updated 8 Sep 2012, 08:40
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Sat, Sep 08, 2012
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From girl racer to MPV driver
by Clara Chow

AH, JANUARY: The month in which Christmas slides into Chinese New Year like a melted log cake, and Yuletide jingles give way to firecracker-popping, spring-heralding traditional Mandarin ditties.

It’s also the month in which car-mad Singaporeans crowd into dealerships gradually. To chut chia (Hokkien for “register a new vehicle”) around the New Year festivities is considered auspicious indeed.

Last Saturday, the Supportive Spouse and I – with our Manic Tots in tow – found ourselves milling haplessly around some demo cars in Alexandra Road’s steel-and-glass showrooms.

With the addition of two-month-old Lucien to our family – followed rapidly by our domestic helper, Lucien’s car seat, his pram, and many jumbo packs of diapers on grocery runs – our trusty, four-year-old Japanese sedan was getting increasingly cramped.

After weeks of stacking our two kids on top of each other, and squeezing the 101 un-useless things we take with us on car trips in the crevices around five human bodies, we caved in finally and decided to go MPV (multi-purpose vehicle) shopping.

Once there, three-year-old Julian had a field day climbing in and out of back passenger seats and fiddling with on-board amenities, like tray tables, map lights and climate-control vents.

Later, as I took a boxy seven- seater model out for a test drive gingerly, he peered excitedly out of the panoramic windows while perched in his second- tier captain seat.

He declared that the car we own was now “too squeezy” for his posh, petite posterior.

We went, we saw, we discussed it to death.

For hours, after our test-drive expedition, I bored the Supportive Spouse to tears with my to-buy-or-not-to-buy soliloquys.

It’s too expensive.

But we can use the money we saved up for the kids’ college fund.

Our car is still in good condition.

But normal wear and tear will take its toll in a few years, leading to higher maintenance and repair fees.

More leg room would be nice.

But didn’t you find the engine a little sluggish?

So it went.

“I’m just saying,” I qualified at the end of my spiel with a shrug, trying to give the impression that I was not jumping to any conclusion yet, because God forbid I should make up my mind over such a major purchase.

“What does that even mean?” exclaimed the Supportive Spouse.

“It’s the most annoying thing I’ve ever heard.”

That night, I stayed up surfing car websites and forums for MPV reviews and price comparisons, getting more confused by the minute.

Then, it struck me: On some level, I was waffling because I dreaded the day I would morph into an MPV-driving soccer mum.

Since I got my driver’s licence 13 years ago, I have zipped around town in sporty sedans without giving max loads a second thought.

To trade that sassy mobility for a “people mover” mini-van – as some of these sensible, family-oriented cars are dubbed – would be yet another physical manifestation of my shift from free-and-easy single gal to pragmatic-and-boring mother.

Wait a minute, would MPV start to stand for Mum’s Perpetual Vexation in my book?

It’s funny, really, the things I am still learning to let go of, after four years of motherhood.

So, note to car salesmen out there: If you see a woman with a deer-caught-in-headlights look, mumbling worriedly to herself next to showroom MPV models, please be patient.

She’s just saying goodbye to a previous, girl-racer incarnation of herself.

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