Moxie Mom On Life and Kids

MOXIE MOM on Life & Kids

Our New Rig

I have been driving around in a new (to us) vehicle that we purchased in a flurry three days before Christmas — action required when our trusty Honda Odyssey was totaled in that accident I referenced a couple posts ago.

So now I am an SUV mom, graduated from a minivan mom, because we bought a 2004 Honda Pilot. It’s the cushiest car we’ve ever owned, and we’re still in a bit of shock.

Here’s why we bought a Pilot. We test drove newer Odysseys and Siennas, and a Pilot just for kicks. The new vans, we agreed,  felt like boats. Nice, fun, and long. But an Outback was out of the question for me — too small. Our little Odyssey was a 1997 model, the smallest van on the road with a 4-cylinder engine and decent mileage but also seven seats. Decidedly smaller than the post-1999 models, it did not have sliding doors, and it functioned more like a large wagon than a van, but I could still haul four kids in the back. We had planned to drive it into the ground, to Leah’s embarrassment, and upgrade to a smaller vehicle when the kids moved out. So much for plans.

At one point, when I was talking to another (new-ish) parent about our back-and-forth process on a minivan versus a Pilot, she said she’d rather die than drive a minivan. Really? Her comment made me realize I have grown into parenthood and hauling kids and driving minivans. In fact, I am struggling mightily with the SUV image. I feel so… yuppie (does anyone use that word anymore?). Also like a piggy American who is hogging resources, at least until China takes the oil for its own middle class. And yet, it didn’t make sense for us to buy a last-century car. We had just put a couple thousand dollars into repairs, and we’d purchased two new tires just three days prior to the accident.

The long and the short of it is this: if you want more than five seats, and I did, you have to go to a 6-cylinder engine, whether a van or an SUV. So we decided to change things up and get that all-wheel drive action for snow (it’s been nice) and the higher suspension for squirrely trail heads. We’re kinda thinking with the state’s proposed budget cuts to the state parks that the roads will be deteriorating so we’re preparing just in case (or so we tell ourselves).

Here’s what we’ve concluded along the way: we know we’re not the only parents out there who haul lots of kids at times and also don’t need a V-6 engine to do it. We know if smaller vans with 4-cylinder engines came back on the market, people would buy them — we discovered a crowd of small Odyssey lovers online. So why can’t the car makers design a car that carries more than five people but gets better mileage?

We know it can be done. We were driving it. We miss it.

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Electronics Widow

We have three iPod Touch owners in our household these days. I am not one of them. And when I pick up my (paper) book to read (turning paper pages) while everyone else posting on Facebook, playing Flood, or whatever else it is they’re doing, I feel hopelessly old fashioned. And disgruntled. And worried that screen time will forever drown out books, even though everyone in our house is a good reader.

It’s not that I don’t spend time on the computer or Facebook or email — I do — but I grew up, as you surely did, in an era when you talked on the phone or you went outside or you read a book. Sure, our generation had TV. And my parents fretted about it. But according to the New York Times article, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction,” TV doesn’t have the same impact on the brain that multitasking with several technologies does. The article explores the lure of electronics, the effects on kids’ brains, and kids’ ability to focus. It’s worth reading. It’s also overwhelming. Are we raising children with brains unable to focus, concentrate, or listen? Will their adult brain capacity, like I imagine their standard of living, be lower than ours. Or just different?

When your kids are little, it’s easy to monitor what they’re doing with technology. But once they’re older, whether they own the technology or not, it’s much more difficult to know what they’re up to (and if you think you know, you might have your head in the sand) — the pull of friends’ houses, for one, or the time at home on their own while, if you’re like me, you’re grocery shopping in peace. You can bet they’re not doing their homework. Well, my daughter will be doing it. The boys I know, including mine? Not so much.

And yet, despite my Luddite sensibilities, I know the impact of not allowing your kids access to modern technology when everyone else has it.  It becomes the forbidden fruit, the reason your kid hangs out at other kids’ homes, even those kids who aren’t really friends. According to one parent I know, your kid is out of the social loop if she doesn’t own a cell phone. Not good, she says. I didn’t know.

I’m a big believer in balance, but once the technology enters your home, the slope is as slippery as they get (watch out), and despite all good intentions, your idea of balance becomes skewed indeed. Constantly tricky.

Who knew there would come a day when watching TV together would be considered quality family time? How quaint.

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