We were headed to the gas station. It was time to bid adieu to the sea of goldfish that littered the backseat of the car. I couldn’t bear the thought that I’d become one of those mommies, in one of those mommy cars, anymore. Bonus: we’d use the time the kids usually spend spreading toys like kudzu across the house before dinner. I might even talk the boys into playing “vacuum the house” when we got home.
“DWIVING!!!” S demands as we approached the car.
“No, no, baby, we’re going to the gas station!” I do my best to sell this with wide eyes and a too-high voice.
“But, don’t you want to see the Big Vacuum?”
In moments like this, I know that the Appropriate Parenting Option is to stand my ground, be firm but loving, and remind my child that he doesn’t control the universe. I also really want to get to the gas station, get rid of those damn goldfish, and be home in time to make dinner before meltdown. I plop S into the driver seat, hook the keys to my belt loop so he couldn’t start the car, and go about strapping N into his carseat.
“Okay, Mommy’s turn to drive!” I walk around the car and reached for the door handle. Just in time to see S insert a quarter into the CD slot.
“NOOO, baby!” I scoop him up and out of the front seat. There had been the four quarters, for the vacuum. Now I can’t find any. As I strap him into the backseat, I keep up a steady line of questioning. “Where are the quarters? How many quarters did you put in?” S is two. He can say his number, but his one-to-one numeracy leaves something to be desired. The odds of him telling how many quarters are in the CD player accurately are stacked against me.
I sigh and resign myself to the situation as I get ready to drive home. No quarters, no vacuum. I turn left to head home. Whirrrrrr, says the CD player. That’s odd. I make a right. Whirr, says the CD player. CD loading.
Today, at the dealership, the earnest young tech informs me, “You know, there are no guarantees we’ll be able to get the quarters out.”
Yeah, welcome to my life, dude.