Clair McFarland: Put Your Kids In A Car Wash

Clair McFarland writes: "My twin sons started chanting under their breath, as if to summon a troll: 'Carr-wash, carr-wash, carr-wash,' came their rhythmic spell.' 'Hey guys, what if we went through the car wash? I asked. “YEAHHH!'”

Clair McFarland

February 24, 20244 min read

Clair and the cat

I put some kids in the car wash today.

First, we wanted coffee. So I grabbed my two youngest sons (the older two are at a swim meet) and I borrowed The Husband’s best friend’s daughter, and we all went out for mochas.

It is not wise to give caffeine to 10-year-olds. Toss some frosted muffins into the mix, and you’ve got clowns on cocaine.

From the coffee shop we walked to the bookstore. And when I say “walked,” I mean we “raced flailing after a Scooby-Doo-themed mystery van that trundles around town for some reason.”

We pillaged the bookstore for “Dog Man” and sci-fi. We flailed back to the car.

“What a mess,” said I, frowning at my mud-caked car.

But that’s the way it is when you live at the end of a dirt road in Wyoming in February. From the dust I came and to the dust I shall return.

My twin sons started chanting under their breath, as if to summon a troll: 

“Carr-wash, carr-wash, carr-wash,” came their rhythmic spell.

It’s possible I have never had an original thought, and everything I’ve ever chosen has been garbled into my head via baby language, or osmosed on the persistent whispers of 10-year-olds.

“Hey guys, what if we went through the car wash?” I asked.

“YEAHHH!” came tripled shout.

We had to wait our turn.

“Just ram him,” said my little borrowed daughter, staring down the truck in the automatic wash bay ahead of us.

“You want me to ram a... F350?” I asked.

“He’s taking for-EVERRRR,” she groaned.

The children rolled down the backseat windows of my little Honda Accord and yodeled out a dirge about having to wait for the car wash.

“And it probably takes your mom this long to take a bath too!” sang Borrowed-Daughter to the F350.

“Nope, nope. Sit down. Windows up,” said I.

“But we need the windows DOWN, so we can wash off that FUNK,” said Borrowed-Daughter.

I slapped my forehead.

The twins nodded. “Such funk,” murmured the big, sweet twin, pursing his lips. 

Suddenly, a green light blazed alive, beckoning us to drive forward. And there was no going back either, because behind us sat… another F350.

We rolled into the bay. The universe grew dim. The radio station fuzzed away, leaving our four souls to plunge deeper into the belly of the whale alone.

The children rolled their windows up and said nothing – until the water guns materialized.

Then they all started screaming.

“The shields are down! Quick! Activate the quantum barrier!” screamed the little, feisty twin.

“It’s too late,” said Big-Sweet. “We’ll just have to offer a sacrifice to the Sponge of Death.”

The twins grabbed Borrowed-Daughter and hoisted her toward the sunroof, yelling “Sacrifice! Sacrifice!”

She kicked their arms and came crashing down; they all crumbled into a heap.

The spinning sponges closed in on us from both sides. Foam globs splatted onto the windshield and oozed, radioactive, under the color-changing lights.

“Ewww, it pooped on us,” said Borrowed-Daughter.

Big-Sweet patted her head. “Death sponges don’t poop.”

Another sponge descended, horizontally, from the cave’s sinuses. It paused, thought for a moment, then rocked into a full spin toward our windshield.

“AHHHH it’s the END!” screamed Little-Feisty.

“We’re toast,” agreed Big-Sweet.

“I know,” said Borrowed-Daughter. “And I just gotta say. I love you guys.”

And they squished their little brown faces together in one last side-by-side hug while the sponges devoured our Honda Accord.

Everything darkened. I drew a final breath.

But quietly, out of the void, life called.

“Please drive forward,” the voice said. “Please drive forward. Please drive forward.”

I opened my eyes. “I’m not too sure about this guys, but I think it wants me to drive forward,” I said.

Still clutching each other in the back seat, the three children nodded.

I drove forward.

Borrowed-Daughter scooted mildly back into her seat and buckled her seatbelt.

“That was fun,” she chirped. “Let’s do it again.”

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter