Friday, August 16, 2013

At the car wash, yeah

One Mother's Day when we were kids, my brother and I decided we'd wash our mom's car. We'd never washed a car before, and when you get up close and personal cars have a lot of surface area. This was a surprise to us.

My parents' house has an ancient, narrow driveway. Two cars cannot park side-to-side. Let's use a parenting analogy. Did you ever come to the critical decision of whether to buy a side-by-side or tandem double stroller? A tandem fits through narrow store aisles but is as long as a tanker truck. A side-by-side means the kids can see each other and nobody argues over who gets the front seat but the shape is all boxy. Our Mother's Day car wash was the tandem stroller. We might have needed access to the front car, but our dad's was the one in back.

This is not a great story, really. We decided we'd just wash our dad's car, too, since it was there and easier to reach, but if one car has a ton of surface area, two cars somehow have even more. We ran out of energy and enthusiasm as we finished our dad's car. We never cleaned our mom's at all. She was not impressed.

That's what I recall whenever someone suggests washing a car by hand. But recently one girl wanted to wash my car. Then the other one wanted to help. Then the boy wanted to play in the sudsy water. The lovely husband pulled up a camp chair and a paperback so he could supervise. The boy added his own camp chair. The girls cleaned my car inside and out and all I did to help was take a few photos of my little family gathered on our driveway from a second-story window.

When the car was clean, the kids played with the water and buckets and pulled out the hose and sprinklers and had themselves a fantastic water play dance party, and I had a sparkly clean car.  My parents have always told my brother and me that our responsibility is to make sure that the next generation has and does better than we had or did. So it's possible that you could attribute all my parenting success to my own shoddy behavioral track record, but you should have seen that car gleam

just in time for a road trip to New York.

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