Last week the weather had a few days that were unseasonably warm. Warm enough that I actually sent the kids to school in their spring jackets, something that almost never happens in the middle of February. And warm enough that I decided it was time to get a car wash.
That’s something else that doesn’t happen very often. Since I quit working Matt and I have spent a lot of time searching for ways we can cut costs. For example we invested in a hair clipper which allows me to cut Matt and the boys hair myself saving us almost $50 each month. Car washes were another expense that was unnecessary. Whenever possible I get out the bucket and sponges and do the cars myself versus paying for them at the gas station.
But while the weather was unseasonably warm for the middle of winter, it definitely wasn’t warm enough for me to be lugging a bucket of soapy water and a hose around. I probably could’ve just waited until the weather got nice enough for me to be able to do it myself, but the grime and grit on my car had gotten so thick that you could no longer tell what color my car truly is.
So after picking up Kaylee from pre-school last Tuesday I decided it was time to wash all that gunk away. I knew that with the weather turning nice like it was that everyone in town would be stopping to get a car wash that day. I thought by getting mine done in the middle of the day I could avoid some of the crowd that was sure to be gathered there later on. Boy was I wrong. Even at 11:30 in the morning the line of cars leading out of the car wash was 7 deep.
No matter, I’m not in that much of a hurry. Besides, how long can it take to get through that many cars? As it turns out a really long time. Kaylee spent the time in line chatting away about everything she’d done in school, everything she could see from her perch in the backseat, and really anything else she could think of as well. I meanwhile kept up a steady conversation (whenever I could get a word in edgewise of course) about the car wash and what she could expect.
This is because the last time we went to the carwash, which would have been last spring some time, Kaylee was scared to death. I think the very first time each of my kids went through the car wash it scared them. In fact it would not surprise me if that were true for most kids. I used the same calming techniques on all three, and with the boys it worked. Kaylee not so much. I explain to the kids that the car is taking it’s bath, because ultimately that is exactly what’s happening. Once the boys understood that the car was just being hit with soap and water they were fascinated rather than scared.
For some reason I recall we ended up taking our cars to the car wash 2 or 3 times in a very short period of time, which as I said earlier is very unusual for us. But the reason I remember it so vividly is that there was no calming Kaylee down. She wouldn’t listen to reason, she wouldn’t accept that it wasn’t scary, all she would do is scream.
But that was a long time ago, and she’s grown up a lot since then so I held onto a thin hope that she might have grown out of that phase. After all back when Brendan was her age he would scream non-stop about getting his hair cut and while I swore at the time he’d never grow out of that he did (to be fair though he still hates the sensation of getting his hair cut, he’s just grown out of the screaming phase).
As the wait grew to more than 20 minutes, Kaylee’s excitement about the whole thing was starting to wear off. She complained more than once that she was hungry and wanted to go home and have her lunch. She quit noticing so many things outside of the car and focused her conversations to the mysteries of life. My favorite was when she asked, “Mommy, why does sham have poo in it’s name?” Evidently her little mind thought that shampoo was two separate words and couldn’t understand why we would wash ourselves with something that had poo in it. After all hadn’t we just spent the last 6 months explaining to her that poo was yucky and belonged in the toilet?
Finally, it was our turn. Kaylee was both anxious and excited. The time in line had been well spent and she was totally buying into the car getting a bath explanation. She leaned forward expectantly as I drove the car into the wash, and only jumped slightly at the buzzer that sounded when it was time to stop my car. I put the car into park and waited for the thing to start. First came the soap, which pattered down lightly onto the car. She watched it fill the windshield with white foam before coming around the side of the car and filling her window as well. So far so good, she was loving watching the white bubbles form.
Next the first rinse. The water started at the edge of my hood and wasn’t being shot with a whole lot of force yet. The sound was louder than that of the soap, but not by much yet. The light rinse made it’s way up the hood and onto the windshield before coming around the side. As it began to hit her window I heard a small whimper but I reminded her that it was just rinsing off the soap like I do in her bath at home and that with the windows closed the water couldn’t get her. That seemed to calm her down a bit.
A second, thicker, round of soap followed by a second rinse, this one much more forceful than the last. This time it didn’t even take until the water came around the side of the car. As soon as it hit the front of the car the sound made her practically jump out of her seat, and the closer it got to her side of the car the closer to complete panic she got. I talked to her calmly through it all and kept her from completely losing control. She gave out a strangled yelp once or twice but never gave in to full on screaming or crying. That second rinse cycle seemed to last forever.
Last came the hot wax. It pattered down onto the car like a light rain which must have sounded thunderous to Kaylee in her highly agitated stated because she jumped as though it were burning her directly. With that finished I put the car into drive and headed for the dryer. I slowed the car practically to a stop as I drove through to get the full benefit of the air. Kaylee, who had visibly relaxed when I began to drive quickly asked why I was stopping. I explained why and she calmed back down.
Car wash complete, I began the short drive to home. Kaylee let out a huge sigh and said, “I did it mommy! I didn’t cry at all!” I smiled and thought that’s right baby, no more tears. My little girl is growing up.