Easy solution, though, right? Vacuum! Just like that!
I had to do it when it wasn't raining. And when Jack was asleep. And when either Cubby or Charlie was absent, so there wouldn't be a death-fight cage match over the vacuum cleaner.
This combination of factors was very difficult to achieve. But finally today it was sunny and dry, Jack was taking a nap, and Cubby was at the last day of his foreign language camp. Hooray! Vacuum ahoy!
What a sad life I lead.
It took longer than I thought, thanks to the sheer size of the minivan and all the innumerable cracks and creases and places for filth to accumulate. But eventually, I got it done.
When we left an hour later for Cubby's end-of-camp picnic, I reveled in my (relatively) clean vehicle. So tidy! So satisfying!
Apropros of nothing, here's a picture of Jack and my friend Alyssa's daughter at the picnic. She's exactly one month older than him, somewhat smaller, and a lot more mobile. Both adorable, though, without doubt.
When we got back in the van two hours later, the older children were covered with sand from the water play in the sandbox at the playground. Cubby announced from the way back* of my nice clean van, "Look at all the sand coming out of my sandals!"
They were also clutching popsicles, which I took from them with the promise that they could have them back in two minutes when we got home. I was trying to salvage some small bit of cleanliness from my labors, you see.
Then, when we were almost home, I turned around to talk to Charlie (A. was driving, never fear) and saw what I thought was a chunk of dirt on the floor of van. So I reached over to pick it up, and literally as my hand closed over it, I identified it.
It was poop. Excrement. Shit. Probably of the dog variety. And I had picked it up with my hand.
Luckily, it was dry. I threw it out the window and then sat there in my formerly clean minivan with shit on one hand, popsicles clutched in the other, and did the only thing I could do. I laughed until I cried.
* This is what my siblings and I always called the last row of seats. As in, "I got the way back!" as we raced toward the car, throwing elbows and scrimmaging for the most coveted seats.
P.S. For those who were wondering, my mother's surgery went well. There was actually less damage to ligaments and so forth than was anticipated, so that's a positive. She's in the pain management stage of recovery now, which is to say her leg hurts like hell and probably will for awhile. But she is, as ever, her very pleasant and optimistic self.