You’re not eating that in my car!

There are very few things that happen inside my car that will cause me to immediately me pull over onto the side of the road with a cry of disgust.

Looking into my rearview mirror and catching a glimpse of one or more children, hands elbow deep in a crinkly, cellophane bag bearing bright-orange cheesy-puff powder coated snacks – you know the ones I’m talking about – tops the list.

Cheetos are discussed in “Eating During Transport: Mom Sees Everything” on page 5 of the Walker Household Guidelines to Having a Joyful & Stress-Free Childhood.

Cheetos are a banned snack item that could potentially cause a cleaning nightmare on cloth or leather upholstery, not to mention stain your hands for life. If the Cheeto offender is caught in the act of Cheeto-ing in the car, it’s an automatic demotion to a life of eating Sun-Maid boxed raisins during travels.

Am I being too harsh? Everyone has limits as to what is responsible eating in their vehicles, don’t they?

Or at least a short mental list of banned items. Right?

For me, if a food item cannot be easily vacuumed up at the car wash, it is not allowed in my car. Anything that melts, gels, stretches, sticks, or oozes is banned from transportation.

If I can’t pick it up off the floor board to feed to the birds, it is not allowed in my car.

Does that make me a monster mom?

My kids have learned to eat hot dogs without the mustard and french fries without ketchup. A loose ketchup packet in the car that is stepped on and not noticed until the end of a 98 degree day will cost $237.00 to be shampooed out.

And gum? I have very strong feelings about gum, too.

You must be old enough to control your gum in order to be a car chewer. That is to say when you speak, the gum stays inside your mouth and doesn’t drop out, falling into your sleeping brother’s hair. You must know where your gum is located at all times, and that location had better be in your mouth or in a kleenex disposed of properly.

In 2001, a child was banned from chewing gum as he used the car arm rest as a “gum stop” while he slept. He forgot about the gum, now melted, until his sister placed her hand on it a week later and attempted to rub it off.

At the time I thought maybe I was being too rough on him. But consider this: gum removal from an entire backseat will run you $473.00.

And there’s more. I extended my list after removing my child’s car seat. Add cereal, breakfast bars and fig newtons.

Now let’s discuss ice cream.

Ice cream is also a delicacy that needs to be under control while consuming. No one is immune to the perils of spillage when it comes to ice cream. Toddlers, children, and some teenagers lack the eye/licking coordination that’s involved. Grandparents, too.

Whoever invented the ice cream cone didn’t have kids.

Or maybe they just didn’t have a car.

How many times have I waited for the kids to finish up their ice cream, naively allowing them to get back into the car with only the cone left?

You think you’re in the clear from any ice cream drippings until the cone breaks into pieces with the first bite.

And that chocolate at the very bottom of the cone? It rolls onto the seat, is found melted two weeks later upon checking out at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and shows up on your credit card statement as a $73 car shampoo.

I feel justified in my demands to limit food in the back seat. And since I’ve qualified it with the cost of keeping things clean, I’ve found more support from my family.

But then the kids will discover a new flavorful delicacy and give me that look – you know that pleading look – and I cave in.

Wouldn’t you?

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