My parents had four kids. Although I have a few vague memories from the angular backseat of a navy Volvo sedan, the mode of transportation for almost the entirety of my childhood was a minivan.
There was the dark blue Chrysler, which we affectionately dubbed, “The Bluenose.” Then there was the upgraded Town & Country, with wood panel sides and state of the art sound (perfect for two teenage girls learning to drive and blasting ‘Bootylicious’ on the way to basketball practice). It endured more than a little wear and tear. Eventually, at certain speeds, its sliding doors would open unprovoked, negating any safety features that typically entice people to purchase passenger vans in the first place.
Then my parents made what was one of their proudest purchases, a brand spanking new Honda Odyssey with all the bells and whistles. It had power sliding doors! You have to understand, in the early 2000s, in my small hometown, power sliding doors were a thing of sorcery. My siblings and I drove that pretty gold van into the ground (literary, at one point), until it had well over 300,000 kms on it and would only drive in reverse. When my parents finally sent their youngest child off to university, they downsized. But for decades, we were a van family.
So it may surprise you to learn that I hate vans. I never wanted a van. Yes, safety, Yes, room. Yes, convenience. Blah, blah, blah. To me, family vehicles do not have to begin and end with minivans. Even back in the day, my cousins, who were also a family of six, drove around in a massive, mafia-esque black and chrome SUV. They were the COOLEST. I would never get a van. Nope. Nope. Nope.
This sentiment stuck with me well into parenthood, when we were searching for a new family vehicle to accommodate baby #3. We didn’t even test drive one van. SUVs, please. We ended up buying a bulky seven-seater and I was a happy camper. (Tow package included!) We may have comprised on year and mileage to get the model and trim we wanted within our budget, but that’s ok. We didn’t get a lemon.
We got a lemon. Well, it could have been much worse, but after only two years and a ridiculously low amount of kilometers, we have reached a crossroads: put more money (a lot more money) into our aging seven-seater or cut our losses and trade it in. I reluctantly admitted to myself that I don’t want another big SUV, thus a familiar question has once again raised its ugly, uncool head. Should we get a minivan?
This time, my husband wanted to at least test-drive one. As much as I’d like to deny their appeal, I knew that once my husband got behind the wheel of a minivan, he’d be lulled by its features, convenience and (ugh) drivability.
I desperately tried to distract him in the parking lot of another dealership. Look! A zippy five-seater! It’s perfect! Trust me! We just need to spend $1200 on aerodynamic space-engineered car seats and no one can exhale while the vehicle is in motion! We can literally make this happen! (My husband has learned that when I invoke, “Literally!” in any argument, I’ve lost all ground.)
There at the dealership, I jammed our three car seats in the back row of a small SUV to the point that they were unsafe, and unsuccessfully attempted to shut the doors. I then slowly, sadly arrived at the same conclusion my husband had reached weeks ago: We need a van.
So that’s where we are. Researching, test-driving, adjusting our life-long identities. I’ll let you know how it goes.
*Update: We got a van.