The Family Car

I drive a bus. ‘They’ speak of Mom’s Taxi as if to suggest a vehicle taking in paying customers, but sadly, driving my progeny from ballet to football to eisteddfod or to the endless array of social engagements (that ‘everyone’ is attending and failure to arrive would constitute social suicide) is not a paying job.

Le Moto is a 15 year old Toyota Condor which chugs along quite merrily, thank you, despite being shamelessly neglected by pit crew other than the cursory ministering of petrol jockeys from time to time. Beauty queen she certainly ain’t anymore, having had one too many clashes with a tiresome garage door which used to stick in the winter months, not to mention learner-driver dings and too many close encounters with the grey water at my previous school. But except for a year of menopausal overheating due to a faulty radiator and a bumper which fell off twice (now mercifully secured with cable ties by a passing noble knight), she has not let us down very often. In fact she clocks up quite a speed (well, she would if the speedometer worked) and I have a growing collection of fine photographs which the traffic department keeps kindly sending me to prove it.

When I first managed to purchase my splendid silver wagon, with the help of the children’s Uncle Mark, I heaved a sigh of relief at having the five bairns strapped in and unable to impinge on one another’s personal space, or at least to be far enough away to avoid doing each other grievous bodily harm. Yet still we travelled to the mewling sounds of:

‘Mommeee, Michael’s foot is touching me!’

‘Moooom! He’s breathing too loudly,’ and other such profound discourse.

Another perennial battle is the crying of ’Shotgun’ for the seat of honour besides Mother. For a while I solved that squabble by insisting the winner had to be able to spell ‘hierarchy.’ Now it is eldest in the car. The end.

And naturally Liam (aged three) acquired a crayon to proudly scribble his name on the door; the bonnet became a victim of someone’s really horrible Technology project and sported blue paint until the recycled water used to irrigate the flowers at CBC corroded it, along with the paintwork. Shiny hubcaps bear the scars of a couple of off-road excursions over pavements (I am not renowned for careful driving, the upside of which is that no one argues about wearing seatbelts.) This tendency towards Paris-Dakar motoring has achieved a musical medley of spring sounds over speedbumps, which my family accuse me of taking too literally. They may be right, but everyone loves fairground rides, surely?

Before long of course they started turning 17 and asking to be taught to navigate the streets themselves. Now, I believe you should never teach someone this skill if you gave birth to said learner driver. They turn into sanctimonious law abiding citizens who mutter ‘Fail,’ if you so much as inch over a line at traffic lights. Everyone becomes a critic. And yet they look like chickens on Tik doing all the ‘checks’ which the K53 test requires. No, that’s why God made driving instructors. The end, seriously.

Then they want to drive your car solo. Which is okay, if you don’t watch them pull away into the mist, sans lights and if you ensure you recite maniacal religious mantras while they are gone. What I really can’t stand is getting into my car afterwards and finding the seat is either right on top of the steering wheel (Caitlin) or too far for me (Sean). Not to mention the dog hair and sea sand all over the seats after they have (kindly?) walked the Mad Lab on the beach. And what is with the cheek of changing the radio station?! My car: my music. The absolute end!

Of course they quickly find MyCiti buses a suitable alternative mode of transport again when I say the magic phrase: ‘Petrol money.’  Le Moto is a thirsty gal.

I probably should replace her soon, but that would feel like a betrayal. She’s been the soccer team bus, the friend carrier and a moving van. Like a family pet, this loyal family member has been a part of our history, our adventures and an embrace of our tears (lots of those).

But perhaps I’ll wait until Michael buys new football boots.

My next car will be an Alpha Spider.

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