I was at my son’s baseball game when one of his brothers fell and scraped his knee. No problem, I thought. I reached into my oversized purse to retrieve Neosporin and a band-aid and all was well in the world again. About a half hour later, another mom spilled food on her shorts. I whipped out a Tide clean stick and blotted the stain, which faded within minutes.
The other parents teased and applauded me for my readiness for any situation. I started to wonder how long my family could survive living out of my handbag and car.
If you emptied the storage spaces and explored the nooks and crannies of my minivan, you could probably exist quite comfortably for at least three days. I’m not certain why I feel a strong need to be prepared for so many situations — perhaps I was some sort of foreign refugee in a former life. All I know is not having something I might need makes me anxious.
Ever since my children were babies and I started carrying around a twenty pound diaper bag, I’ve accumulated more stuff to lug “just in case.” With kids “just in case” happens all the time. Extra clothes if they spill or get cold…snack options if they’re hungry….wipes to clean up. It began with the basics, but once we got a minivan, the stockpiling really took off.
We travel a lot in that minivan: the beach, the city, vacation, sporting events, concerts, etc. Each time we go, I seem to stow more stuff. But I rarely remove, so the arsenal keeps growing.
My minivan is a bit like a tiny Target store. The front seats are where you would find the snacks, cleaning supplies, reading materials and health and hygiene items. Dig deep into the front bins and you might score pretzels, granola bars, fruit leathers, protein bars, raisins, and gum. Thirsty after all those snacks? How about some Gatorade or water? If you don’t mind backwash, you’re in business.
For sticky fingers, a spill, or a good cry, try my anti-bacterial wipes and tissues.
If your lips are dry, you have a choice of lip balm and two shades of gloss. There are ponytail holders and headbands for hair control and hand cream to moisturize on the go. I have Benadryl in case of allergic reactions (bees! pollen! peanut butter!) and A&D soothes minor cuts and prevents diaper rash.
I’m not done.
The second row houses toys, games, and clothing in my tiny Target. I have Matchbox cars, crayons, and Uno cards. A selection of shorts, sweatshirts, and raincoats in various sizes clutter the trunk.
In the electronics department, there’s a GPS, iPod, CD’s, and phone rechargers for devices we haven’t used in a year.
Sports enthusiasts will never be bored with the equipment in the trunk: baseball bats, mitts, and hats…two footballs and a frisbee. Fans can borrow folding chairs, an umbrella, and two outdoor blankets for watching games.
Am I nuts or do you have similar stashes in your car?
Why do we do it? For me, it’s primarily the fear of an unhappy child. The wares I’ve amassed stave off boredom, hunger, and physical discomfort. Have my children experienced these hardships? Of course! But it’s always more pleasant for mommy if I can prevent them whenever possible. Like much of my experience in parenthood, it’s organized chaos.
One of the downsides—besides you people thinking I’m a great candidate for an episode of “Hoarders,” —is that my kids have come to expect the snacks, amusement, and extra layers. Am I limiting their coping skills? The way I see it, easing their pain is really easing mine. My car coffer keeps the whining to a minimum.
When I’m in a friend’s car that’s spare and orderly with no sign of survival stuff, I wince with guilt. But I wouldn’t be comfortable feeling unprepared. What if their kids wanted to toss a football while chewing gum and listening to music? What if they were so cold, they started sneezing and fell down and scraped their elbow? That’s one less thing I have to worry about.