Ten days ago, my father in law astutely observed that our car’s NCT* was out of date. By three whole months no less, an amount of time that would definitely get you penalty points attached to your licence were it observed by the right people. Not noticing things like that is not at all like me and I spent the best part of two days on the phone looking for a cancellation appointment to get our jalopy tested – they’re booked up until mid August mostly, including the 3am on a Sunday morning appointments which are now, apparently, a thing.
We got one last Thursday evening and lo and behold it failed the test sending me in to a further tailspin. It was something minor but one that necessitated a trip to the garage. I made that trip this morning with the younger son in tow. I spoke the nice service person while trying to stop the boy body-slamming into boxfresh gleaming SUVs. Off we went to the nearby shopping centre to wait it out. Fine, says I to myself, I’ve a few things I could do with getting here. But it’s 830am, and nowhere opens before 930am on a Monday but Starbucks. In we go, where he bounds around reasonably safely while I imbibe a coffee the size of my head.
Suitably caffeinated I decide to see if I can get the boys a couple of new tshirts in the sale when the shops finally open. While dragging Ted away from a novelty Spiderman wetsuit I get the call. Yesss I think. The car is ready. Oh no. It’s not. The part that needed adjusting cannot be further adjusted and needs replacing. And they don’t have the part. But they will have it tomorrow and I can’t drive my car home as it is. I’m not confident about the claim of a speedy repair: This is the same garage that had our car for six weeks last year, waiting on parts from Germany. After a longish silence, he offers me a courtesy car. That’ll do nicely I think and head back to pick it up.
Back in the showroom, after calling every broker in Ireland to work out who our car insurance is with, we get it switched over to the new car. And it is new, a 151 model with about 200km on the clock. It’s tiny, and low spec but that’s ok. The boy decides what isn’t ok is me taking half an hour to successfully transfer the two child seats from one car to another. When we chose to keep the kids extended rear-facing, I didn’t factor in this particular scenario. Dominic’s high back booster pops in no problem. Teddy’s on the other hand nearly breaks me: the tether straps that I have never moved from our car, the pressure in the form of a screaming almost-three year old. And the absolute certainty that someone in the building is watching me huff and puff and curse on CCTV.
Eventually we’re ready to hit the road. I squish the stroller sideways into the hatchback’s boot (you’d fit about six strollers lengthways in the oversized boot of our saloon) and sweating and red-faced I return our keys to the reception. Ooh. It is nice to drive a new car so it is. Sure, the windows may roll down manually in the back and there’s no air conditioning but it seems even basic models have fancy displays that tell you all about your fuel economy and such like. And it has bluetooth, and takes SD cards and all the things our eight year old model could but dream of.
Ah balls. There’s about three miserly drops of petrol in the tank. I divert to a garage and stick a tenner of petrol in and I can tell you this much now – I’m driving round in circles on their forecourt tomorrow until every bit of it is gone.
We get home. The toddler has wet himself. Fifteen minutes to school pick up. Getting the child in and out and cleaned up and fed and back in the car goes as well as expected.
Off we go to school. I park about four metres ahead of the car behind me because I forget I’m in a hatchback. Never mind I think, while we wait in the schoolyard, we’ll get through this week. We’ve got our health and a car to get us by and the younger is in montessori the next couple of mornings. Load of time for lists, and NCT retests and the like.
The older boy trots out to me. I drink him in; his little face under a mop of hair, his gangly body, his whole self having just completed his last ever Monday in Junior Infants. I’ll make sure to appreciate this week before school’s out. Get lots done so I will, prepare for our holidays and plan my weeks at home with them…
We walk in the front door chatting about lunch and new car smells (agreeing it’s very pleasant). I ruffle his hair, suddenly spotting a cluster of blisters behind his ear. I lift his t-shirt to check his torso. He has chicken pox. I cry.
*National Car Test – a car roadworthiness test in Ireland.