When the two water bottles finally slipped out of the toddlers’ greasy hands and spilled all over the pale-colored cloth seats sealing in, once and for all, the strong scent of rotting cheese, I decided it was time to write this article. And I am certain many of you will relate to my predicament, or my illness, whatever you call it.
Presenting, “My Clean Car Dilemma."
Like a yo-yo dieter, I find myself vacillating between two extremes: surrendering to the food, filth and fiasco or demanding abstinence from all forms of in-car consumption. There is no happy medium. My poor captives, i.e., children, are in a state of perpetual confusion. One day Mommy prohibits the slightest inquiry into the possibility of in-car eating and, three days later, everyone is feasting recklessly on pizza and ice cream.
I know I’ve lost credibility with this one –in the eyes of hubby and the kids. My rationale is fraught with inconsistencies and it’s gotten way out of control. The truth is that I don’t even know where I stand on the issue anymore. If there is one constant it’s this: my fickle position depends heavily upon the amount of time that has elapsed since the last $45 carwash. This expense occurs about once every six weeks, at the insistence of my husband, guided by his Bloodhound nose. To quiet him down and put an end to his snide remarks, I’ll indulge in a superior interior-exterior carwash.
As my truck emerges with its shiny polished exterior and sudsy fresh-smelling shampooed interior, something inside of me snaps and I shift “mental gears.” That same fateful day, I’ll proudly declare to all “passengers” that the rules have (once again) changed and nobody is allowed to eat or drink inside the vehicle. “Don’t even go there,” I’ll bark, overprotective of my born-again clean SUV. I’ll even keep the cheap paper car mat protectors in place for a solid week as I staunchly recommit to maintaining my Suburban’s pristine condition. Consequently, everyone is down with this for a while and pitches in to keep it spic and span. Then, somehow, unbeknownst to me, the proverbial tides begin to insidiously change and Mommy starts to relax on the “rules.”
…until eventually, they cease to exist.
I have yet to identify precisely what precipitates this change of heart, but once the pendulum swings in the opposite direction, I’m guilty with initiating the whole eat-and drink-in-the-car routine. And suddenly, I find myself relying upon it –for sanity, entertainment and frankly, to buy myself more nonstop errand-running time with kids-in-tow. It usually happens like this: Toddler One whines. Within a nanosecond I question, “Are you hungry?” I don’t wait for answer. “Here,” I order, shoving a granola bar into her chubby hands. “Eat this, you’ll love it!” Moments later, Toddler Two chimes in, “I want one!” Before I know it, I’m proactively offering them bottles of water, grapes, cheese sticks, you name it, and all hell breaks loose. Now, I am shamelessly trashing in the vehicle and recruiting pint-sized accomplices.
It’s as though I wake up and remember that this vehicle is a roving second home. It represents our family’s hectic schedule: where we go, what we do, what we schlep along, eat, drink and incidentally, what food-related accidents occur along the way.
Is it just me or do you agree that the family car somewhat reflects the ebb and flow of your life?
Note to hubby: For illustrative purposes, I am embellishing a bit on my neglect. You know I’m no auto-hoarder and DO diligently dispose of all daily waste –what’s within arm’s reach, that is.
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