn’t just any Jeep Wrangler. He was MY Jeep Wrangler. Like the Lone Ranger’s Silver, Axel was my trusty steed. Together we galloped all over the Valley, windows unzipped. He was the perfect beach car. He burst into flames twice while I had him, once melting the smiley face headlight covers that had only been on a day, he was way too rock n’roll for them. On his dash was a bobblehead PeeWee Herman. I hear he’s still being driven around McAllen by his new owner. If I ever saw him again, I’d cry. I loved my Axel.

From Axel until present day, I’ve been driving Basil, my silver Isuzu Rodeo. Basil is my habitat, my home on wheels. Others may look in him and see a mess of random objects. To me though, he holds my music, emergency snacks, random clothes than may come in handy someday, discarded toys, receipts, straws, and more Burt’s Bees chapstick and hair snaps that one can shake a stick at. I could be stranded in a snowstorm with Basil and be well-fed, clothed, entertained, and gorgeous. He’s my buddy. On his dash is a bobblehead pig with wings that I found in at Spittlefields Markey in London. Basil isn’t super strong though, and is a Texan at heart, not doing too well in the snow. His low safety rating is part of the reason he’ll be leaving us sometime in the future.

These loyal friends are a part of me. Can you really see them followed up with a minivan? Me neither. The only thing I’ll ever own with the word “mini” in it will be the Mini-Cooper I will reward myself with in twenty years for surviving motherhood. In the meantime, I need to find just the right addition to my short but wonderful car heritage.

I will admit though, while doing my research, I’ve enjoyed Toyota’s new campaign to win the hearts and minds of young hip and with-it people like me through their witty YouTube minivan push. My favorite moment comes when the dad describes his kids:

“Don’t get me wrong, my kids are my best friends. But they’re like best friends that bum rides off of you, crash at your place, drink all your milk and mess with your stereo.”

Well said, hipster dad. Well said.

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18 Responses to “Resisting the Minivan”

  1. Jillian August 12, 2010 at 3:54 pm #

    I have to admit, I cried when we finally bought a mini-van, but we just couldn’t shove that 3rd car seat into the back of our Escort, no matter how purple it was. But now, I’ve fallen in love with my stow n’go seating, knowing that I’ve got entire boxes of granola bars and bottled water hidden under the floors, just waiting for my children to scream. Now, I dare them to challenge my preparedness. HA!

  2. Kirsten Christensen August 12, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    Hey Melissa — gotta say I was swayed toward minivan-dom on a recent vacation. We borrowed three of my nephews and rented a minivan to head to a lake for a few days. Amazing how cramped I didn’t feel the whole time, in spite of the fact that I was surrounded by 6 men who had been away from showers for varying lengths of time.

    Sliding remote-control doors seem like a feature that would be extremely friendly to a mom with babes in arms. All I had were groceries and dirty swimming suits in arms, but I still loved being able to have full hands and still push one little button and have the doors open. Don’t think you can do that with an SUV, can you? And roll-down windows (not just push-out, like on the van I grew up with) are a nice feature that is now probably standard and took someone way too long to figure out.

    Crossover SUVs are pretty great, too. We rented one of them once and dug it. Just not sure I’d want to live without remote-control sliding doors once I’d had them… But have fun deciding!

  3. Janelle August 12, 2010 at 8:55 pm #

    Ooooh, Melissa. I’m so so SO glad you and I are on the same page. A van is so practical, but so uncool. I always feel like a snob saying that, but it’s true. Best of luck.

  4. Liz August 12, 2010 at 9:58 pm #

    RESIST! RESIST! I feel the same way, and I need people on my side. I am terrified of minivans. I often think that they should be sold with a lifetime supply of Prozac so that you can cope with the fact that you’re driving A MINIVAN.

    Crossover SUVs are where its at. And I often found myself staring longingly at the Smiths’ Pilot and dreaming of frolicking through a meadow with it. Ahhhh a Pilot. Sigh.

  5. Mom August 12, 2010 at 11:28 pm #

    Stand your ground Patrick.

  6. Melissa August 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm #

    Traitor.

  7. Grandma LeAnn August 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Does a minivan or crossover SUV HAVE to come with sliding remote control doors? I am still quivering over Finn opening the door by his carseat while Patrick was driving back from Ogden on the freeway. Imagine what that Lover of All Buttons could do with a sliding remote control door button.

  8. Mom August 13, 2010 at 5:29 pm #

    I see these vans picking up carpools at my school all the time. Don’t those doors have child locks controlled by the driver? I took a poll today on minivans over suvs. Minivan people LOVED theirs, SUV people said their disadvantage was not being able to walk around inside as they buckled kids in/out. Toyota Sienna seemed to be the van of choice.

