Conversations In A Minivan

BoysCar One of the best parts of my week is driving my oldest son and his best friend to their karate practice. Not the driving part. Driving sucks, especially driving a minivan. The part I love is being in this small space with two teenage boys, no eye contact possible, and hearing what (if anything) they have to say.

Sometimes it’s just a random comment about school or the idiot driver in front of us. Sometimes there’s real news to share, like his sister was accepted into the college of her choice. Mazal Tov! and how does he feel about her being gone next year, he’ll be the oldest in the house… good, bad, indifferent? Sometimes there’s nothing to say at all, and I turn up the AltRock a little louder and notice them staring out the window, each lost in thoughts of the day that was and still to come.

Yesterday we briefly discussed the benefit of memorizing a poem for English class (“Jabberwocky”), the “Miracle of Life” video they watched last year in 7th grade which they wish they could unsee (I don’t know how this came up, but it sounds like a realistic portrayal of childbirth), and that the proudest moment in each of their lives to date is their bar mitzvah.

These two boys have been friends since the first day of preschool. At two years old they found each other and connected over Legos, which is one of only three things they have in common: Legos, karate, and soccer. Where one is adventurous and loves the outdoors, the other is happy at home with a book. One plays Minecraft, and the other the guitar. Defense versus attack on the soccer field. One likes to row, the other skis black diamond.

They don’t hang in the same crowd at school, and as they get older and the differences in their interests are more defined with each passing year, it would seem that they’d naturally drift away from each other. They don’t even attend the same summer camp.

And they are closer than ever.

I listen to the way they interact with each other on the way to karate every Tuesday and Thursday, and I marvel at their easy friendship. They agree and disagree, call each other out and laugh at the same jokes. There is a comfort, security and closeness between these two that transcends their daily lives of different social circles and activities.

“Both of your proudest moments are your bar mitzvahs?” I ask, with a smile. “Well yeah,” they reply, almost in unison. “We haven’t had such long lives yet,” one of them adds.

It’s true. Their lives are young.

“Thanks for the ride,” they both mumble as they grab their green belts and slam the car doors. Neither of them is wearing any shoes and they pick their way carefully along the tarred road. They are deep in conversation.

Their lives are young, yes, and full of the promise of more friends and girls and teams and schools. More opportunities to not do things together. But that doesn’t matter at all. They’re both working toward a black belt in karate.

These two are best friends. And I have a feeling they always will be.

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post, inspired by the prompt, “My proudest moment was…” Hosted by Kristi from Finding Ninee, and co-hosted by Tarana from Sand In My Toes and Kerri from Diagnosed and Still Okay.

Life is Too Short for “Bad” Music

I can channel-surf like nobody’s business. A song comes on the car radio that I don’t like, and it’s gone before anybody even realizes it was a song.

BadMusic

Could be because it reminds me of things I’d rather not remember right then – old relationship gone wrong, bad break-up, an argument with a friend when I was 15 – or because it’s been played on the radio and on my kid’s iPod and the Disney channel too many times to still be enjoyable (anything by Maroon 5 immediately comes to mind), or because it’s simply not a very good song, in my opinion.

I listen to music mostly in my minivan. I spend a lot of time in that goddamn thing, usually schlepping someone to somewhere. Kids to karate, ballet, soccer, orthodontist. And also myself, to meetings, appointments, never-ending errands, lunch with a friend or drinks with the girls.

And honestly, I hate it. The schlepping, and the minivan. I hate that it’s so big. That it’s a minivan. That it has sliding doors, and seats that tuck away, and a trunk that opens and closes with the press of a button. It’s too convenient. It makes Costco runs and carting kids and two-bikes-two-scooters-and-room-for-more too easy. There’s no excuse not to do any of that. “We won’t fit” is never a reason not to schlep. So we’re always schlepping. Nothing screams Stay-at-Home-Mom like that mofo minivan – clearly I am struggling with both!

But I do love the sound system. The source of the music. It’s not state-of-the-art or fancy in any way. It came standard with the car, and is a typical 2012 Honda Odyssey system. CD player. Radio. AM, FM and XM. (Yes a DVD player too, but that is used only on long road trips and no, driving to Costco is not a long road trip).

I love that sound system because it makes the drive, any drive, feel worth it. Most days, most times, I need a soundtrack. Music speaks to me or speaks for me or just lets me be me, as I traverse the roads and freeways, U-turns and one ways. The lyrics, the beat, the melody… they elevate the moment, the mood, the task at hand (namely, schlepping) to something less permanent, less obligatory and more enjoyable. And life is too short to be mired in the mundane, the tedious, the boring. Schlepping, let’s face it, is exactly that.

