When our youngest child left for college last fall, I suggested to my wife that we could replace the old kids’ car with something “fun.”
But now that there’s someone actually interested in taking it off our hands, I’m having trouble letting go.
And I don’t even like that car.
To be fair, the kids’ car isn’t a bad car at all. It’s a 2002 Subaru Forester. My wife got it new, and drove it for 15 years, until our oldest child turned 16. It’s got heated leather seats, a moon roof, and a multi-disc CD and cassette player — because iTunes was just barely a thing when we bought that car.
But my wife rarely let me drive her car, so I never really formed a personal attachment to it.
I do, however, remember the kids’ car I shared with my siblings growing up. (It also had a cassette player.) Actually, there were two kids’ cars. The first one, I totaled in an accident, which is a story for another day.
The second was an early 1980s Buick, which replaced the first car. Shortly after we got it, the transmission started to go. You had to be patient when turning into traffic, because if you gunned the engine too hard, the transmission would slip. And at some point, reverse went out completely, so we either had to park where we could pull all the way through, or find a parking spot on a slope. As a general rule, we only drove it as far as we were comfortable walking home if it broke down.
The struts and springs that held the trunk and hood up were worn out, so there was a 2-by-2 stashed next to the spare tire to keep them open. The window control also didn’t work, so you had to open the door when you went through a toll booth, something that often made the toll booth attendant nervous.
Having an old beater of a car was probably a good thing, because the car was definitely beat on. There were parking lot donuts and attempted burnouts.
By the time my younger brother was driving it, the car was also doubling as a piece of sports equipment, namely, a soccer goal and a hockey backstop. It was also used as a stunt vehicle for his high school video class project, which also involved a stolen squirrel garden ornament. (As the youngest child, he got away with everything!)
My kids’ car has its own share of dents and dings — not all of them the kids’ fault. And at 20 years old, it certainly has its share of wear and tear. When my daughter was still driving it last year and it needed some repairs, I was definitely weighing the cost of the repair against the actual value of the car and the safety risk of not making the fix. My kids never had to ask friends to help push them out of a parking spot, but they did have to drive around with door gaskets hanging out from time to time, until I got around to reattaching them.
Still, even though the kids’ car usually just means another chore on the to-do list for me — change the oil, replace the tail light, change the brake pads — I’m a little sad to see it go. I won’t miss the car, but I do miss the kids. There’s something about hearing that car pull into the driveway and the “beep-beep” it makes when you lock that doors that lets me know everyone is home and safe.
But the kids have moved into the next phases of their lives. My son has his own car, a much newer Subaru. My daughter is living in a big city, and bought herself a bike to get around.
Now I’m on the lookout for something fun. I have visions of an old sports car, something I could fix up using the skills I picked up doing repairs on the kids’ car.
My wife was kind enough to point out that the new bike I just got should be plenty of fun. And if I need something to work on, there’s always the canoe I started 20 years ago that is still taking up half the garage.
So I guess I’ve got my “fun” planned out for the time being. And for the new owner of the kids’ old car, I hope it brings you plenty of fun, too.
Will Morrow lives in Kenai. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.