The family car: Flashy or functional?

My son, sweet dear child that he is (see how I said something nice first?) is not a happy car rider. For the first six months of his life, he screamed himself into hysterics every time he caught sight of his car seat…within 5 minutes of most car rides we had pulled over to nurse and soothe our frayed nerves. A change of car seats has helped tremendously, but he still has his moments. He is very specific about what music I play for him while we drive, and since I made a deal with God during one of his screaming fits many months back to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to keep him from crying in the car, I have learned to love the Hebrew version of the Sesame Street theme (don’t ask).

However, some days, no matter what I say, no matter what tunes I grind my teeth and play for him, he just isn’t having it. During one of those days recently I found myself saying aloud to him, “Well I’m so sorry little sir…Mama doesn’t have one of those fancy cars with the TVs in the headrests, so you’ll have to settle for the lovely scenery of the Kennedy at noon”.

Now a few points here…1) Yes, I do talk to my 19 month old like he’s a surly adolescent. Let’s remember my previous post about being judgemental and just say that the kid had it coming. 2) I’m not sure if the speech about our car’s lack of amenities was more for him or for me. Although I don’t like to think of myself as materialistic, it’s hard not to notice that I have the oldest car in the Gymboree parking lot.

I know the reasons we haven’t upgraded to the SAHM SUV yet: we have 2 cars that are paid off, no car notes and low insurance rates. Also, with one salary, 2 sets of student loans and a schedule full of toddler classes to pay for, a new car just hasn’t ranked as important. But I can’t help but glance around during out midday grocery run, when the parking lot is full of moms and kids grabbing overpriced produce, and think, “wow, my car is a POS”.

I’m not going to turn this into a “count your blessings” speech, or a rant about what a first world issue it is to even have the luxury of comparing cars, we all know these things.

What I will say is that I need to perfect my speech about why we can’t always buy the things we want before my son is old enough to start asking for things – for his sake and mine. It’s easy to pull out a “Because I said so” when you haven’t actually thought about the real reason. I imagine part of the reason the incessant asking for things can be so irksome is that it arouses some negative nagging in the back of our minds when the answer isn’t that Iwon’t buy it, but that I can’t. As part of my efforts to be honest with my little guy whenever it won’t scar him for life, I want to be ready to explain the difference between the things he doesn’t really need and the things he may want, but cannot have at that moment.

In the meantime, however, before our next family road trip, I’m going to invest in one of those DVD players I can strap to out headrest in the car…not because I want it, but because if we are all going to live through those 6 hours, we’re gonna need it.

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