The Minivan Manifesto

Primary caregivers of the world, unite!

OK, I’m not going to carry the “manifesto” thing that far, but it’s about time nature’s most maligned car got a little respect.  When the subject of minivans comes up, even among parents, it’s always a matter of shame and fear.  Ugh, minivans!  Here are some actual things that people have sort-of said to me, kind of:

“I hate minivans.”

“God hates minivans.”

“God, if I ever buy a minivan, please shoot me.”

Well, first of all, God doesn’t need to shoot you.  If he ever wants to kill you for buying the wrong kind of automobile, he’ll find a more interesting way to do it – probably by having you run over by a minivan.  In fact, that would be awesome.  Maybe I’d actually believe in God if he made such effective use of irony.  That’s how Sedaris won me over.

But let’s not talk religion.  I’m writing this post so I can come out of the closet.  I own a minivan, and I love it.  You hear me, world?  I LOVE MY MINIVAN!  And I don’t care who knows it.  Why do I love my minivan?  I’ll tell you why… It’s nice.  When we were growing up, things were different.  Other than the Partridge Family, did you know anyone in the 70s or 80s whose family car wasn’t hideous and humiliating?  If your parents owned a station wagon, you have my sympathy.  No destination is so important to get to that it’s worth driving around in a wood-paneled weinermobile.  Station wagons should’ve been our punchbuggies, but when you saw one, it should’ve been a free pass to punch the driver.

Times have changed.  My minivan is roughly as opulent as Saddam’s palace – though I doubt his place had nearly as many cupholders.  Sucka!  The saleslady at the Honda dealership told me, “The Odyssey is like flying first class.”  Well, I say it’s better than that.  My Odyssey is so cool and futuristic, I call it my spaceship.  It’s the closest I’ll ever come to riding on Virgin Galactic, and you don’t have to be Lance Bass to score a seat in my ride.  Hop on in, lesser boyband members!  This is a motorcar for the masses.

It’s empowering.  I’m not a fan of the word “queer”, but I get why some gay people use it.  It’s a giant middle finger to the haters.  Well, I say we take back the minivan the way we took back “queer”.  My minivan lets people know instantly that I take the whole parenting thing seriously.  I’m not some clueless weekend dad fumbling around with his kids on the wife’s day off, putting their diapers on backwards and letting them tie plastic bags over their heads for fun.  I’m a professional, thank you very much.

You know what minivan drivers think of you when they see you squeezing your offspring into the backseat of a VW Passat?  We’re not saying to ourselves, “Wow, I really envy how they managed to hold onto their identity even after having kids.  Bravo for them!”  We’re thinking, “Hmph, amateurs!”  Seriously, parenthood is a lifestyle choice.  Commit or quit!

It’s built with parents in mind.  People always ask me how I can handle twins on my own all day while Drew’s at work.  Well, a big part of it is two little words: “automatic doors”.  It doesn’t matter that my arms are full of diaper bags, sippy cups, blankies, storybooks and the latest package to arrive from Diapers.com.  My car doors open and close with the push of a button.  And even if  my kids just stand there like doofuses while the doors are shutting, they won’t get crushed, because those suckers automatically retract, too.  There’s even a mirror above the rear-view mirror specifically for keeping an eye on back-seat shenanigans.  I’m the first one to say my kids are geniuses, but I’ll also admit that my car is smarter than all of us.  Speaking of which…

It’s good for the kids. The doorways are low so the kids can climb up easily.  The seats are fitted with car seat anchors to make attaching the restraints a little less frustrating.  And there’s plenty of space for all their junk, spare pacifiers, sweatshirts and copies of Yo Gabba Gabba books to read so they keep their yakking down while I’m driving.  It has a DVD player, too, but I haven’t had to resort to that yet.  Seriously, if the kids knew about that thing, they’d never leave the car.

The way I see it, it’s simple.  Certain cars are made for certain people.  If you’re a douchebag, you drive a BMW.  If you’re a serial killer, you drive a plain, windowless van.  And if you’re a parent, you drive a minivan.  It’s the vehicle that was made with you in mind.

And it’s queer as hell!

I see you behind me!

32 comments on “The Minivan Manifesto

  1. Jerry, I think this is one of my favorites that you have written so far…. I loved my minivan so much when I had it…the room it gave me when all the kids were small and the storage..please I had stuff places I didn’t even know I had until I got rid of it… I miss mine so much.

  2. In the 1970′s, the Messer family had a choice between a Gran Torino (Clint Eastwood would have been proud), or a giant gold Cadillac Fleetwood Broughm. I drove my little brother around in the Caddy with him joyfully doing what equates to an olympic gymnastics routine in the backseat(pre-mandatory seatbelts) although the dismounts proved challenging. A paddy wagon would have been my choice back then. Now, HAIL TO MINIVAN!!

  3. One word; sold. I was proud of our cute little Element when we first got it, stating the safety rating and other useless crap we thought would be great for having twins, but now I have minivan envy. There, I said it.

    • Funny, I didn’t know Honda put them in other vehicles. I test drove a Pilot, too, and I don’t think it had one. Truth be told, I end up using the rear-view mirror to see the kids more than the kid-view mirror.

  4. Another good thing about mini-vans is if a Gramling comes to visit you then you have more space for garage sale crap. My mother loves her Odyssey for that reason! I keep telling Amy once we have another child that she will get a mini-van, but she says she will never drive a mini-van. Personally I love the Odyssey and as a kid I always hated being so cramped in a small car, cause we never had a mini-van. Do you have the Touring edition?

    • Yeah, that’s why Gramlings don’t buy Mini Coopers, I guess. I have the Touring, and I love it. I said if I was getting a minivan that I wanted it loaded to the hilt with options. I still haven’t even figured out what some of them do, but that’s part of the fun.

