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Mar 17 2014

Forget the Vacuum Cleaner: 10 Things Moms Actually Need in Minivans

By at 1:42 pm

The Minivan and I have been together for a few months. We’re past the idyllic honeymoon phase, when I was constantly impressed by his self-closing doors and he could do no wrong. We’re at the point in our relationship most easily likened to that moment where you fart in front of your lover for the first time: in short, I have seen that the Minivan is not perfect. And I’m not looking for someone new, but there are things that Minivan could do to step up his game a little bit.

So if you’re reading, good folks at Honda and Toyota, this one’s for you. Add these things to the Minivan and I will be ready to make a commitment, i.e. not just the lease thing we got going on now.

1. Privacy partition.

As a mom of five, let’s forget all of my degrees and resume: I’m a chauffeur, plain and simple. Period. And being a mom chauffeur in 2014 is no longer the job of nonchalance that it was when I was a suburban kid and my mother would honk for me from blocks away. Nowadays, not only I am expected to be at least five minutes early for each and every pick up, but I am also supposed to park in a legal spot, hustle my ass to the doorstep of the activity in question, and meet my child with a manic expression of unmitigated joy.

(Lest you think I’m kidding, the other day, I was literally four minutes late to a pickup. FOUR MINUTES. The adult activity leader sat on a bench with my son, and you know what he said to me? “This class ends at 4:00.” To my credit, I refrained from saying, “Oh, my mistake, sir–I thought it ended at 4:04. I’ll be sure to have Branson bring the car around sooner next time.” What the?)

So I bust my pregnancy-plumped ass all over town at the beck and call of these delightful children, and you know what? For all that effort, at the very least, I deserve a privacy partition–and, with it, a few brief moments of peace and mother-loving quiet without having to scream for it.

As my children complain about who hit whom last Wednesday, or the contents of their lunch boxes (“I wanted RED SAUCE on my tortellini!”), it would give me great, near-orgasmic joy to simply gaze cooly through the rear view mirror, press a button and let that privacy partition between the front and back seats roll its way up to sweet silence. You can make it glass if you want, even though I strongly suggest offering a “titanium” option.

2. Espresso machine.

Car design folks can probably give me a ton of arguments why this is an unworkable proposition: scalding hot liquid in near proximity to the driver of a however-many-thousand-pound-vehicle, yadda yadda. All I can tell you is that if you put a coffee maker in my car, it is going to be used a hell of a lot more than that vacuum cleaner in the back, of which I have yet to break the seal.

3. Retractable slapping arm.

I’m sure you will agree that it is dangerous for the driver of a vehicle to, mid-drive, attempt to slap or pinch a child behind them who is busy slapping or pinching another child. That is why it would be extremely helpful to have a button to press with a retractable arm that could do it for me and would spring into action (with varying degrees of strength, of course) at the touch of a button. It would also be helpful if said arm could perform the Heimlich maneuver, in the event that one of the buying-silence-car-snacks goes awry (need for said snacks would go away with the privacy partition. Just saying.)

4. Purell-dispensing door handles and steering wheel.

Why not?

5. “Look Like A Normal Person” memory chip.

Currently, my seat somehow remembers who I am and slides back into “you’re so freaking short” driving position automatically when I get into the car. Surely it is only one small technological step beyond this to get it to remember how I generally look as well, so the car can alert me when I have spinach in my teeth, or have forgotten to put on a shirt.

6. Sound system filter.

Basically, I need something that makes everything sound like “The Hokey Pokey” in the back of the car, Katy Perry in the middle of the car, and a soothing cello concerto in the front of the car. If this device could also suck up all sounds that resemble shrieks or screams, that would also be good.

7. “I’m busy” cell phone ledge.

My car is now set up via Bluetooth to take voice calls. Technology, however, needs to purge texting from the driving experience. I want a ledge in the front seat console that, when I put the phone in it, programs my phone to automatically respond to incoming texts with, “I’m driving and will read your text when I have arrived safely at my destination.” We’ve sent monkeys into space, so how hard can this be?

8. Car seat installation lights.

When you buy the car, you should be able to program what car seats you will be using and in what seats. The car should then be able to gauge whether the car seats are correctly installed, just like it can tell if you’re wearing your seatbelt in the front row. This isn’t particularly funny, but would be very helpful.

9. Voice note system.

When you realize mid-drive that you’ve forgotten to get diapers and you are one bowel movement away from a “shituation,” you need to be able to press a button and say, “List: diapers.” Then, upon arrival of the supermarket, press another button and the shopping list, in its entirety, goes to your phone. Or a printout, for the technologically-frightened.

10. Child concierge.

The ultimate dream. I can understand if this only makes it to the higher-end vehicles. In my fantasy, I press a button, and an automated voice will guide the children through endless rounds of “Roly Poly,” “I Spy,” and/or “Let it Go.”

Obviously, this is yet again a situation in which the privacy partition will come in handy. The more I think about it, the more I think I might just make my own out of empty diaper boxes and call it a day. Earplugs work too.

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