For sale: vintage church bulletins

By Mir
April 20, 2006

I used to be the kind of person who turned her nose up when a car was dirty or cluttered on the inside. Cars are not for accumulating fast food cups! Cars are sanctuaries! They should be clean and orderly and people should be able to get in and sit down without having to move a pile of trash to do so!

And then I had children. They, apparently, exploded in my car.

I’ve discussed before how my kids are weird little trash factories. Why does it still amaze me, the sheer volume of STUFF they leave in their wake?

On Saturday morning I will load up the car with snacks and books and games and toys and CDs and anything else I can cram in there that might distract from the inevitable “are we there yet?”s and drive for about seven hours from Here to There. Here, it will be Spring Break. There, it will be All Grandparents, All The Time.

In order to fit the proper accoutrements into the car, the car needs to be emptied of the accumulated crap.

Also, although I cannot find my way back to my hometown (where I lived for sixteen years) without printing out directions (every single time) (shut up) because I appear to possess powers of observation rivalling those of your average fruit fly, I am incapable of taking a road trip in a cluttered car. It would be wrong.

[I also cannot leave on vacation without changing sheets and making beds, first. There are vacation preparation RULES, people. I don’t make them, I just have to follow them or my brain will melt.]

So, this afternoon I cleaned out my car.

First, the cargo area. Hmmm. Folding chairs that I bought at Target on clearance about six months ago and never removed from the car. Not really anticipating needing those; they can stay in the garage. Large tote bag containing our ice skates. Hmmmm, I guess now that it’s April I can probably take those out as well. Two crumpled-up towels. No idea. Out they go.

Next I did the front seats. I scooped up a pile of stuff from the passenger seat and just dumped it inside. Most of it was probably garbage, but I suspected there was some mail in there I needed and I resolved to go through the pile later. (This means that I will leave the pile in the mudroom for several months and eventually throw the entire thing out without ever going through it.) I took the snow scraper out and left it in the garage, and rolled up my umbrella and stuck it in the door storage pouch.

I took a deep breath and headed into the backseat. Toys. Papers. Church bulletins with children’s activity sheets. (Unscramble John 3:16! Which disciple is not like the others? Color in the burning bush!) Candy wrappers. A sock. (Just one.) Napkins. Books. Crayons. Pens. Rocks. Pinecones. Acorns. Unidentified plastic objects. Straw wrappers. Pennies. Something that might have been an ossified pop-tart. It was like dumpster diving. Only IN MY CAR. I kept pulling stuff out–ON the seat, UNDER the carseats, off the floor–and more kept appearing. Finally, I thought I was done, and then as I was readjusting the floormats I found still more piles buried under the front seats. It was horrifying.

After removing a metric ton of junk from my poor car, I lugged my vacuum outside and sucked up all the dirt and dust. Then I topped off the windshield wiper fluid and wiped down all of the plastic and fake leather surfaces inside the car.

It’s SO CLEAN in there now. I’m going to make the kids sit on the roof rack on the way to school tomorrow. I want to maintain the illusion of the car being orderly for just a little bit longer.

Also, basking in the glow of my freshly tidied car will distract me from the fact that I’ve decided to drive seven hours, outnumbered by children, with no DVD player. Oh! Look over there! Something SHINY!


  1. Mom

    You took OUT your snow scraper and left it in the garage? You are looking for trouble there, toying with the snow Gods when it’s not even May yet. Sorry – _someone_ had to say it. And, oh – something else that someone had to say? We canardly [what? You never heard that word before?] wait until you get here so we can eat you all up. Have a safe trip, my sweet. :)

    Much love,
    Mom, the faerie grandmother

  2. shannon

    Man, nothing is better than a clean car right before you head out of town (be safe and have a blast). Those Foresters have so many nooks and far more crannies than I think should be allowed. ;)

  3. Carol

    See, that’s just the thing — 7 hour drive with 2 children, no DVD player — I’m guessing that if you’re anything like me, that about 30 minutes into the ride you won’t care what they do back there so long as they just.stop.complaining!

  4. Nic

    You know, FedEx has some decent rates- you could just mail ’em to the G.P.s. Then you have a lovely drive by your self in the shiny clean car.

