My husband and I were discussing the possibility of selling my minivan and getting a newer vehicle when my son, who will be 6 in a couple of weeks, overheard us.
“Are you talking about the van? You’re talking about selling the van? You can’t sell the van. I love that van. Don’t sell the vaaaaaaaaaaan!”
Then he cried for a half hour. Real tears, little bony shoulders shaking, eyebrows raised into a perfect triangle above his eyes, what has become his ultimate expression of concern. I had to promise that we’d take plenty of pictures and a video of the van before we sold it.
Truth be told, I love my van too. I used to make fun of people who drove minivans and thought I was superior to them in all ways. In fact, I pretty much felt like that about people with kids in general, never imagining that I’d be one someday. My husband and I didn’t want kids until the day I changed my mind (then changed his).
The economy collapsed the year my son was born and our personal economy shortly thereafter. 9 months after he was born I was pregnant again and we sold my vehicle for the extra money. I remember my son’s 1st birthday party. I was 11 weeks pregnant and suffering from morning sickness but I worried that I wasn’t feeling sick enough. I’d had a miscarriage before and since I hadn’t reached that imaginary “safe” 12 week mark, I’d pinch my nipples to make sure they hurt (ouch, yup, still pregnant). We had just found out that my husband’s company couldn’t pay him anymore there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I tried to shove it all down as my son shoveled cake in his face with his chubby hand. Life felt like a runaway train.
We weren’t able to get another vehicle until my daughter was a few months old. That little minivan was a gateway to a bigger life. It meant I could take my kids to the park, run errands and take them to the doctor. No, it wasn’t tricked out with latest features but I could be part of the real world again, which if you have 2 kids under the age of 2, is both terrifying and liberating. My biggest fear back then was both kids crying in the mall at the same time. The fact that I couldn’t afford to buy anything at the mall was a small thing in the big picture. I had my van. We had so much compared to others. It was hard to complain.
We’ve tried to cultivate stability in our kids’ lives by keeping them mostly oblivious to the uncertainty we’ve been through these last few years but this year change hit our son hard. We had to remove him from kindergarten a week after it started because we realized we made a huge mistake with the school we chose.
My son is not good with uncertainty and change. He keeps the boxes to every Lego set he’s ever received. He cries when I give away his old clothes. He still reminisces about a broken garbage truck I threw away when he was 2. “Oh, I wish you didn’t throw it away. I need a hug.”
Starting kindergarten the first time was hard enough. It took weeks of preparation for him to settle into the idea. Having to start a totally different school a few days later was gut wrenching for all of us. But, somehow, he found the courage to face it and did an amazing job transitioning and starting new. Maybe he’s been paying attention to the way his parents roll with the punches. Or maybe it was that the new school had chickens. Either way, I’m confident that he’ll get through this latest uncertainty with the van.
“Kiddo, what are you doing?”
“Muah. Muah. I’m kissing the van.”
We can only hope.