For years I resisted. There was no way I was going to buy a mini-van. Slowly, I came to the realization that I had to it. And the lifestyle change came with many stories.
Wife and I unloading a llama from our mini-van
As a young couple, we had a Volkswagen Rabbit as our car of choice. It was a small reliable zippy thing that was good on gas. My wife never forgave me for buying a beige one when I could have gotten a red one.
When we had our first child, it was still okay. This was around the time child seats became mandatory. The first ones were awkward in design, not really fitting a car all that well. And although there was also a lot of stuff we needed to carry around with a new baby, the Rabbit had enough cargo space.
When our daughter was born, the Rabbit was feeling full. We needed to upgrade. By that time, I had a company vehicle and opted for a Ford Taurus Wagon. It was bigger and had lots of cargo space. We could put the playpen in there!
Child number three made a appearance. Now the Taurus was feeling full. But the kids were still small and could all fit in. They were a little squished together for the trips around town, to school, shopping, music practice and soccer games.
They kept growing of course. By the time we drove to Florida for a March Break vacation, it was obvious that another solution was needed. Twenty four hours of driving with three kids in the backseat complaining about his elbow in her face or her knee in his belly will make you loopy.
I realized that, with the kids on the verge of adolescence, the problem would only get worse. My resistance was done. I was a parent with kids and a transportation problem. Despite my wife’s protestations, we needed a mini-van.
Fully embracing this idea, I did not look at “sport” mini-vans. Those were poor excuses for clutching on to one’s manhood, as if fog lights, mag wheels and a spoiler on a mini-van would make you look “cool.” No, I went for practicality. We bought a used mint colored seven-seat Ford mini-van.
It served us well. The three teenagers had ample room for themselves. Family trips were … peaceful. They could lounge around and do what teenagers do best … sleep.
The mint mini-van served its time. It was retired when my daughter, three weeks after obtaining her G driver’s license, rear-ended someone. Off we went to the Ford dealership and bought another used mini-van.
It was quickly dubbed the “Purple Monster” because it always seemed to be having mechanical problems. However, its problems ended soon. My younger son, in a hurried attempt to catch the school bus at the end of the farm laneway, drove it through the hay field, ruining the front end. We barely were able to drive it to the same dealership. This time we bought a new Ford mini-van.
Looking back, I must admit that seven-seat mini-vans were great. We had lots of room for people. My teenagers loved to surprise me when picking them up. “Dad, can you drive my friends home?” With all of them looking expectantly at me, I knew Dad’s Taxi was in business. I discovered that you can pack 13 bales of hay in a mini-van. We even used it to transport a llama from Perth to our farm near Almonte.
With the kids all grown and the last mini-van on its last legs, our mini-van days came to an end. We had three mini-vans over 15 years. They were fabulous as family transportation. But, finally, my wife got her wish: a small RED car.