Van for Sale or Don’t Try this at Home

I always try to make going to school in the mornings an adventure. What better time to bond with your children than when they are strapped in a seat and are a captive audience forced to listen to you? I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that most mornings are a panic; are they at your house? Remember how in the olden days Moms had time to get their kids off to school? My mother always made a breakfast for us, she made sure we had our vitamins and then she sent us off to school secure in the knowledge that she had done her best to ensure that another day was started on the right foot.

These days it’s all about speed and ease of preparation of food, isn’t it?

Breakfasts are from the freezer; they are usually called ‘Breakfast Bites’ or some such thing that is made to sound convenient, yet usually end up tasting like the cardboard they come in. I’m pretty sure that June Cleaver never would have served ‘Breakfast Bites’ to the Bev! After breakfast is inhaled it’s time to drive carpool and all the fun that comes from captivity with your mother.

In fact, I don’t recall there ever being such a thing as “car pool” when I was a kid. You either road the bus if you lived in the country or you walked; some people called that taking ‘shanks mare’. I don’t care what they called it, my mother made me walk. The exercise was good for us and it cured what ailed you. By the time you got to school you were invigorated and ready to learn. Or that was the idea anyway. I didn’t mind, unless it was January, then I complained that it was child abuse.

Do you remember how it was to grow up in Iowa and have to walk everywhere in the dead of winter? You always hoped that you didn’t have a cold, because if you did, your nose would be frozen together by the time you made it to the school. Your thighs would be unfeeling because who had snow pants? I think they were called wet jeans when I was a kid. Mom would take two Wonder Bread wrappers and put them on my feet to keep my socks dry. Usually by the time I got to school the snow would be in squeaking in the Wonder bag. I held in the snow wonderfully well.

I’m of that generation who wants to do better for my kids; they shouldn’t have to suffer the way I did. So I drive them in their Gore-Tex snow pants and fleece lined boots in a car pool, to a school that is less than any distance that I ever walked. Aren’t I a good mother?

A few years ago we had a car pool with a family about .25 miles from here and one morning we got in the van and Will said, “Mom, what’s that black thing rolling on the floor?” We were running late and I was in a less than good humor. I said, “Will, it’s probably a toy, sit back and buckle up.” I started to put the car in reverse when out of the corner of my eye I saw a kamikaze mouse. It was a mouse on a mission mind you, not your slow moving hesitant variety.

Little Mickey was freaked out that we had invaded his space and was hurling his body as fast and as wild as he could around the inside of the van with us. Of course, being the calm, collected person that I am I went, “BLLLLLAAHHHH!” and jumped out of the van screaming bloody murder! It’s each man for himself and damn the kids who are strapped in the van, unable to save themselves!

At this point Will was bawling, Emily was screeching and as she was trapped, strapped in her car seat, Abby was looking quizzically at me like, “Mom, what the heck is the matter with you?” I had no other choice but to get back in the car and take Will to school. So I put it in reverse. Now, let me mention here that this should not be done by another family in the interest of safety, but my kids (one still screaming, the other blubbering hysterically) sat on the backs of their van seats while I went from 0 to 85 mph to the other family’s house.

I drove, twisted like a pretzel, with one foot completely in the air, the other foot jammed on the accelerator. I whipped into their driveway and ended up taking their car the rest of the way to school. Then their retired neighbor came over and tried to help me get the mouse out. At this point Emily and I decided that there were two mice as she swears she saw one bail overboard and the other was hurling itself all over the inside of the van.

After 45 minutes of trying to skewer the darn thing with a yard stick, I played helpless female (well, actually I wasn’t really playing) and called Mike at work to come and help. We finally got the mouse after setting several glue traps in the car for the day. Needless to say, a family pet is not in the near future for us and perhaps coincidently the van is up for sale.

Maybe shanks mare wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

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