When we bought our first brand-new car, I was very good about getting the car washed whenever I bought gas. It was easy, even when you had a little person in a car seat in the backseat – I just had to say ‘yes’ when I pumped the gas, pay at the pump, get back in the car, get into the car wash line and when it was my turn punch in my code. I could let some wonderful machine wash my car and relax at the same time – it was like a spa treatment for my car – and I reaped the relaxation benefits – at least until that one time when my oldest was a little more than a year old!
Jenny (my oldest) loved car washes – I mean she adored them! When we would drive by one, the mantra would begin – ‘Car wash Mommy! Please??? PUH-LEAZE???’ – and then tears would follow if we just kept on going. I’m not sure what she made her so happy inside the car during that short interlude – the multi-colored soap hitting the windows, watching the machine go around the car, the sensation of moving when we were sitting still, the water hitting the windows or the blower at the end of the ride? Maybe that was it – she saw this as a special amusement park ride – all for her!
During our visits to the car amusement park, Jenny was never quiet in her car seat which was in the backseat – she sang, she talked to the water, she danced – and was generally as loud as the car wash – so I should have known that something was up when I didn’t hear anything coming from behind me that fateful day.
At first I thought she had fallen asleep – she had not taken a nap that day and she may have been lulled to sleep by her favorite sounds – but then I started hearing a strange squishy sound, followed by muffled giggling. I turned quickly around, thinking that I may have left the back window open and was inadvertently drowning my baby in the car wash – okay – that idea was far-fetched – but any mother can tell you that we have these types of crazy thoughts at various times. Thoughts like – don’t run with that straw; it could put your eye out (a favorite of my husband’s mother – to which her husband had replied – ‘only if driven by a hurricane force wind!’) – yes, all mothers are crazy – and our children made us that way!
When I caught sight of my beautiful baby daughter, I was stunned to look into the face of a child who was foaming at the mouth – not because the back window had been left open, but because she had managed to grab the baby wipes out of the diaper bag and was chewing away furiously to make the same soapy bubbles she could see outside her window! She looked like a rabid baby and was enjoying every minute of it! I screeched like a madwoman, practically climbed over the back seat to grab the now-empty container of baby wipes, grabbed the wipes out of her little mouth and started reading the label furiously to make sure I hadn’t poisoned my baby – what kind of mother was I? It was bad enough that I thought I had drowned her and now I could have possibly poisoned her! What was wrong with me???? Actually, the better question should have been – what was wrong with Jenny – since she so thoroughly enjoyed the taste and bubbles of the baby wipes!
My screeching made Jenny start to wail and the tears washed away the soap on her cheeks the same way the car was being rinsed by the fresh water outside this little box of insanity. I finally calmed Jenny down, calmed myself down and read the label of the baby wipes – which assured me that Jenny was not poisoned and that I would not be arrested.
If someone had been standing outside the car wash to take pictures of the inhabitants of each vehicle, much as they do on the regular amusement rides such as the roller coaster, it would have been a picture of hysteria – crying, soapy and disheveled – and I’m not talking about Jenny!