The Minivan vs The SUV

A few months ago, my youngest brother invited us to the City of San Antonio for Easter weekend. I hesitated, not because I think that San Antonio is one of the dullest cities in Texas, but because when we roll, we roll deep. Eight deep to be exact; which includes three two-year olds, a teenager, a tweenager, an autistic ten year old, and two slightly immature adults. The stress of that much family in one spot can lead to the kind of resentment that can cause a family rift for years.

That aside, we decided to head up I-10 and visit my brother and his family for a change of pace. We needed a rental though. The minivan (or the Famboghini as I like to call it), as awesome as it is, is the primary vehicle in this family; and as the primary vehicle, it logs some hard miles, with going to work, soccer practice, guitar practice, random recitals, grocery runs, park trips, late night take out runs, etc., you get the picture.

So the only vehicle advertised, that could accommodate eight passengers was an SUV. Obviously, my preference for the minivan had to be set aside, in order to rent a vehicle that would seat all of eight of us safely. Against better judgement, we rented a Yukon Denali to help us with our travels.

Walking up on the vehicle in the rental parking lot, I have to admit, the white color, the newness of it all, kind of had me crushing a little bit. It looked pretty good, and while the minivan lacks any kind of pretense, the SUV has enough style that it might fool the casual onlooker that the driver of that vehicle is not some poor soul driving his tribe of hellions from their weekly ritual of James Coney Island’s Kids Eat Free Wednesdays.

I drove it home and played with all of the dials and switches on the way. I changed the satellite radio stations, turned up the volume, and became infatuated with all of the new technology this monstrosity of a thing offered. I pulled it into the driveway and found myself feeling something…dare I say cool? Upon seeing what we rented, the older two children suggested we trade in the minivan and buy something like to this. The suggestion, I’m embarrassed to admit, crossed my mind.

It was time to load up, but the trunk space, however, left something to be desired. The third row in an SUV takes up prime storage space, and when it came time to load all of our bags, I had to get creative to ensure all of our bags fit, an issue that wouldn’t happen in the minivan. The ingress and egress of passengers was a bit more difficult than the minivan too. You have to fold down part of the second row to let third row passengers in, once the third row passengers are seated, then you allow the second row passengers in so that they can get buckled in. There’s no cool automatic sliding doors, or walking to your seats and buckling in like civilized human beings; in an SUV, you have to climb over seats, hope you don’t lose your balance, and then wage war with assorted seat straps to ensure safety.

We hit I-10 and made our way towards San Antonio. Driving a huge truck or an SUV, is not fun. The acceleration is meh, the handling is bleh, and parking one of these things is just a pain in the ass. Sure, this thing might be fun off road somewhere, but I live in the city, and the only reason I need to drive an eight passenger anything this big, is when I’m tearing through the countryside armed to the teeth heading to a safe zone during the zombie apocalypse.

I’ll give you this, the SUV almost had me with all of its semi-sexy styling, shiny gadgetry and new fangled technology, but in the end, the pragmatism and awesomeness of the minivan conquers all.


The Vanifesto

First off, I didn’t write this, Drew Magary of GQ did, but never have I read an article that highlighted both the struggle and awesomeness of owning a minivan. Here’s a rip of his Vanifesto from the article:

☐ Make Sure the Foldaway Third Row is Easy to Fold Away
Car salesmen make this look very simple, because they do it every day and thus have developed superhuman foldaway strength. Your first attempt will not be so effortless. Make sure your old lady is using the can when you try so that she can’t see you struggle.

☐ Don’t Pay a Ton More for the Built-In DVD Player.
A 2012 Toyota Sienna XLE costs roughly $5,000 more than a more basic model. And really, all you’re paying for is a DVD player to shut your kids up on long trips. Buy the lesser model, then spring for a dual-screen Philips car DVD player, which costs just over a hundred bucks and can be mounted on the headrest. Or be a douchebag parent and buy your kid an iPad.

☐ Check the Latch System for Installing the Car Seats.
Sometimes the little metal loop buried within the crease of the backseat is hard to reach. This will result in hours of you wincing in pain and screaming “FUCK!” in your driveway while trying to get your Britax car seat in. Bring it to the dealer and install it during a test-drive to make sure it goes in easy.

☐ Take Your Kid On a Test Drive.
It’ll give you the sneak preview of what your life is about to become. The downside: Your child will demand you buy every van you test-drive. They aren’t picky at all about that shit.

☐ Manual Sliding Doors Are for Chumps.
Go power sliding doors all the way. I will never get tired of pushing that button. It makes me feel like a space-limo driver.

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Not So Prompt Thoughts on Father’s Day

Let’s be honest, as made up Parent Appreciation Days go, Mother’s Day wins. It’s got the pageantry, the church services, the bourgeois brunches and all the assorted emotional fanfare that comes with making something totally made up successful. Not to mention, the mothers have better songs: The Intruders “I’ll Always Love My Mama”, Boyz II Men, “A Song For Mama”, even Tupac’s (even though you was a crack fieeeeeend mama) “Dear Mama” are all iconic songs dedicated to mothers. What’s the first song that comes to mind when you think about fathers? The Temptations “Papa Was a Rolling Stone, in the chorus, the mother laments his death and all of the loneliness he bequeathed them. Wtf? I won’t even get into the whole single mother shout out’s that happen on Father’s Day, I want to keep this post classy.

Honestly, I don’t think father’s care too much. We recognize that Father’s Day was a political move done to give us parity on the parent appreciation front, and we appreciate that, but in the end, we recognize the day is an afterthought, the Hallmark of equivalent of ‘oh yeah you guys too’. It’s cool, because as I took in all of the adulation via text message for having unprotected sex with my wife a few times too many, I started to think, you know what would really show some fatherly appreciation? Not cards, not Facebook posts, or gift sets or whatever, but what would really show some appreciation would be if the wife got all of the kids dressed, packed them in the minivan and left the house all day. Basically, remove all reminders of fatherhood, and let me forget what it means to be responsible for sheltering, feeding and clothing my own progeny. I think that would be kinda awesome, right?

