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Cleaning Out The Car

I took it upon myself to clean out the
family car yesterday. Friends who have ridden in that car recently
are even now standing up and applauding at the news; to say that it
was trashed inside would be a gross (literally) understatement. In
all honesty, I can’t recall really digging in and cleaning
out the interior since before I was pregnant. With my first child.

And as I dug through the detritus on the floor of our car, it
occurred to me that this litter was a sort of time capsule of our
lives, a fascinating cross-section that reveals way more than it
probably should about who we are and how we’ve been living
these past four years. In no particular order, here are some of the
many random items I discovered living on the floor of our car:

Baby wipes. Well this one’s
self-explanatory, thankfully, but not much help to us on a
day-to-day basis since I found the packet wedged fast behind the
mechanism that slides the front seat forward. No wonder I could
never find the $#@% wipes when I was hurtling down the highway at
fifty(ish) miles an hour with a crabby toddler covered in yogurt
griping from the backseat.

Car wipes. What, you might ask, are car wipes? They’re
special towelettes made by the car company for cleaning your
dashboard. Clearly purchased waaaaaaaaaaaaaay before kids, when we
thought spending money on crap like that was not only not crazy,
but necessary.

Four tubs of snacks. Ok, this says a little too much about both my
obsessive-compulsiveness and my absentmindedness. I always keep two
single-size snack tubs full of cinnamon soy chips in the car, for
those snack “emergencies” that arise during traffic
jams or unexpectedly long sessions of errand-running, which I think
is just good mommy sense. We’ll often crack them open if we
stop unexpectedly at the park, or if the restaurant wait is a lot
longer than we’d anticipated, or if my kids are hungry and I
need to get through my grocery shopping without them begging for
every item on the shelf. But apparently I’m so worried about
being caught snackless that I’ve double-packed the car. Oops.

Infant nail clippers. Alright, this one takes some explaining, I
grant you. We’d drive in to church on Sundays when Maddie was
a baby, and it was her only time in a car since we lived in New
York City. She’d often zonk out on the drive home, and
we’d take the opportunity to cut her nails while she was
asleep. We clearly haven’t used them in quite a while, since
they’re all dusty. It’s the sort of thing you forget
all about until you see it, and then the memories come back with
startling clarity – hovering over the car seat, willing the
clippers to operate as silently as possible, my stomach growling
with hunger as I tried to get those stupid tiny bend-y nails to
cut, already!

Two lap blankets. My good pal from high school sent both girls a
sweet personalized blanket when they were born, and those blankets
travel in the car with us. Both divas – er, girls- will
periodically request a blanket for their legs to ward off the

Mirror remote control. We used to have one of those baby mirrors
that lets your baby see you via the rear-view mirror, and it had a
musical component. Using a remote control, you could turn on
flashing lights and “under sea” music. Never could get
the thing to work well, nearly causing an accident as I tried to
point the remote over my shoulder and drive while staring in the
rearview mirror.

Double-A batteries. For the remote control.

Baby board book. For some reason, Cora went through a period of
absolutely HAVING to read a book while she waited for me to strap
her sister in. Once the car would start moving she’d be
golden, but heaven forbid she had to sit there for thirty seconds
with nothing to look at.

A clip-on lobster who plays music when you squeeze his tummy. As
part of our over-the-top new parents phase, we bought an arch to
clip onto Maddie’s car seat; it came with different animals
you could add on or take off. The key phrase being “take
off”. Maddie loved to play with them, but only removed from
the arch, and we kept a couple in the car even after the arch was
outgrown for those meltdown emergencies. Apparently the lobster is
the last of his kind, for I found no others.

Many, many fast-food receipts. Interestingly enough, the receipts
got much more numerous after we moved to Texas. Coincidence? I
think not . . .

Old beach towel. Let’s just say that it only takes having
your toddler projectile vomit all over the car as you’re
driving through Central Park to bring home the wisdom of this gem.
Beach towel stays, especially since it can function as a small
picnic blanket or even extra lap blanket in a pinch.

And what’s on my door? Hand sanitizer, extra bendy straws
(not everyone gives out bendy straws!), sunscreen (never know when
we’ll stop at a park on a whim), and plenty of napkins and

Because I can never find those stupid wipes.

In addition, of course, I came across enough goldfish to fill a new
bag, several small wrinkled things that I can only hope are dried
cranberries, and even a few lollipops I’d received years ago
and kept in the car with the naïve thought that they’d
come in handy when I had kids. As if I’d ever give a couple
cranky, whiny kids extra sugar while I’m trying to

Ah, youth.

I finally finished cleaning out the car, after filling almost an
entire trash bag, and I’m almost happy with the interior of
our auto now. But I found the excavation – er, cleaning
– so interesting that I almost kept the trash bag, just to
show the contents to my husband and reminisce a bit.

And then I came to my senses and dumped it in the trash can.

Plenty of time to make more trash- er, memories – later.


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