Falling asleep in the minivan Part 2: Too cold vs. Too hot

Too cold:
This is when the children fall asleep on the way home in a blizzard. It’s induced by the extraordinarily long commute where every driver ahead of, beside you and coming at you is a nimrod. In my case, I am a nimrod as well, leaving extraordinarily long gaps between me and the guy ahead of me. Sometimes this gap is so large and welcoming it prompts other drivers to pass me and set up shop there, cutting their total commute by a nanosecond but unleashing a bout of white-knuckle terror in my blue minivan as he recrosses the centerline ahead of me filling my entire windshield with slush, and the entire interior of the van with obscenities.

The children at first enjoy this hysterical pursuit of trying to find the edge of the road without going off it. But before long the general malaise of watching objectless white all around them, along with me blasting the heater at blister-inducing temps, will make them fall asleep.

After a commute home like this, you’ll say a little prayer when you reach the driveway in one piece, then curse your husband for not having cleared the driveway yet, get stuck approximately five yards from the garage, back up, gun it, narrowly miss hitting the side of the garage and finally land safely inside. You’ll hit the garage door remote and watch the door thud closed behind you. For a moment, you feel complete relief.

Then you remember your two little packages in the backseat. You have to decide if it’s too cold to let them slumber. They are, after all, outfitted in nylon sausage casing, topped with large fleece hats (the youngest wearing a hat built for a man twice his size and half his attitude). They would play in this same blizzard for at least an hour if told not to (5 minutes if told to).

They are inside their regular street clothes, which are inside their outdoor clothes, which are inside the van, which is inside the garage. They’ve got four layers going for them. They’ll doze for at least 20 minutes, which, in mom time, is one load of laundry, dinner started and email checked. In real mom time, it’s enough to rewind the taped Young & The Restless, hit the couch and eat Cheetos.

Do I leave them? Are Cheetos orange?

This little trick works best when they are old enough to wake up and let themselves out of the van and march into the house in a fury. They’ll take this opp to throw their sausage casings all over the floor, totally dismissing your “organizational” hooks (not out of spite, out of habit). They’ll waylay you for making them take a nap, as well as leaving them alone in the scary interior of their own garage. Beg off by offering them Cheetos.

Too hot:
This is nothing to joke about. It’s why I bought a minivan. The entire sides of the vehicle open, leaving a full-on gust of hot August wind blowing through it day or night. In this case, the children must be prepared beforehand should a nap come on unexpectedly. There’s nothing wrong with an outing to Walmart in their bathing suits. This will help make your decision easier when you get home and they’ve conked out in the backseat, offering you not only a few minutes of quiet, but a beautiful summer afternoon to boot. (Still on the couch watching Y&R, but beautiful nonetheless.)

The advantage of summer is that you can leave the door open to the house so you have ears on the situation. Invest in a cheap screen door leading into your garage. Thirty bucks at the nearest hardware store will provide you with good-old-fashioned spy gear for Moms, while keeping the mice out at the same time. If you have air-conditioning in your home, consider leaving the door cracked as a worthwhile stupid thing to do.

If you are feeling randy or ambitious, you might even do a little outdoor project, thereby making you look a whole lot less guilty if their grandmother, the Schwan’s man or the FedEx guy should show up and stumble upon the situation.

Anyway, don’t get too excited about this idea. Children don’t sleep in the summer unless by complete accident.