Baby you can drive my car

27 Jun

Way better than softplay

Oh car, you are the object of my affection at present. Without you, I would be lost. Upon your dusty velour seats I can find the time to think again. This morning, I waited until I had a tray laden with my coffee, a magazine and some tweezers, and I walked out onto the street to greet you. I opened your creaky door and perched the baby on the driver’s seat. He couldn’t have been happier, and neither could I.

Car, you are so multifunctional that if I listed all of your uses then this would turn into a novel. I’ll start with some of your better bits: your knobs, dials and buttons are like a child’s dream. You squirt windscreen wiper fluid on cue (a mystery, since I’ve never replenished the stuff). You honk like a dream, and you’ll always be far superior to even the most high-tech kids’ sensory rooms at busy London museums. The baby never has to give up his seat to let another child have a go with the lights and the windows and the central locking device.

You are also a great soft-play lounge because you don’t smell like disinfectant and nappy bins and your generous back seat is a perfect mattress for the baby to roll about on. Your headrests have many different height variations, and provided a whole half hour of fun for the child this morning. While all of this joviality was going on, I reclined the passenger seat and closed my eyes. I listened to a piece on the radio about Nora Ephron. I thought about one of my favourite books by her, ‘Heartburn’ and was sad that yet another great person is now a ‘was’ rather than an ‘is’.

I even planned a sketchy to-do list in my head. I could have written it down on a crumpled old parking ticket on your dashboard, but I thought better of it because the thinking is always more achievable than the doing.

You’re better than the best sofa in the house and you’re more comfortable than the hard backed chairs at mother-and-toddler groups. And who gets to fall asleep at one of those “All eyes on the baby as they build yet another tower out of bricks and then knock them down” type affairs?

Without the use of your rear-view mirror, my eyebrows would be as thick as witches’ brooms by now. I took the time to comb and pluck without interruption, as the baby had moved from adjusting headrests to clicking the hazard lights on and off. I even administered drugs in you. Ok, it was only a dose of Nurofen for the baby’s teething and slight fever, but your glove compartment cup holder was a perfect resting place for the sticky bottle.

I know you’re feeling undervalued because you’re left stationary, for days at a time, on our street. You’re battery is probably a little flat from lack of movement, dear car, but please understand that the short trips to and from Brixton Lidl are only temporary – one day soon I’ll take you to Brighton, and get your battery fully charged again. The reason I’m waiting is that Cameron’s not bought the price of petrol down quite enough, and you’re a big old, uneconomical tank and you guzzle fuel. I could probably get picked up and dropped off in a swanky cab for the money it costs me to pick up the kids from school when it’s raining.

Although I’m not the kind to give you a name, I feel a certain loyalty to you, so that’s why I’m keeping you. Don’t listen to my husband rant about the cost of insurance, tax and servicing. He doesn’t understand the beauty of you. He doesn’t even drive, for heck’s sake, and when I tell him the real reason that I want to keep you, he’ll realise that my decision to save you from the scrap heap is actually a matter of wise housekeeping. It’s quite simple. You are cheaper than putting the baby into day nursery.

That is because you’ve provided me with a refuge in which to bring up our baby. Quite large chunks of child rearing can be deathly boring. This doesn’t differ from any other job really: unless you’re Ivanka Trump swooning over her new billion pound properties and accessing where to place overfed cream leather three-piece-suites, then boredom is par for the course. With kids, I thought that I’d be so busy that boredom would never come into it. And yet, it has, and it’s a very different type of boredom to anything else I’ve ever discovered. Worse than Excel spreadsheets, even.

The only way to really experience this type of tedium, if you’re not a parent, is to wait for a rainy day to borrow a child under the age of four. Shut the front door of your house and hide your purse. Do this for 5 days on the trot. On the fifth day, if not before, you’ll get it.

When it rains, it’s particularly hard to find things to do. Regardless of the toys that populate the house, my baby loves the game that involves plunging my wrapped tampons into the loo. And because the tampons belong to me, I am expected to fish them out. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to dip my hand into a clean bowl. At other times I shout “COULD THE LAST PERSON WHO USED THIS LOO PLEASE REMEMBER TO FLUSH IT. FORGET EVERYTHING I TOLD YOU ABOUT SAVING WATER.”

And even though the sun is shining today, and our car is black and has shonky air conditioning, I will not dismiss the idea of sitting, after the child has eaten lunch, for another round of passenger seat action. Cheesy as it may sound, when a child is happy, a parent is too.


One Response to “Baby you can drive my car”

  1. Dickon White June 29, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    I don’t understand the Excel spreadsheet bit

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