There must be a lot of families with boys around here, because I keep driving by minivans with vanity plates that read "TWO BOYZ", "MY3SONS", "2GR8BOYS" and so on. On Sunday, I found myself once again stopped at a red light behind such a car. I turned to my husband and remarked that perhaps I should join this friendly contest of the vanity license plates.
"Why don't you get one that says '4GR8BOYS'?" he suggested.
"Or I could outdo all these moms and get a plate that says '5BOYS'," I muttered, mostly to myself. "You being the fifth boy, of course." In my mind, I thought: Now that would be simple and effective. Not overly braggadocious. But it would get the point across, and the point is: Muhahaha... I win!
However, after some Googling, I discovered that the DMV has a search engine that allows you to check if your desired vanity plate is available. And alas, "5BOYS" was already taken!
"Oh my goodness," I exclaimed, "I don't believe it!"
"What's going on?" my oldest son asked.
"I've got to get a picture of this!" I screamed, giddy with excitement.
I bounded outside and pulled out my cell phone to snap a photo of the license plate. My mind was whirling, and I felt a little light-headed from the euphoria of this rare sighting. I casually peered inside the car and spotted a toddler seat, booster seat, and a few toys on the floor. I considered whether to stake out the parking space to see what mother of all mothers had procured this coveted vanity plate. I wondered if I'd be able to track down this queen bee inside the store. Surely a woman with five boys buzzing around a shopping cart would not be hard to spot!
While I was still standing at the back of the minivan admiring the license plate, a woman with two boys approached the car. She was in the middle of yelling at one of the boys when I lunged toward her and cried out, "Is this your car?"
She looked startled and replied tentatively, "Yes..."
Before she could write me off as a stalker, I launched into my story. I have a vague recollection of using too many words and speaking too quickly, the way one might upon meeting a celebrity. She laughed while I rambled. After I finished, we exchanged a few stories about raising boys, and I felt as if I'd just met a kindred spirit. She understood the husband bit completely, and joked that she could buy a new plate that read "6BOYS" so that I could have hers. At the end of our conversation, she ordered her boys to help my youngest son out of the van, as if we were already old friends.
As she got into her car, she turned to me and said, "You know, when you first ran over to me, I seriously thought you were going to tell me how dirty my car is!"
By now, we already understood one another so words weren't really necessary. What mom of multiple boys has a minivan that isn't littered with empty juice boxes, week-old cracker crumbs, and a small collection of die-cast race cars?
After she drove off, I excitedly sent the photo to my husband. Still flustered from the brief encounter, I smiled to myself and loaded my four boys into one shopping cart. I can't recall having experienced many moments of serendipity like this before.
As for the vanity plate contest, I'm fresh out of ideas. Either I have to settle for some variation of "4BOYS" (which incidentally is already taken), or maybe it's time to admit defeat.