Ryan has been secretly jonesing for a minivan ever since I called him at work from our half-bathroom and shakily explained to him that we would, maybe, possibly, definitely be having another baby. You might remember that we bought a car not too long after Wes was born to replace my little Neon, which was fast becoming totally inadequate to carry around two kids and all of their accessories.
That would have been a great time to buy a minivan. And I kind of wanted to, but someone reasoned that we didn't need the third row because there was no way in hell we'd be adding anyone to our family, like ever. Not if there was any chance he'd nurse every two hours around the clock for six straight months like Wes. But then Wes got really cute and I finished my dissertation and, well, plans change.
I joked nervously to Ryan that we should have gone for the minivan instead of the perfect and cute little SUV. He laughed and said he "thought this might happen." I was slightly incredulous, since HE was the one who had talked me out of a minivan in the first place. No matter, I thought. My mom fit two kids in a Pinto, I can fit three in a RAV4. And I'll look really cool doing it. We don't need a minivan! I will not conform! And look! We had my niece for the weekend and it totally worked!
That was the plan. Then Charlie grew past the LATCH-able forty pounds, meaning he would have to be next to one of the doors and Wes would have to be in the middle. And then Wes started doing stiff-baby every time I tried to put him in the car and he and Charlie learned to kick each other while strapped into their seats and every trip out of the house no matter how short turned into an exercise in LOSING MY MIND.
After they learned to kick each other I fessed up to Ryan that I was having doubts about our car situation. He was delighted! He had been doing research and thought the Toyota Sienna was the car for us! He told me all about how the seats fold flat into the floor, it gets reasonable fuel economy for a car its size, and you can fit like six pieces of sheetrock in it WITH THE TAILGATE CLOSED OMG.
I was still dubious. In my family, you do not replace a car until you have to sell it for $200 cash and arrange to have it towed to the new owner's house. The red car is still so new and pretty!
But Ryan's enthusiasm and the promise of side-curtain airbags swayed me and today we went out to look at some minivans. The first one we looked at had ninety-five thousand miles on it and no iPod port and still I thought Ryan was going to have to physically drag me from the car to take me home. Charlie clambored in and ran to the third row where he bounced on the seat on his knees and shrieked "I'M SITTING IN THE WAY BACK!!" Wes took the seat behind me next to the door, just like in our current car. I sat in the driver's seat and asked Ryan to go get the carseats. We would be test-driving this puppy. All of us.
It was awesome. So awesome. The carseats went in easily and it drove so nicely you'd never know you were hauling an extra half-car around behind you. Charlie seemed very far away, but no one was fighting or complaining. I was dizzy with the prospect of all those potential seating configurations. I mentally laid out the trunk--stroller goes here, groceries go here, emergency diaper stash goes here, work bag goes here. Dream car. Truly.
Charlie complained cheerfully but loudly about the next three cars we looked at because they did not have power doors. "I want to go back to the silver MINIVAN with the automatic door!! The door with the BUTTON, Mama! I want to be in the SILVER CAR." Those cars also did not have carseat tether hooks behind the third row, so they were out anyway, but he will not be present for the final negotiations. Neither will I. Nothing about pulling up to a car dealership in a RAV4 with two kids and practically ready to deliver a third puts you in a good bargaining position.
After a hot chocolate and potty stop we went to another dealership to test drive an Odyssey, the King of the Suburbs around here, and a reasonably sized and priced Mazda MPV. The only Odyssey they had was the thirty-three thousand dollar Mafia Cruiser, complete with a sunroof, fake wood detailing, a DVD system, and a black leather interior (and a generous cargo area suitable for transporting dead people, I noted). I was turned off immediately, but drove it anyway to confirm what I already knew. Charlie's silver MINIVAN (!!!) was the car for us. The MPV was too small, the Odyssey was too big, and the Sienna was just right.
I'm enjoying my last few weeks of small-car smugness, but I sure am going to enjoy those sliding doors when we have them.