Growing up, my parents bought their cars every couple of years. Tank-sized Buicks, Oldsmobiles, Cadillacs. I think we had every shade of blue, always four doors and always with the latest entertainment system, ranging from a CB radio to eight–track tapes to CDs. They never leased cars. In fact, I didn’t even know what it meant to lease a car until I became a grown-up and moved into a home with two little boys. Apparently, leasing a car was the way to go.
Though, I will confess, we had bought our first minivan because we had yet to know the joys of paying yeshiva tuition and we had found a really good deal on the van through some car-buying website. This was also confirmed with the leasing guy who had said, “I never would have been able to get you such a good deal.” Though going back to the leasing for a minute — doesn’t it make more sense to lease a car, because you get a new one every three years and when you buy a car, it usually starts to fall apart every three years and you have to pay to fix it? And how is it that I always need new tires right before my lease ends? Or new windshield wipers? Or new brakes? Anyway, as I was saying…
It seemed that my life started to be lived in three-year intervals, because that was the length of the lease. When we leased the first van it was, “Can you believe that in three years all of our boys will be in elementary school together?” And then three years passed. “Can you believe that in three years we will have a kid in high school?” And then three years passed. “Can you believe that son #1 will be able to drive this van himself???” Yup, and then another three years passed. Carpools to nursery school. Carpools to camp. Carpools to camp to save money on busing. Carpools to the bus stop (were we really that lazy?). Carpools to TBO (Teaneck baseball). Carpools to hockey practice. (One year, I had both goalies in my carpool — they should make a Febreze with that heavenly scent.). Carpools to high school. Carpools to junior varsity hockey practice. Carpools to varsity hockey practice. And then the unbelievable statement, “In three years, we will be finished with carpools and son #3 will be a senior.”
I am sorry, what did you say? Did you say I was going to be finished with carpools? Did you say my baby, the little boy whose foot was as big as my thumb when he was born… Did you say son #3 will be a senior in high school? No, I am sorry. Three years is a very, very long time. That just isn’t possible.
But then the time passed, like time tends to do. Three more years went by. All three of my boys had their drivers licenses, two of my boys had graduated high school, one graduated college, and my adorable little baby, who is now the tallest Ganchrow offspring in family history (and I finally weigh less than he does…for another column) is a senior in high school. So not only is this lease up, but it is the end of the era of the minivan.
No more minivan.
I am pretty sure that it was just yesterday that I took my first minivan for a test drive and I had all the windows open, listening to ’80s music, bawling my eyes out at the official loss of my youth. So now not only has my youth passed me by, but I am officially done with the minivan stage. Finding Cheerios in the most unexplainable places possible. Half-eaten lollypops stuck under the seats. Crumbs, crumbs, and more crumbs. What happened to no one being allowed to eat in the van? Hahahahahahahaha. That never happened, especially when big mama driving the van always has a selection of snacks making a mess all the way up in the front.
And let us not forget the water bottles. The full ones, the half-full ones, the half-empty ones (for those of us not so positive). The empty ones….they are usually everywhere and under everywhere … I guess better water bottles than vodka bottles, but who knows.
The bottom line is that there is no more minivan. There is no more carpool and there is no more going back in time to grab our youth by its neck and pull it back. So what do we do? Wake up, thank God for the gift of being able to do that. Get in our now much smaller car, drive it safely, and hope the next three years will bring only exciting and wonderful things to this next stage of life.
Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck will be writing about her adventures in the Sunshine state next week. She was hoping to do that this week, but the little sister, at the table next to us, did not end up stabbing the bigger sister with her fork. So now I need some other material to work with…