Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fancy Minivan Moment

One week ago I received an email from Charles, Toyota salesman I love, that an old woman had passed away.  This would be really sad, except I didn't know her and she had just purchased a 2011 Toyota Sienna XLE (fancy) minivan, which her family sold  back to the dealership.  A used 2011 fancy lucky day. (Sorry old lady I don't know.)  All I had to do to make it mine was go to the dealership first thing in the morning (uh-oh Cole seems a little sick and can't go to school,) negotiate to the price Alex and I had agreed was our limit (well below the value of the fancy van,)  and drive out a happy lady. No problem.

I woke up feeling confident that I could make this happen.  I'd been searching desperately for a used minivan in good condition, without a million miles on it and had found this was a big challenge. I guess most of us in the market for a minivan should realize our children will beat the crap out of it fast, a used one is surely to show signs of that.  Unfortunately a new one with the fancy amenities someone as awesome as I am requires is just too much money. (I've been cursing the poor new home market for months now, but forcing me to compromise on the luxury of my minivan is just too much...I'm already buying a minivan, isn't that punishment enough?)

So I buckled all three kids into their seats, dropped Aiden at preschool, and headed with cranky baby and snotty three year old to buy a minivan.  I spent the next 4 hours fighting with men in white polo shirts over thousands of dollars, whether or not my husband needed to be there, and whether something is a "good deal" if you can't afford it.  Oh boy, it was maddening. 

This process was very annoying by itself, but only made worse (as many adult situations are) by Cole's and Stella's presence.  Cole was snotty, which is some what of an understatement.  His nose was pouring thick mucous and I could not find enough tissues among all the pushy men to catch it.  I felt like grabbing the bottom of the clean white polo shirt the sales manager was wearing when he asked me if I thought I understood how the financial part works, and wiping Cole's snot with that.  Thanks overweight, insulting man, I've got it all figured out.   Cole was wiping his snot on me, on  the stroller, the display board of new vehicles, the chairs...everything.  Snot was not slowing down his enthusiasm for pretending to be batman and spiderman by climbing a partial wall by the customer service section of the dealership though....which clearly was not built to support 35 pounds. Just give me a deal and I'll take the kid away.

Stella retained her status as fantastic baby, however her need to eat and my lack of thinking of a bottle made for a very uncomfortable situation.  No one should have to nurse a baby in a car dealership with a three year old in tow, while negotiating the purchase of a van.  I did though because I had no choice.  I tried to find an out of the way location, even debated climbing into the back of the large pick-up truck and nursing there, but did not.  So....I ended up in the handicap stall of the women's bathroom.  This was not fun for several reasons.  First, I was sitting on a toilet.  Second, Cole would not stop opening the door and two people walked in while I was nursing and were confused and/or scared to see me sitting on the toilet with my shirt up, yelling at my son.  Finally, there was an elderly woman with a walker that genuinely needed that stall and I just felt terrible that I was occupying it, but didn't know how to move without creating a horrible situation. Oh, and Stella pooped, literally all over me, while I was feeding her.  Good times.

So this was not fun.  I left when an agreeable price could not be found, picked up Aiden, called my father, and immediately made plans to return to the dealership to get my van.  I ditched Aiden and Cole at my amazing friend Jenn's house and loaded up Stella for more fun with the men in white polos.  We arrived and we purchased.  We debated over interest rates and warranties.  I negotiated over trade in value of my current car.  I was amazing.  I felt like the most powerful woman on earth to be doing all of this without my husband and while holding a baby.  To be the one with all the decision making power, the one that can wipe snot, clean poop and talk down a slimy salesman $5k....all while nursing an infant and coordinating meals.  Clearly, I worked hard for this van and I was so excited to have it.  I mean, I earned it after 10 hours at the dealership, right?

Day one with the van was exciting for all of us. The boys could not get enough of the sliding doors, their ability to stand inside the van and the camera that displayed everything while we were backing up.  I was elated over the lack of ink pen markings on the seats, the absence of chocolate milk in the cup holders and the distance away from my boys.  It was all just so exciting.  And then, it happened.  My magnificent minivan moment came to a close and I was reminded of why I purchased a minivan, where I am in life and why I should not think about the potential for anything I currently own or have to be "nice." 

I didn't pull the van all the way in the garage after our first journey out. Aiden is compulsive about shutting doors and keeping everything in order.  He shut the garage door on the back of my van.  It scraped down the back window, attempting to force itself further down by scraping into the beautiful curve of my van and then retreated back up, leaving multiple scratches and scars that bear witness to my life.  Not even 24 hours post purchase it was aesthetically jacked up....and I am sure this is just the beginning.  I slaved for that van.  I was proud of that van.  Now, as with most things my children are involved in, it is another display of their energy level, their intrusion into every part of my life, their all consuming nature....and unfortunately their ability to teach me something worth knowing.  It's just a van.  It's just the large vehicle that we will be driving around in for the next 8 years or so.  I did cry.  I did mourn the end of the van's 18 hours of perfection.  But, every time I look at it I feel a little less annoyed by it and a little more amused.  I mean, the timing was spectacular.  My own fascination with the van was ridiculous and let's be real, it's just a van.  So, the minivan moment was over and now mine is just another to someday be on the list of used minivans where some younger mom will wonder why she can't find a used minivan that isn't all jacked up.  Maybe I should leave my number inside the glove box for a quick consultation with her about how quickly her kid will do their own damage? 


Jessica Honegger said...

Love the lesson learned! Why do we bother with all of our interior decorating energy, anyway?

Laura Haehl said...

Ah Les! That is a great story. I am glad you are finding the humor in it because I was laughing!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

Love this.

Personally, I have backed my once pristine minivan out of the garage when the hatch was up thereby shattering the glass all over the driveway and into said minivan with some extra flying shards landing on my toddlers for good measure TWICE. But last week I scraped the heck out of the side during carpool line and I just rolled my eyes.

We do not store our treasures up in minivans, where spoiled milk in sippy cups will rot away...

RookieMom Heather said...

We just borrowed the fanciest of the fancy minivans for an 11-day adventure. I have a feeling I'm about to get spoiled!