  5. could be my FAVORITE post yet!!!!! And i would love a minivan–but find it hard to justify environmentally with just 1 child!!!! Your van is going to be rocking as they get older as well–all of bennet and sutton’s friends will hop in for fun!!!

  6. Hi Jerry – we bought a little SUV last year, kind of like a minivan, certainly bigger/better than anything we’ve ever had before (we have two big girls, 9 and 14). We had previously owned (all used) – a giant rusty Volvo (holes in the floor and when we got on the highway it made a sound, mysteriously, like crickets); a giant Chevy that made people in NYC flag us down thinking we were a gypsy cab; and a small Honda sedan which was great for parking in the city but had no storage space; I came home from IKEA once with a rug strapped to the top.

    I will never go back. Power to the parents, man.

  7. Pingback: Why I Love My Minivan « Truth Mama

  8. I just have to say as a straight, part-time stay at home dad of two, I recently had my minivan epiphany. We were on a trip with my wife’s sister and her family. We rented a mini van. It was comfortable, it had DVD players that worked better than any potion from Hogwarts, it could carry a ton of our crap, it was safe, AND it was getting close to 30 miles to the gallon on the freeway. That pushed me over the edge of my minivan hatred. I was converted. I then began to extrapolate. What if I pulled the back seats out, strapped my surfboard on the roof and drove to the coast for an overnighter (I live in Central Oregon). Not only would I sleep comfortably in the back, but I could eat dinner, drink good beer and watch a movie, then go surf in the morning.

    I think my next car will be a minivan… queer or not!

    If you get a chance, check out my blog at http://www.daddysday.wordpress.com.

  9. I just love this post. I should write my own shout-out to the minivan. Mine’s no where near as nice as yours (I bought the scaled down, cheaper version that’s now 8 yrs old), but I still love driving it. With or without the four kids in tow, I believe I might always be a minivan driver!

  10. I am soooo jealous! I love this post and I LOVE mini-vans!!! I agree that they’re a whole new thing now. I even have one friend who has a mini-van and NO KIDS! Her and her hubby love it. They take all the back seats out and cart around their bikes, camping gear, house remodeling stuff, etc.

    The reason I am jealous is that I want one, esp the Honda Odyssey. My wife says no. She does not say no b/c of the “old school” joking about mini-vans being lame. We all realized a good 10-15 years ago that a major page had been turned on that issue. Mini-vans are RAD! and we all know it.

    No, she knows NO! because she says we can’t afford one. We can’t afford the sticker price, we can’t afford the gas. She says NO, time and time again. I finally stopped asking.

    (Last year we needed to replace one of our cars and I almost talked her into the mini-mini-van, the Mazda 5. But no. She got us the Mazda 3 instead. Damn her!)

  11. Can you tell I am slowly navigating through your archives? Coming upon this piece was timely as we just purchased our very first minivan last week, due to the death of our trusty 13 year old two-door Ford Escort ZX2. It was time. My husband, like many a typical dad, resisted…and we spent a lot of wasted time looking at crossovers with third row seats that cost as much as a minivan but basically offered the same amount of interior room as the sedan I already drive. He eventually caved, as I knew he would, and I am pleased as punch to camouflage myself among the sea of minivans in the carpool lot. I’m working on a blog, of course, to commemorate this special milestone in my life. It is proving to take longer to craft than I had expected. I mean, I have to do my minivan justice. Because she is downright glorious in my eyes. Lead the way, O Champion of the Minivan. I will join your cause.

    • I have only come to love my minivan more since writing this post. Like your husband, I went through the “let’s just get an SUV with a 3rd row” phase. It’s not the same. Not even close. Congrats on your purchase! I will honestly be a bit sad when the kids grow up and the minivan dies, and I go back to a plain old car.

  12. Lots of people say that going shopping with kids is a frustrating experience, I often wonder if its because they are using the wrong tool for the job.

  13. I love this post! I recently gave birth to twins for two dads (who both drive/drove BMWs) and I told them throughout the pregnancy how awesome minivans are and how with 3 kids, it was going to be a must-have for them. Less than 2 weeks after the babies were born, they bought one. Since I found your blog through them, I’m wondering if you had an influence… :)

  14. Like many of the responses I have read, my husband and I swore we would not own a mini-van ever. This statement was made pre-kids and let’s face it; when you are in your late 20′s mini-vans are not that stylish and practical. We have had to recant this many times over. As your family grows and you’re trying to fit those wretched car seats in a sedan it just doesn’t work. You quickly run out of room for actual people in a sedan with car seats; until we experienced our Honda Odyssey. The space and the comfort is amazing! I love our Honda Odyssey. My husband also brags that you can fit a sheet of plywood in our Odyssey. What other car, SUV can do that? It’s so practical in so many ways. While it’s an ad for the Toyota’ Sienna Mini-van, I thought it captured how me and my husband felt about our Odyssey. It most certainly has Swagger…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiLNG153aRI

  15. I’m inheriting my grandpa’s minivan in a few months. He just got a dodge caravan thingy and I’m jealous. Truth be told though I don’t want a minivan >.<

  16. Just got a used Odyssey. I can’t stop wanting to find reasons to drive it and I hate driving. I’m so excited to have it. It will make my life so much easier. I didn’t even think about the automatic doors and how easy that will be with full hands. My biggest happiness about all of it is my daughter uses a motorized scooter to get around. I was killing my back getting it in and out of the trunk of my old Ion. Now, it’s going to be so easy to transport!! Anyway, I love my minivan and I don’t care who knows it either:)

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