  5. Cityslicker mom

    And don’t you feel so good now?? I can totally relate to this, I felt exactly the way you did until I had kids and now our car sounds a lot like yours. We find all kinds of stuff in between car seats and cushions and stuff. But once it gets cleaned, I feel like my head is a little bit clearer.

  6. Cele

    Oh I am so with your mom, you are tempting the fates on this one Mir. TEMPTING.

    Ha ha your mom doesn’t think we speak English, even I canardly – in fact I canardly all the time.

    My daughter’s car sounds like yours, she drives longer distances than I ever did. You must too. I haven’t lived more than 3 miles from work in 30 years, my car is neat. My husband drives 160 a day, you can tell he lives in his car. My daughter, see your above description. Hey, wait you work at home.

  7. karen

    Months after our last road trip I could smell something funny. Kind of orangey but with an unpleasant twist. I searched the car on hands and knees trying sniff it out. Finally I stuck my hand down the back pocket of the driver’s seat. Anyway I found the mystery smell. It was a satsuma. It was mouldy. It was stuck to my hand. Now I canardly look at citrus fruits without my hand going into a weird ‘shake it off’ dance.

  8. Crazedmomof4

    I feel the same way about my car & kids. We also have a van & that is only more room to make a mess & hide things that will make Mom’s head explode. I will be totally stessed until I get it cleaned out & as I’m cleaning I have major fits of anger. I never understand the one sock thing or one shoe thing which also happens in our van. How can they get from the van to the house without me noticing that?! I love the part where I get to use the shop vac, strange I am, but I enjoy seeing all that junk get socked up! Then I too, think they, the little monsters, should ride on top of the car. The little nasty, dirty, monsters. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks that. But I have found that when you joke about things like that, you’ll then see in the news that some parent actualy tried that! Not cool! I aways joked about my 9yr. Taz being kept in a cage, then it’s all over the news that some parents kept their kids really in cages. I joked about putting the kids in the trunk when fighting. Then some kids wanted to ride in the trunk & their Mom thought it would be alright & let them.

  9. Bob

    Send me your map and I’ll alert the state police to be on the lookout. Just in case.

    I can’t not say it – A MAP TO GET HOME? You’ve been making this trip for (just) over half your life and you still need a map? I canardly believe it.

  10. Heather

    I was just talking to my son about this subject this morning before he got on the school bus. My vehicle (I drive a rendezvous – I don’t know what it is, it really isn’t a SUV, car or truck)is a mess. I told him that since it was suppose to be kinda nice this weekend where we live, he was going to help me clean it all out. But, no, apparently this is my job! When did all this happen?

  11. Shanna

    Thank you for putting it in writing that I am not the only one who has to have the house in order before leaving on vacation. This drives my husband and son crazy that I have to have the beds made with clean sheets before we leave. Thank you!

  12. Aleza

    You see, I bought a smaller car PRECISELY to avoid the miraculous vehicular junk that accumulates. And the something shiny? Probably a discarded bottle cap, glinting at you from the floormat…

  13. Alexa

    That last comment was from me. I spelled my OWN NAME wrong.

  14. kelly

    I’ll bet you get better gas mileage on this trip!

    When we traded in our last car, we lifted up the back seat and found every single thing that Tyler has been moaning about being missing for four years. This stuff filled four boxes. Mind boggling how a T-Rex it made its way through that tight crack that we could never wiggle the middle seatbelt out of.

    Have a great trip!

  15. Shash

    Mir, grab an audiobook of Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket from your local library and have that in the car for your trip. (Actually, a few of them might be better) They have them, they’re free, and usually they have the unabridged versions, which is 5 to 6 hours long. We have found those help quite a bit in our non-DVD playing vehicle.

    If you library has an online catalog, you can search for books from your computer, reserve them, and pick them up.

    Have fun, and I’m jealous of your clean vehicle. I’m delaying the inevitable here. I should probably do something before the detrius starts taking over.

    Have a safe trip! We’ll miss you!


  16. Aimee

    Ooh…roadtrip. Have fun! I second the idea about the audio books. If you have time, why not try it?