  9. kelly August 13, 2010 at 9:55 pm #

    As you know I have a minivan. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Love that we have elbow room but hate that it screams MOM!!! I often covet other people’s SUVs. Love the Ford Edge, but not enough room for my feisty kids. After having to drive a Jeep Commander for two weeks I can now say I’m a little happier with my van.
    When we were out shopping for something bigger, Kade was only a thought at the time, we went back and forth between the Pilot and the Odyssey. The Odyssey won only because we didn’t like that the first bench had to fold down to get to the back. We were soon going to have three kids in car seats so that would have been a nightmare. And that’s exactly what it was like with the Jeep. Now if the Pilot came with captain’s chairs like the Odyssey I would buy one in a minute.
    The sliding doors don’t open when the van is in drive. There is also a child lock controlled by the driver. No worries about Finn. Plus he’s more interested in the TV so he’s not even looking at the door.
    I’ll be interested in what you decide to get.

  10. Robann August 15, 2010 at 1:52 pm #

    I can’t tell you how much we love our minivan. (Chrysler T&C) I never expected to even like it when Dan insisted I go check it out. Plus our kid was nearly a teenager! But face it, kids of any age haul a lot of stuff with them. I was hard pressed to find one thing I did not like. It was the seats that sold us. These seats don’t make our backs ache, even after hours of traveling, like to Mayo Clinic and back a few times. Amazing. And the room, room, room, and if you get the bigger engine, plenty of zoom, too. I do feel much more humble driving it than I did driving the Tahoe (afraid I may have been a tad aggressive in that); less liability too since you don’t hear of minivans demolishing the vehicles they meet by accident nearly as much as SUVs. And hey, good dark window tint always boosts the cool factor. I think a minivan is a sign of wisdom.

  11. Jo August 17, 2010 at 12:42 am #

    Resistence is futile. You will be assimilated.

    I gave it up and got a Toyota Sienna. Great travelin’ car. It helps to have been 44 when your kids were born — all my hip had already drained right out of me before they came. Another older mom friend of mine also got her Sienna around the same time I did – she referred to it as her “kid-life crisis”.

  12. mom August 17, 2010 at 11:18 am #

    D’NILE… What can you say? The minivan issue isn’t about you,(well sorta) but the kids. SO, do LIKE YOUR MOM DID, go look at all the COOL minivans, pick one out you kinda like. Then tell
    Patrick you’ll finalize the deal tomarrow. Imagine his surprise when you get home with not the minivan you both had checked out…. but with the ultra loaded showroom model!!!
    DaD

  13. DaD August 17, 2010 at 11:20 am #

    Hummnn,… mom musta been using my laptop. ABOVE POST WAS DaD

  14. Lisa Adams August 28, 2010 at 12:45 am #

    From a mother with twins, believe me when I say get the minivan! The power sliding doors is not an option, its a MUST! We are now on our 2nd minivan and I LOVE IT! We had the Dodge Grand Caravan now and its loaded with features – the best now is the remote power rear hatch door. It is AWESOME! Vans are great, and so much easier with the kids. Vans are COOL!

  15. Melissa August 28, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    okay, waaay too many cool people are posting in support of the minivan. did Patrick get to you?

    I don’t get the power doors that everyone raves about, please tell me more. Are they really necessary? I can open a door just fine with my hands, it’s not that hard. What am I missing?

    • Robann August 29, 2010 at 10:04 am #

      I thought the power sliding doors were overkill, I am a big, tough girl. But after using them I felt so spoiled. They rock! Poke the button and the van is open and ready for anything. Plus when you are back home and your arms are way too full of heavy (squirmy and adorable) stuff it is so nice to poke a button and the door closes. And they won’t close on stuff or body parts. Plus there is a handy switch that disables them unless you want them to open/close. Yes, total control over one aspect of life, ya gotta love that.

    • Jillian August 29, 2010 at 2:48 pm #

      We didn’t spring for the power doors (I guess we’re cheap), but LOVE our Grand Caravan. I think for me, it’s the space, and the in-floor storage. Plus, I’m with your mom on the being able to walk to the back of the van and take care of the other kids, especially where all of ours are 6 & under. I’d buy another in a heartbeat.

  16. Jake Corry September 11, 2010 at 2:13 pm #

    I love this post. Seriously this was very enjoyable to read. I cried the day we bought our minivan and then when we got our Yukon I cried again. Sometimes I still cry when I open the garage and realize how happy I am to not be driving a minivan anymore.

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