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This morning, my husband got in the car and said one of the nicest things “It still has that new car smell.”

Well, at least there’s that.

This car has been with us for three weeks. We turned in our Toyota minivan at the end of its lease and decided to rock our world and get a totally different car.

A Honda minivan.

My husband said that if you closed your eyes, you could be driving the Toyota because it was so similar.

But I did not take his advice.

With four kids in the back, I don’t need to add driving with my eyes closed to my list of  things that will make this not seem like a new car.

In fact, even with just 50 percent child attendance, things can get tricky. One week after we got our car, I was taking the twins to saxophone lessons. Nobody wanted to go.  There is nothing to kill your kids’ excitement about playing an instrument like buying them said instrument. And there is nothing to get children to set the bickering to atomic like telling them to get in the car.

Even though our minivan has sliding doors on both sides, one child decided that they HAD to get in on one particular side, which happened to be the side where her sister HAD to sit and NOT MOVE HER LEGS AT ALL to accommodate her sister’s passage. I’d like to say that I was letting them try to work this out on their own, giving them the chance to put into place all of those diplomacy tips I have calmly delivered over the years, but frankly, I was trying to figure out whether this car had a nice little switch to fold in the side mirrors while you back out of the garage. It didn’t. Not that there was a big paint smear on the edge of the mirror from scraping against the garage door or anything.

So, when things were reaching a fevered pitch, “MOM, she called me a MEANIE,” I a little bit snapped and said.

“STOP being MEAN. AND STOP saying MEANIE and just go to the other side of the car  Just because your sister is choosing not to be generous, which is her right, just as it is our right to notice habitual non-generous behavior and form an opinion about that person . . .

“What’s habitual?”

“. . . doesn’t mean you have to play into it”

“FINE I’ll move.”

Five seconds of blissful silence while she gets into the car and is seated. Probably the only five seconds of silence that day.

I put the car into gear, manually folded the mirror in, and slowly took my foot off the brake


“What was that?”
Here’s where I got another five seconds of silence I wasn’t expecting.

“Um, Mom?” said one little girl. “You know the door is open, right?”

Long story short, I said a few words that the kids sometimes repeat, which I am only okay with because we don’t know any german speakers. We drove to saxophone with the door open (and when you go over 5 mph it the car beeps like a mutterficker) and I planned a trip to the dealer to see they could adjust what was clearly a minor problem.

On the next school day, I took our minivan to the dealer. After an hour in the waiting area (they have free wifi and something akin to what they call a “Hot Beverine” on The Simpsons), a service guy who I like to call Douchebag comes out to say

“You managed to bend the rails, so it’s going to be about $600 and it will take some more time to fix”

He said it would be done by 1 pm and gave me a ride home.

How I wish that were the end of this story.
One pm came and went. I called, they said they’d be done by three. I rearranged the carpool for Middle School pickup. At three I called and they said four. I ran over to the elementary school to walk home the younger kids. At four, they said it would be 5, so I got everyone on their bikes so we could ride down to deliver the middle schooler to her A Capella performance at the Farmer’s Market. Good thing the Farmer’s Market is right next to the bike shop, because the middle schooler fell of her bike and jammed the breaks, so she had to ride my bike to the performance (three phone calls on the way because she DOESN’T actually know how to get to the Farmer’s Market). I carried her bike with the little guys to the bike shop. Got to the market just in time for the performance. My phone battery was charged! I turned on the video and pressed play. They started singing! Beautiful version of “Cups!”
The phone rings, which of course automatically stops the video recording and is disturbing to everyone around me. It’s Douchebag, and the car is ready!

I send the middle schooler home on the bike with the girls and the boy and I bike over to the dealer (only two bikes can fit into the car.)

When we go to pick up the car, douchebag comes out and notes a faint smear of paint on the other side of the car. He looks at me and earns his nickname by saying

“Do you have a small garage?”