Cry Baby Cry

Initially I smirked at what was happening. The foolish arrogance of a man too confident in his own daddiness had done me a disservice. My youngest daughter had begun to cry while we were wandering through the produce section of a local grocery. I wasn’t sure what she was crying about, but I was pretty sure I could calm her down. I picked her up out of the basket, and held her with the confidence of a father who was certain his fatherliness would calm his little girl.

For a moment, it seemed to work. She didn’t stop crying completely, but her commitment to making a scene appeared to lose its legs. In retrospect, I pulled a George W. in a flight suit and a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner waving in the background; I claimed victory before it all got started.

The first sign this wasn’t going to end well was when I tried to place my youngest daughter back into the grocery cart. I couldn’t sit her still enough to buckle her in, and every time I went for the strap, she was halfway out of the cart trying to climb back into my arms. While I was trying to prevent her from doing a nose dive onto the grocery’s floor she increased the volume and intensity of her crying.

What was a simple cry, that could be ignored with a bit of concentration, quickly ratcheted up to a full on shriek. She was twisting in my arms and killing my ears as she tried to point out the source of her frustration.the catalyst It was one of those car grocery carts that her brothers were riding in with their mother. The one she was pointing to was unattended, but it had a bottle of water and a sales paper in it. I couldn’t determine whether or not someone was using it, or if it had been abandoned. My daughter’s shrieks had taken on a maniacal quality that triggered a fight or flight instinct. I fled, but the problem, was that I fled with my daughter in my arms. I called myself looking for another ‘car’ cart while I pushed a cart, held a screaming two year old, and scoped the place for an empty ‘car’ cart. I circled the entire store looking and endured judgement from other adults before I found my wife. I gave her the groceries that were in my basket, my wallet, and announced we were going to the minivan.

In the minivan she wailed even harder. My attempts to block her out by thumbing through screens on my phone, was met with paranoid thoughts that some do-gooder pedestrian, would call Child Protective Services on a suspicious man in a minivan. I was expecting my daughter to get tired, give up, or tap out, but her commitment to the struggle was real; and had I spotted one of those car carts in the parking lot, I would have retrieved it, sat her in it, and walked for miles. But there was no cart to be found, only the incredibly shrill sound of my youngest daughter’s discontent, and it’s moments like those, where you want to strangle every person that told you that children are a ‘blessing’.

Do You Smell That? (Colonel Kilgore’s Ode to Coffee)

You smell that. Do you smell that?
Coffee, Son. Nothing else in the world smells like that.
I love the smell of coffee in the morning.
You know one time we went to work at 7:30 am and stayed for hours
and when it was all over I walked back to the Minivan
The smell, you know that freshly brewed smell?
the whole day… smelled like – Victory.

hood figga pt iii (running man)

I have been meaning to write the next installment in the hood figga series for a while now; and the only reason I haven’t written one sooner is because I wanted the next installment to include an impromptu (see unauthorized) photo of the next hood figga. A couple of problems though: 1) cell phone pics from a distance are worthless 2) taking pics of random people on the street just might get your butt kicked.

With that said, I have been secretly trying to catch a shot of the latest hood figga for a little over a month. His schedule, for whatever reason coincides almost exactly with mine whenever I go to drop off or pick up the son. Because of this, I can almost count on seeing him when I hit a specific intersection.

He’s a big dude, probably 6 ft, 240 maybe 250 lbs. He’s one of those bulky dudes, bordering on fat, but slightly athletic. He wears this dark green nylon pullover regardless as to whether or not it’s hot outside. Anyway, his routine is pretty simple; jogs at a very relaxed pace (slower than a good power walker), stops at the corner and then walks backward back to his starting point. That’s his morning routine.

His afternoon routine is basically the same thing, but he brings his three little girls along for their afternoon workout with Dad. It’s kind of cool really. And on a good day, I’d like to think I would do the same thing. But who am I fooling?

Real Parents Drive Minivans

Yes, it’s true. Real parents drive minivans. I guess I should define what I mean by ‘real’ parents because there are some people who have kids but don’t really qualify as real parents.

First off, to be a ‘real’ parent you have to have more than one child. Technically, yes, you one child people have created a young person, that I assume you feel obligated to provide shelter, food and clothes for, and that’s nice. But having one child, once you learn the basics is, for lack of a better word, easy. Only children don’t: argue about who sits in the front seat, fight over a toy that they both have, steal from each other, or collaborate and conspire against their parents. (well maybe they do, but not in concert with each other) Sure, there might be some minor schedule conflicts that may arise as your child gets older, but there’s no real parenting in that.

Secondly, real parents put their children first. This looking and being cool business died the minute your child was conceived. Money you’re wasting on trendy clothes? Forget it. Four dollar frappacinos? Lose ’em. Driving a sport utility to maintain some modicum of cool? Stop yourself.

Embrace your decision to have more than one child (again, you one child people don’t count…maybe single mothers). The protection the minivan provides as you navigate these mean city streets is like no other. You’d be surprised at how your affinity for yammering on your cell with your fake CD shades pushed on top of your head as you drift into other lanes will suddenly stop. Drop your kids off at school knowing that they can step out of the sliding door of the minivan safely without worrying whether or not your child will twist an ankle stepping out of an SUV. You can’t toe into family life. You’ve got to go all in; that means buying a respectable pair of mom jeans, that means wearing your old U2 Elevation tour shirt, that means you roll the minivan with pride.