what my car says about my kids

A few weeks ago, I was quite dismayed when my dad, who was visiting from California, noted that I do not keep my car in the same pristine condition he keeps his. Funny because I’m otherwise a rather meticulous person. As in, I hate clutter. My house is not always “clean clean” but it’s usually straightened up.

Of course, when I first bought my pretty “blue ribbon blue” Prius in late 2009, I instituted a no food policy for the kids. They are no longer of an age where I feel like I have to indulge every hunger pang, and we don’t really take road trips that would justify bringing food for the drive. But sometimes the post-soccer-and-baseball game snacks end up being consumed in the car, there’s the occasional bottle of water (fine) or Capri Sun (sticky) that is opened, or a kid will get in my car at the end of the day so hungry that he starts pulling out his uneaten lunch for the three-minute drive home from school.

But really, the little bit of eating that happens in the car does not contribute greatly to its non-pristine state. Honestly, it’s the quirky personalities of my kids. Let’s explore what really does litter my car.

1. Sticks: In case you didn’t realize, a stick makes a very fine wand. A larger stick might make a great staff. The staffs usually get thrown in the back of the car; the wands end up crushed on the floor of the backseat. If there were a TV show about stick hoarders, my boys would be stars of the premier episode. Colin hasn’t met a stick he doesn’t want to keep forever.

2. Books: I gave birth to two voracious readers. While Colin (like his mother) cannot read in the car without wanting to hurl, Jack can read all day long, regardless of the speed I am driving, whether I’m moving the car forward or in reverse, and no matter the time of day. Right now there’s a Batman book in the car, The Complete Guide to Rocks and Minerals (rocks are also collectibles) and The Amazing Adventures of Ordinary Boy. The boys never know when they might want to read about a conventional superhero, an everyday character they can relate to, or look up a rock they found on the playground.

3. Paper and pencils: Colin may not be able to read in the car but he can draw and when Jack isn’t reading, he’s usually drawing. Their illustrations (and rejects) blanket the backseat of the car because I have a hard time throwing them away. They are art. I leave their strewn papers untouched until they get stepped on enough times to tear or render a footprint impression.

What does the interior of my car say about my kids? They are stick-obsessed readers who love to draw.

If I drove a luxury car like my dad, I might be more strict. But I can console myself with the condition of my car with the though that some day, the Prius is going to be theirs. Then this mommy is going to buy herself a car worthy of her great shoe collection.

I might allow myself to drink a latte in said car. But definitely there will be no sticks allowed.