Which currently smells like onion rings. OK, well, see what happens is that I have to make a quick trip to Target and Super Toddler isn't having it. At all. He is currently clinging to the underside of the cart and screaming "No, no! Stop stealing me, strange lady!" So, I do what any other mom does when pushed to the wall; I tell him that if he stops pretending to be kidnapped, he can have 1 thing from the $1 section of Target. Anything he wants. Have you not met the $1 section of Target, Readers? Oh, you poor things. It is glorious; about 3 short aisles of brightly colored junk that will keep your children occupied forever. Enough glow bracelets to throw a rave! Cheap toy cars probably laden with lead paint! Wrapping paper! Greeting cards! Seasonal stamps! Baskets! Shower poofs! Stickers by the millions! St. Patrick's Day crap, dripping with glitter! Grow your own Basil kits, complete with dirt! Slinkys! All for you and all right there in the doorway of Target, no need to make a separate trip to the $1 store. So, I pry him out from under the cart and let him loose. I smugly smile to myself, as I meander over to pick out some greeting cards (I am not immune to the lure of the $1 section); he'll return with a slinky or toy car, per usual, and we will be on our way.
But my smug smile turns sour when he comes bounding back to our cart with a bag of onion rings. Oh nuts, I seem to have forgotten that there is a food section of the $1 section, the dark underbelly of this product playground. Target's food $1 section is like the $1 section's shameful cousin that you really hope won't make it to the wedding. Or under the boardwalk at Coney Island; oh sure the song is catchy and all, but you wanna know what is really under the boardwalk at Coney Island? No, neither do I. Probably graffiti and condom wrappers, just to start with. The $1 food section is awash with stale cotton candy, gummy ropes, and, apparently, bags of onions rings. Who buys a bag of onion rings? A bag? Onion rings belong in their natural habitat; a greasy paper cup at the State Fair. Perhaps on the side of your Cheeseburger at the diner. Or maybe in a tower at Red Robin; even then, you are pushing it. But they, unequivocally, do not belong in a bag, at Target, in my cart, next to discounted shaving cream and cat litter. And they certainly do not belong in the Awkward Mobile, but sadly, that is where they end up. And, even more sadly, that is where they are opened.
See that shiny picture up there? Yeah, that was taken the day we bought the Awkward Mobile. These days she is covered in snow, which is hardly anyone's fault, expect maybe Michigan's. But she is also covered in Cheerios, Goldfish, and that dirt cloud that used to follow Pig Pen around on the Peanuts, and I lay the blame for that squarely on three little shoulders. I think you might know them. Let's take a tour!
OK, let's start in the front seat, which usually looks like this:
Super Toddler loves many things, but there are three things that rank above all others:
Monster Trucks, Transformers, and Pretending to Drive the Van.
Or really any car, he isn't too picky.
And since Super Toddler just figured out how to undo his own seat belt, the front seat looks more and more like this. Other than random toddlers, it also contains; 3 books we need to return to the library, an assortment of change, 1 button, Duct Tape, a package of diaper wipes, some gum, a garage door opener to our old house in Illinois, a air freshener that was fresh 6 months ago, a pretty consistent film of gray snow, a broken glove box that is taped shut with Duct Tape, and a Birthday Card for Awkward Mom that Awkward Dad forgot to sign or bring in the house.
The middle seat contains 2 car seats, a cup holder full of Good n' Plenty's, 3 empty baby food pouches, a 2007 Atlas, Super Baby, 2 winter hats, an empty bottle of apple juice, 1 glove, a empty bag of onion rings, whichever Super Boy won today's Toddler-Shotgun, an Advent Wreath that Super Preschooler made, and acres and acres of Cheerios. There is also part of a pickle stuck to the passenger side sliding door window that Super Preschooler threw there on our last road trip to see the Awkward Grandparents.
The back seat is where toys go to die. There are 25 of them currently in the car, 5 of which are from McDonald's. 8 are toy dinosaurs in various sizes. There are also transformers, wands, books, crayons, an etch-a-sketch, travel bingo, numerous toy cars, the table to Super Preschooler's toy castle, a water gun, and 1 dress-up shoe. The back seat has 2 car seats; booster and regular. There is a microscopic space next to these where Awkward Mom is expected to sit anytime we travel with an extra adult. Currently an old diaper box sits there to collect the car toys. It is empty. There are 4 cup holders back there, they are all sticky and one of them might have something growing in it. I don't know, I am too afraid to look closely. The floor has the aforementioned Cheerios and Goldfish, plus 2 granola bars wrappers, a Cracker Jack bag, a leathery cheese stick, and banana peel. The ceiling is peppered with brown dots from that time Awkward Dad thought it wise to give Super Toddler a lidless chocolate shake.
The truck is the cleanest place in the van, with 1 blue tub, a bottle of water, a car scraper, this chair cover that I have to return to Ikea, a backpack with extra clothes for the children, and 2 sand toys. And yes, it is possible for a grown adult to fit comfortably back there, just ask Awkward Uncle.
So, she isn't invisible, able to time travel, or made out of a magic ring powered with willpower, but she is ours. (Completely ours; we got her in one of our better car deals ever.) The Awkward Mobile joined us right before Super Baby did, as I did not fancy stuffing three children into the back of a Toyota Corolla, which can be done, by the way:
Surprise, surprise, we decided to get the Awkward Mobile instead, and there hasn't been one day that I have regretted that decision. She is a mini-van worthy of a Superhero Family much less awkward then ours, but I am glad she sticks around with us anyway.
Messy, fragrant with onion rings and a diaper that can wait until we get home, we adore our Awkward Mobile. She is roomy and reliable and ready to road-trip at a moment's notice. But of all of us, I think Super Toddler might love her the best.