Illustration by David Fitzsimmons / Arizona Daily Star

Oh, hi there!

Sorry — were you expecting Minivan Momologues? Um, that’s not happening today. We’re interrupting our regularly scheduled column for a special edition of Economy Car Momologues. Not by choice.

Yup, it may be summer, but the mean streets of Tucson are still pretty mean. And on the road one steamy afternoon, making the rounds to pick up kids from camps, the ol’ minivan was the victim (my insurance company agrees) in a hit-and-run rear-ender. The passengers were all fine, and that’s the important thing. But Crystal — the questionable name bestowed upon the van by the girls four years ago; No. 3 lobbied for Silver Surfer — suffered a banged-up bumper.

The damage required us to be without Crystal for the duration of eight hours of labor, which, as anyone who’s dealt with a car-repair shop knows, could mean a few days or ... four, five months.

Me? Without the minivan? Impossible.

I drive more than anything else. In fact, why I spent 4½ years in college rather than just getting a chauffeur’s license, I do not know.

But, the repair needed to be done. So, knowing the limited options of our insurance (capped at $30 a day for a rental), I considered myself lucky when a kid on a skateboard didn’t roll up. Instead, I got the keys to a, drumroll please, Chevy Squirt.

It was so small. Roller-skate small. It was about the size of something my big ol’ family van would have pooped.

I am fairly sure we have a remote-controlled car somewhere in a toy bin bigger and with more pickup.

This was far from the accommodations to which we were all accustomed. No leather, heated seats. No built-in DVD player. No moon roof. Hey, if you’re gonna do the minivan thing, you have to do it right.

The kids, of course, thought the stripped-down mini-mobile was AWESOME.

“This car is so cool!” No. 3 shouted excitedly. “It still has that new car smell!”

Yes, I reminded him, and that is why no farting allowed. Anyway, in that tight a space, such an intestinal indiscretion could prove deadly.

But I have to say, driving around in the Squirt was kind of … liberating. It meant one less carpool: No where near enough room for the teenagers. Only the more compact, bendier 9-year-olds could squeeze into the backseat. I felt incognito on the streets. There was no minivan exterior to give away that I’m a mom to multiple children. Other drivers didn’t make automatic assumptions about my slowness and immediately pass. In the Squirt they pulled in front of me because I’m sure they were afraid the three hamsters powering the engine might pass out at any second from the heat.

Four days later, the van was back. The bumper was beautiful. Even better was that the entire interior and exterior had been meticulously cleaned, a job that had to have taken more time than the actual repair, considering what pigs my children are. Those poor repair-shop employees. I know they had to don hazmat suits and get tetanus shots before tackling that vehicle.

As someone who considers monsoon season a legitimate carwash, it should come as no surprise that at least one friend asked if I’d gotten a new car. It looked so good and shiny. And that alone was worth the $250 deductible.

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194. Dirty little parent secret: Once, the Tooth Fairy was a little short on cash and she, uh, kinda sorta recycled money from a piggy bank to pay for the lost chomper.