I got my first minivan in 1994. One of those little Mercury Villager vans. I had two little boys, and it was the sensible thing to do. Those sliding doors made getting kids in and out of carseats so much easier.
Then in 1998, now with three little boys, we moved to a large city, and I got a station wagon. The safety ratings on the wagon were so much higher than the van's, and my husband was much happier at the thought of my driving in city traffic with a little more substance between the kids and the highway.
Those little kids, though, turned out to be big boys. Very big boys. And I learned that very big boys sharing a backseat can make for very tiresome travel. So again I turned to a minivan. I remember when I was shopping for a van--my oldest son entreated, "Get one with a DVD player!" "In your dreams," I replied. I chose the make and model I wanted, a nice big van with four captain's chairs--one for me and one for each boy. Just as I was about to sign the papers to seal the deal, the salesman said, "Oh, by the way, we're having a special promotion. With every new minivan comes a free DVD player." Never before or since has it been so easy to make a kid's dreams come true.
That minivan saw a lot of use. I loved it. A separate seat for every boy ensured argument-free travel (well, mostly argument-free). The DVD player made long trips much easier. I was one of the moms who could transport six kids on a field trip.
My husband, however, hated it. In a word, he loathes minivans. He drove it only on family trips, and then only reluctantly. He was eager for me to get rid of it. I clung to it.
Time passed. My boys got bigger and bigger, but my load got smaller. My oldest went off to college. My middle son got his own driver's license and wanted to drive himself places. So, for the most part, I was down to transporting just my youngest son and myself. Not much need for a seven-passenger vehicle any more.
And so, last summer, the era of the minivan ended. It seemed like a rite of passage somehow. As a young adult I drove a small car. Then I had kids and needed a larger vehicle. The kids grew and I needed an even larger vehicle. Now I'm back to a small car. So cute, so sporty. It's easy to maneuver, easy to park, easy to fill with gas. What's not to like? Except for the fact that it signals that my little ones aren't so little anymore, I mean.
I've shifted gears. I don't need a big vehicle any more.
But would you look at this? Today I made a special trip to Target to buy a long-needed and carefully considered new vacuum cleaner. And guess what won't fit in the trunk of a little car?
Ah, well. At least he kept me company as I drove home.