I had to take a personal day off from work last week. And as often is the case with personal days, I hadn’t planned on taking this day off. I only did so because one of “those” usual unforeseen things of life occurred that always manages to throw a monkey wrench into your plans, even when those plans only included getting up and going to work.
My wife caught a screw in one of the brand new tires we just had put on her car.
I noticed this a few days ago, but as the tire wasn’t looking low on air, and we were flying up to my mom’s in Seattle for the weekend, we let it pass. But the day after we got back, my wife, The Thoroughly Awesome Ms. Crums, loaded up our daughters, Maddo and Little Sis, and headed off to daycare. She got about a mile from home, then remembered the screw. She pulled in the local 7-Eleven, thought the tire looked low, and made a beeline for home.
My wife called AAA, which sent some guy out to put the spare tire on, and then she was on her way. But we still had a new tire with a screw in it, only it was now playing the role of the spare. My wife couldn’t take a day off to drive the car out to the dealership and get the tire fixed, and this brings, at last, to where I am writing this, at my local car wash.
I don’t drive my wife’s car very often, so I figured the least I could do was return the thing in better shape than when I took it out. Which is why I took it to the car wash. And, lo, what did I see in that 2006 Jeep Liberty?
Anyone who has kids knows what I am talking about. And I am not talking about the two car seats that cost almost $200 each and that you are legally required to strap your kids into so that they are more secure, and can move even less than, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins did when they rode Apollo 11 off to the moon back in 1969.
No, I am about the detritus of what happens to your vehicle when you haul two toddlers to daycare five days a week.
When you have kids, you understand several things off the bat. And though it might not be Rule No. 1, one of those things you come to know is that kids spill everything they can get their hands on. And they spill it everywhere they can.
I pulled into the car wash, and I really took a look at the car’s interior for the first time. Here is just a sample of what was littering the place up:
Two small snack cups that were empty.
Approximately five dozen Honey Nut Cheerios that, at some time, had been inside those now empty snack cups.
One baby bottle, half full of formula that was who-knows-how-many-days-old.
Two kids’ jackets.
One each of a burp cloth, a hand towel and what I think was a scarf.
One diaper bag.
Six different toys, each of which has been, in the words of my older daughter, Maddo, “My favorite!”
That was the stuff just from my daughters. There were also two Kleenex boxes, smashed in and with the Kleenex falling out, half a dozen gas station receipts, two fliers for some kind of only-around-in-tax-season tax preparation shop and a guidebook of the flora and fauna of the Sierra Nevada region.
The place was like a combination of the bottom of a monkey’s zoo cage and my old frat house bedroom. Yet, even though I was paying $33 for the “works wash”, that included vacuuming and a once-over of the interior, I couldn’t bring myself to make the, um, possibly legal car wash workers deal with all the chaos that reigned through that interior. I tossed the mass of papers out, grabbed all the big stuff, threw it in the back with the kids’ stroller, and left the Cheerios for the cleaners’ vacuums to suck up.
About half an hour later, a new car emerged, complete with a hint of the always awesome New Car Smell. I drove off, headed home, and at the end of the day, presented my wife with the results of the car wash’s labor.
The next day, our daughters were back in their seats. And the Cheerios were back where they must belong, all over the backseat and floor. My kids may show me something new every day, but with their ability to spill everywhere, sometimes, the more things change, the more they really do stay the same.