I channel-surf so quickly because it’s all digital, and pre-programmed, and brightly displayed in pretty blue lights on the dash. The song, the artist, the genre and sometimes even the year. I know where my preferred channels are stored, and if my favorite alternative rock isn’t doing it for me on Alt Nation, there’s always Dierks Bentley crooning country magic over on The Highway or even a random chart topper on Hits 1 to get me through the five o’clock drive (love that new Taylor Swift!). This week I discovered that the hidden value of Rick Astley lies in helping me survive Highway 13 not once, not twice, but five times in less than two hours. Never gonna give you up, 80s on 8!

But the real reason I channel-surf at lightening speed like some amateur DJ is because life is just too damn short to listen to music I don’t want to listen to. Music that doesn’t enhance the moment I’m in some way, some how. Daily driving can be mind-numbing, exhausting even while I’m doing nothing more than sitting on my butt, stopping, starting, accelerating and opening a sliding door with the press of a button to let a kid in or out. When we suddenly, spontaneously all join Garth Brooks on the final verse of “Friends in Low Places” even the endless gray of Highway 13 looks a little brighter.

Yesterday my head-bopping, finger-snapping boy reached out to change the channel. (He channel-surfs faster than I do when motivated). “Don’t touch it,” I said, as the opening chords of Spandau Ballet’s “Gold” filled the car. “This is music from my childhood.”

“But Mom, I like to listen to music from my childhood too,” he replied with a smile. He’s only ten.

I nodded slowly, appreciating that for him too, life is too short for music he doesn’t like.

This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday post.
Hosts: Kristi from Finding Ninee and Stephanie from Mommy, For Real
Guest hosts: Kelly from Just Typikal and Katia from IAMTHEMILK

This week’s sentence was: “Life is too short for…” 

 

I brake for manicures

I spend a lot of time in my minivan. I call it my office. It’s a Honda Odyssey and it can seat eight. It’s the perfect car to move my large family and all our gear and groceries around.

minivan

And on a daily basis there’s a lot of moving around – some days I drive nearly 100 miles, going almost nowhere. The kids’ activities are no further than two to five miles from my house, but somehow the up, down and around many times a day adds up. I barely stop the car to let one child out and another in, and don’t forget your backpack, and please don’t eat those crumbly cheese puffs in my car, and I’ll be back in an hour to pick you up so be ready bye!

Daily life might be a non-stop whirlwind of crazy carpooling, but I do slow it down on occasion. As is obvious by my A to Z theme, I love color and I love it on my nails. When I am blowing about in my whirlwind, with my hair unwashed and my shmootzy leggings, it does feel good to have fingers and toes that look somewhat cared for, in colors that make me smile.

“Pick a color, honey,” one of the manicurists calls out as soon as I step through the door of the nail shop. There is not an empty seat in sight but I am assured that in five minutes I’ll be relaxing in one of those big comfy chairs, with my feet in soapy hot water. “Five more minutes,” Tony, the owner, says every five minutes. That’s how he rolls. I roll my eyes.

In four sets of five more minutes I am escorted to my spot. As I sink my tired tushy into the chair, my manicurist and the one next to her start talking in rapid Vietnamese. I know they’re talking about me. About how impatient I am to wait. About the last time I was there, and didn’t like the color and she had to change it. I have no idea if that is in fact what they’re saying – it’s possible and probable they’re not talking about me at all! But there is always that little twinge of insecurity (or self-centeredness) that they are – it’s my “Elaine” moment every time!

I make friends in the nail shop – the mom who has her 3-week old in tow. Their first time leaving the house. It’s her second, her oldest is at Temple Sinai preschool, do I know it? They recently moved from Chicago.

“That’s fishy,” says the woman on my right. She’s having a loud cell phone conversation with… who I wonder? “And that’s fishy… and that’s fishy too. The whole thing is fishy.” What on earth? But she’s not that chatty off the phone, so I’ll never find out what was so fishy. Probably just as well.

I glance over at the woman sitting across from me. Suddenly she grabs her boobs and looks straight at me. “They still there?” I ask innocently. “Just making sure I’ve paid everyone,” she huffs. Okaaay.

It’s like being in a choose-your-own-adventure story, inside that nail shop. A micro-world of plot lines, and characters, and words. Mom-from-Chicago and I exchange email addresses. Fishy Lady tells me she likes my toe color (Fly, of course) and decides to paint hers the same.

My minivan and whirlwind are waiting… but for now, I brake for manicures.

My nails wearing I Brake for Manicures by OPI

This post was written as part of the April A to Z Challenge. To read more of my A to Z posts click here.