Our car is such a tip, which is strange, because my house is somewhat clean – I keep it that way. I wash a bazillion loads of clothes every week, I wash the floors all the time, I wipe down surfaces, and I even polish my stainless steel appliances.
So why is it that my car smells like banana, even though I can’t for the life of me find one in there; that the floor of our car is covered in millions of sultanas that could easily be taken for an invasion, that there are wrappers, tissues, sticks, rocks, dinosaurs, mandarins and other fruit-like matter, old balloons, balls, an umbrella stroller, a plastic motorbike, other people’s picnic rugs, an esky I’m too scared to open, a random backpack, crumbs, coffee cups and, for the love of God, a goddamn Chicken Crimpy biscuit sitting on the dashboard? I hate that biscuit. We don’t even eat Chicken Crimpys in our family.
I see the Chicken Crimpy every morning as I drive my kid to daycare. It annoys me, but I don’t do a thing about it. I promise myself that I will, the next time I leave my car with nothing to carry. Ha!
The Chicken Crimpy has been on the dash now for weeks… maybe months. Last week, it brought me to tears.
Someone had parked outside my house, meaning I had to park 50 metres down the street. Now, I know 50 metres isn’t much of a walk – I’m sure my son, being the size of a teenager, could probably jump it in three goes – but walking from the car to my house in work clothes and heels with a busy toddler, two bags of dairy groceries, my laptop, my backpack, my son’s backpack, Blah Blah the Rabbit, and a Big M was no easy feat. It was hard. I struggled. I held the tears back for that whole 50 metres. It took me 10 minutes to walk that small distance with the plastic bag bursting along the way, two litres of milk pouring into the gutter – milk that I needed for my son. I got to my house, dropped everything off, then walked the 50 metres back to my car, put Alfie back in his seat as he struggled and fought, and drove back to the supermarket to get more milk.
The Chicken Crimpy stared at me in the car.
This wasn’t the time to remove it. I arrived back home, this time having to park further down the street than before. My hands were full with Alfie and milk, so I couldn’t remove the Chicken Crimpy. I swear it stuck its little crimpy bit up at me.
My husband walked in from work just after Alfie had gone to bed. I’d been fighting off tears the whole time: through Alfie’s tea, his bath, and his story. As soon as I saw my husband, I sat on the ground, still in my work clothes, and cried.
He asked me: ‘What’s wrong?’
I cried: ‘It’s that f#$king Chicken Crimpy. It’s ruining me.’
My husband looked confused. ‘Why are you crying about a biscuit? Do you need me to get you a biscuit? Is that what’s wrong? Is it Tim Tam time?’
No. I didn’t have my period. No. I didn’t want a Tim Tam. No. The Chicken Crimpy represented so much more. The Chicken Crimpy represented time and how hard it sometimes is to do everything and be everything. Why do I always have to carry ALL the groceries from the car to the house? Why don’t I do this in a couple of trips? Why do I always say yes to everything and find myself over committed that I have no time to sit and fart and cut my toenails and look at YouTube? Why am I always carrying so many items that are awkward and misshapen?
So after my Chicken Crimpy meltdown, I tuned out of social media, turned off electronic devices, said yes to only two social outings for the week, caught up with my girlfriends, cut my toenails, read a book, hung out with my family without a phone stuck to my face, patted my dog, tended to my roses and cooked. It was heaven. It lasted a week.
Alfie and I were heading to Williamstown in the car. On our way to the beach to watch the boats, I stared at the Chicken Crimpy while waiting at a traffic light. I turned off at the car wash before reaching the sea and Alfie and I washed the car together. It was the best – we both got drenched by the hoses. We laughed at the vacuum sucking up the sultanas, and when we found the banana, I giggled, remembering the time I handed it to Alfie mid-car tantrum on a trip to the country.
We finished the epic car clean and continued to the beach. When we were back on the road, I smiled at the clean car, sparkling and smelling like faded banana. I parked out the front of MY HOUSE and sat in the clean car for just a few minutes. The Chicken Crimpy remained on the clean dashboard. I kept it there to remind me that every now and then, I need to stop and smell the banana.
Mums and dads, don’t forget: every now and then, stop, collaborate, and listen. Find your inner Chicken Crimpy.