The following is from a newspaper column I used to write. This was originally published in 1989.
Kids in the car like snakes on a plane – a terrifying combination. With care, the second can be avoided – but the first – if you’re a parent, not so much. They come with the territory. As the parent chiefly responsible for their day-to-day transportation, I primarily use one vehicle and my husband uses another.
My dear spouse avoids the vehicle relegated to me and the kids like the plague. On those rare occasions when he is forced to use my car out of dire necessity, it is obvious he does so under duress. He never openly voices his aversion, but the fact that he wears a ski mask and will drive 30 miles out of his way to detour around places where he might be known leads me to believe he does not want to be seen in my car.
I can’t imagine why. I mean what kind of person would care that the dry dog food bag sprung a leak and doggy kibbles are scattered hither and yon. And who would be bothered by the soil from the potted plants I hauled to landscape our backyard this past summer? And what’s wrong with a few needles from last year’s Christmas tree nestled into the carpet? Anyone should be able to handle this much clutter.
I have the sneaking suspicion it’s the kids. Now that they are back in school after two weeks off, it’s time to reflect on the condition of ‘The Car.’ When I look at its state of being, I’m willing to admit, its mind boggling what three-plus children can do to my only mode of transportation in such a short space of time.
Forget for a moment that the children seem to feel the floor of my car is the only repository for the assorted containers from the fast food chains of America. I have nightmares involving the EPA declaring my car a mobile hazardous waste dump for which I’ll have to run the bureaucratic maze to obtain a license before I’ll be allowed to continue on my way.
The first thing the kids do when they get in the car is to remove their shoes and socks, jackets, sweaters, hats, and gloves. They wear only those items required to keep them from being arrested for indecent exposure. If they’ve been swimming, towels are kicked out of their way. Toys and games are assigned to any available nook or cranny. None of this would be too bad except that children only remove those things from a car which they can carry with their hands tied behind their backs.
The trash and paraphernalia are bothersome and definite eyesores but I have the feeling it’s the chocolate milk shake drying in a line down the back of the seat and oozing into the crevices that really gets to him. Or it could be the french fries smashed against the window or the three week old hamburger elbowed into oblivion and growing some interesting green stuff keeping him at arm’s length. I do my best to remove as much clutter as possible at the end of each day – but the deep cleaning – that happens about as often as moving the refrigerator so I can clean underneath it.
I don't know. Do you think the state of my backseat is why he refuses to let us into his car – ever?