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New Parents: Say Goodbye to Your Clean Car Forever

Image source: S. Bielanko Private
Image source: S. Bielanko Private

What’s that you say?

You want to have kids AND keep a pretty clean car, huh?

Hahaha! Good luck with that one, my friend.

I mean it. I wish you well in your endeavor. Or should I say, “I wish you well in your NEW FULL-TIME JOB!” Because you’re gonna need at least 40 hours a week to keep your ride looking as nice as you used to keep it back before the rugrats arrived, trust me.

I learned that lesson the hard way. At first, I was right there with that fiction. And truth be told, when my daughter arrived six years ago, I kept up appearances for a little while. I shop vac’d hard every Saturday afternoon, crawling all over the bright blue-grey floor mats in the Honda we had purchased. I’d spray the interior down with cleansers and crook my finger down into the dark, mysterious folds of the seats making sure that there wasn’t even one single foreign object down in there.

“Only the best for my little girl!” I’d holler. Other parents would smile faintly and shake their heads, thinking: “Yeah right, buddy. Talk to us in a year or two.”

Nowadays, when it comes to keeping that same Honda clean, forget about it. There’s three kids back there now.

I don’t even try much anymore, dude.

I’m a broken man. I used to eat my lunch off the floors of my ride back before the kids arrived, just because I could.

Those days are over. Oh my God, they’re so over. Anymore, with three honey badgers riding around in the backseat,  I have three main rules for car cleanliness:

You ready?

Here they are:

1. Don’t leave puke on any upholstery or car seats for more than 12 hours on summer days.

But you’re good for up to 36 hours in winter!

2. All food crumbs need to be removed at once if they are causing my eyes to burn due to extreme rotting conditions.

If no eye burn is present, they may remain up to three years.

Addendum: food crumbs may include:

Sandwich bits, fallen chips, runaway fries, escaped mini-Kit Kats, spilled milk, Gatorade drippings, BBQ rib bones (don’t ask), flung sauces, and hard-boiled eggs jammed into cup holders (don’t ask).

3. Avoid looking closely at the seats and floor of your car; live in denial.

If mild panic or embarrassment begins to rise up in the adult chest area upon even a cursory glance at the condition of the back seat area (and it will, trust me) one must immediately resort to complete and utter denial of the situation by pretending that this is someone else’s filthy kid-infested vehicle.

Judge me. Go ahead. If it makes you feel better, judge me.

And, I know what you’re thinking: why don’t you just refuse to serve up food and drink in your car, you moron? It’s not a cross-Atlantic flight, you know?

I know. I know.

But the thing is, you see, when kids are ripping away back there at some Taco Bell or a baggie of Goldfish, then they’re also being fairly quiet.

And that’s all I want anymore. I just want a few seconds of quiet, just a wee moment or two free of tears or questions upon questions.

So I accept my fate.

My kingdom for a car.

But if a handful of french fries makes you look out the window and chew for three minutes, then so be it.

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