Keeping Mum

Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Motoring monotony

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From the "thousand ways you know you're getting old" file: How do you know you're getting old (#567)?

You buy yourself - and your brood - a seven-seater, multi-purpose vehicle.

And promptly start a steep decline into depression, or that's what you might do, if you were my husband.

The man who has never expressed any preference for any car whatsoever is suddenly moping around as if he will never own a Porsche Boxster in his life - even though he has never previously wanted to.

I guess there must be a part of a man which will always long to drive through the streets in a sleek bit of machinery. My man is familiar with a classy car thanks to having a father with an interest in such things, but has had to content himself, until today, with a dinged-up, early 90s Honda Accord.

A car so unappealing to the young and mischievous that it has, on several occasions, been the only car untouched by hoods when every single car around it has been plundered.

Which is all to say that I can't understand his mid-mid life crisis about today's purchase.

I can see why he's a little sour - the car doesn't exactly scream "I'm a young turk, on my way up in the world! Look out for me!"

More like: "I'm the bloody exhausted dad of little kids and my wife has nagged me into purchasing something she can strap a horde of ankle-biters and all their mountains of detritus into."

But it could be worse.

My own father made my sisters and I ride around in his mini-van into our teenage years.

Now we were dorky, and it was the 80s, but that was well and truly beyond the pale. We would cringe with embarrassment whenever that silly little thing would turn up, my father beeping madly on the horn.

Of course there was nothing virile about the horn either - Barbie's toy Cadillac had a louder and lower one. We'd pile in, our stocky teenage bodies expanding to fit every corner of the vehicle, which was basically a tin can on wheels and about as sturdy.

The entire thing would tip on two wheels when we took corners, and on its front when we had to break suddenly.

It's funny how having kids makes you revisit history, to some extent.

Of course I still shudder at the memory of it, but now I can see it was fuel efficient and practical. Ditto today's purchase: not beautiful, not a great drive, absolutely not anything anyone would ever covet.

But it's fuel efficient, safe, and as far as I can tell, roomy ... Which is precisely what you want when you have to ferry kids, grandparents, and the aforementioned mountains of stuff about.

Motoring guru Jeremy Clarkson summed up this particular vehicle by saying the following: "Utterly uninspiring to drive ... You can tell I'm struggling, can't you. Reviewing this car is like reviewing central Canada. How many different ways can you say there's a lot of wheat?"

Which is fair enough. But I think one of the responses to his review says it all, from the parenting point of view.

Brian, from Hartley Wintney writes: "No, this car will not give you the drive of your life, all the controls are incredibly light, however MPVs [multi purpose vehicles] are bought for kids not for adults and that's where [this car] excels ... With three kids fighting over space in the back the last thing on my mind would be timing my heel and toe ready for the apex of a corner. One day when they are busy with their own cars, sticking stripes down the sides and aircraft wings on the back I will be able to get myself a driver's car, until that day thank God for cars like [this one] that can move a family around in comfort."

Comfort, yes. Coolness, no - sorry husband dear!

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