  17. Stephanie Chance

    You HAVE to have your beds made before you go on a trip. If the house were to catch fire, the fire fighters would think you were a complete, well, um, slob. Nevermind the three weeks worth of laundry piled on the floor whose accumulated heat probably started the fire in the first place. Look. Over there. Something shiny (because it’s clean).
    I’ve had five pounds of rocks in the floorboard of the passenger seat for two months. I don’t know what the kids’ fascination with them are, but they like to wash them and collect them, and if I touch them they will be upset. I tell passengers that I like to throw them at unsuspecting pedestrians. Is there such a thing as a ‘suspecting pedestrian’? Someone who just KNOWS that he’s going to get hit with a rock thrown from a passing car? Hrmm…

  18. Theresa

    WHAT? No pictures? ;)

    Making them sit on the roof rack was a brilliant idea!

  19. ben

    Something shiny? Why yes, it’s MY CAR.

    Have you threatened the children with bodily harm if they toss any candy wrappers down during the trip?

    What I hate is the day after I clean out the car and toss a pile of unrecognized “stuff,” somebody will come and yell at me.

    “Where’s my plastic piece?”

    “Your what?”

    “It was a plastic piece. I had it in your car. Now it’s gone.”

    “What did it look like?”

    “It was plastic. And sorta small. It was black. Or blue. Maybe yellow. But it was MINE.”


  20. Steff

    My house must be clean, beds made and all laundry done or I cannot leave for vacation. The burglars might think we are filthy slobs.

    I agree with Gma put the snow scraper back in…

    Kids in car w/o DVD player = torture!

    Have fun!

  21. The Other Leanne

    1. Dear girl, you DO make the rules.
    2. I canardly believe you’ve only had this car a short while and it’s already accumulated so much STUFF.
    3. Don’t look in my car. I’ve been using it as portable storage for furniture and household appliances for the last month, AND that half-eaten bagel is still in the cupholder slowly petrifying.

  22. Niihaus

    You must drug the children with something, you know, FDA approved…like Dramamine or Nyquil! ;-)

    Have a safe drive!

  23. Beverlee

    When I’m in a good place, the accumulation of “stuff” in our EXTENDED VAN feels like a representation of our life as it evolves – hairbands, cd’s, flyers for our businesses, stuff Hub sold on ebay and has to mail, sports equipment, etc. It feels sort of home-y and loved.
    When I am in an uptight place however, watch out! “I want all this stuff out of here, NOW!” My son is always in this space – Hub and daughter? Never. The battle continues …

  24. Heather Cook

    Recently I was in a car accident. As the firefighters crawled into my car from two different doors to nudge me ever so gently on to a spinal board, the only things I said were “I’m sorry it’s so messy, sorry, please ignore the mess … I’m really busy.. I don’t have much time to clean it. Sorry about that. Please continue. No need to look at the garbage on the floor.”

    And now that the car has been written off and I have a new vehicle, I am trying so hard to keep it *brand*new*car*clean*.

    And I only have one child. Now.

  25. stephanie

    might i suggest a gameboy for the car trip, along with a multitude of books. i usually let the boysies pack their backpacks of stuff they want for the ride in our 1994 non-dvd volvo wagon. the only requirement is that they be able to carry it themselves.

    oh, and those damn waterbottles are like rabbits… i swear they’re multiplying at night.

  26. ozma

    You are a brave woman. Melissa at Suburban Bliss linked to someone who argues that DVD players are the spawn of Satan and those parents who allow their children to have them are clearly utterly uninterested in said children’s well being. Nor do they want to talk to them. Ever. This right after my daughter got one of these as a gift. We’d asked for it. For exactly the 7 hour car ride. And now she is hooked on it and the movies and can turn it on by herself and we realize that we have fallen into Satan’s trap. So good for you! Allow them to be bored even though all attempts to distract them will be futile. It’s clearly better for their little souls and I wish I’d thought of this before it was too late.

  27. Amy-GO

    NO DVD PLAYER? Good Lord, woman, I would’ve sent you mine. Good luck to you. Hope you have a wonderful visit with your family, though! At least the G’parents can take ’em off your hands while you’re there. :)

  28. Dana

    Can you clean my car now? My 19-month old has jelly beans, matchbox cars and other miscellaneous objects strategically hidden so the Shop-
    Vac will suck it up later…C’est la vie! =)

  29. mom101

    I’m ashamed to admit my car sounded like this before I had children. Add six pounds of bulldog hair to the mix, plus dog slobber on the inside passenger window and you’re singing my tune. Maybe a carwash is on the docket for tomorrow after all…

  30. Shiz

    I’m glad you made it! Whew!

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