The Funniest Things Parents Find in Car Cupholders


I love a clean car. Love it. Actually, that’s not even the right terminology. I am obsessed with a clean car. That’s why having four kids is kind of a pain in the rear end for me. Four kids + my awesome SUV = pretty big mess.

Kids are the reason you will find me every single day running the shop vac through the floor boards in all three rows, quickly wiping down the leather with my trustee Armorall seat cleaner and that is why I have a personalized ‘car fun’ basket in between my oldest daughter’s booster and my middle daughter’s car seat in the third row so that they can keep their car fun in the car, but not in a way that makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry little tears of sadness.

Before you take the time out of your otherwise very busy day to point out that I have some serious issues, I know I do. I know (but I also have a really clean car, and that makes me happy).

Actually, my kids aren’t that messy. But there is one location I don’t clean out every single day, and that’s the third row cup holders. They stay clean in the front and the middle, but those back cup holders are against the walls on opposite sides of the car and the middle row bucket seats make it difficult for me to get to them (okay, I can’t see them from anywhere in the car – I can’t see the mess, it does not exist). When I do make a trip into the third row, however, to remove a car seat so someone can have a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa’s for instance, my heart beats faster. My palms sweat. My brow drips sweat.

The mess.

My kids use their third row cup holders for everything but their cups. Everything. You don’t even want to know what I’ve found in those things in the past, but I can assure you that it’s never good. Never.

Sometimes what I find in those cup holders is a relief to me. Other times, it’s sad and depressing. Sometimes it makes me so angry I want to scream. Other times, I do scream. I traded in my perfectly cool BMW for my big SUV when I found out that baby number three was also baby number four. I needed something with a third row, space for a double stroller and space for all the crap important necessities my four sweet darlings need when we are not home. I traded in my cool mom car for a really cool SUV that has made our lives so much simpler, except for the cup holders.

Melted Crayons

Apparently, my children do not feel that my car is colorful enough, so they emptied a box of crayons into the cup holders and left them there for an undetermined amount of time. And I’m not talking about crayola crayons. Every mother knows that they are the best; just as every mother knows that going to the dollar store and buying the cheap crayons is a rookie parenting mistake. My mother, teacher, mother of two and grandmother of six, has yet to learn this very important lesson and is always handing my kids new coloring books and cheap crayons.

Cheap crayons melt. In about 5.6 seconds. And that’s how my daughters turned my otherwise ‘cashmere and chocolate’ cup holders into rainbow fun.

Diamond Earrings

There was this one time I lost my diamond studs. Wait, let’s be real here; they were stolen. I did not lose them, but I was not about to tell my husband that they were missing when he makes it a habit to say things like, “I really wish you would stop taking your diamond earrings off and leaving them on the counter/dresser/whatever where the cat or a child could knock them down,” on a regular basis (so nitpicky, right?). So when they went missing and I was so positive that I’d put them into my jewelry box, I decided to keep my mouth shut and do a thorough sweep of the house.

I did not find them. So then I decided I’d give it another day while I Googled things like “How to find diamond earrings that may or may not have been sucked into a vacuum cleaner,” etc. I did not find them. Fast forward a few weeks (and a cheap pair of CZ studs I grabbed for cover) and lo and behold; my earrings are in the cup holder in the third row of my cavernous SUV. How did they get there? My kids; the little thieves. But hey; the husband never found out (read: never got to say he told me so).

Gum – chewed. This is particularly nasty since I cannot chew gum due to it giving me a headache ever since I was pregnant with my first, so I don’t own it or carry it. Where did this mysterious gum come from? And how come I had to find it with my bare hands?

Toilet paper – used. OMG.

Boogers – definitely and almost positively exactly what I picked up from in the third row cup holders with my bare fingers. Cue the unsightly gagging.

A McDonalds Happy Meal – not in the box or any containers, naturally.

300 empty McDonald’s Happy Meal toy wrappers (I really need to stop stopping there).

About $75 cash – all change missing from my handbag.

A pair of socks. Unused – thank goodness.

Gummies – not in the bag, melted, all over cup holder. Of course.

A sippy cup of old, dried, curdled milk. Really. The one time they choose to use the cup holder it’s to hoard a cup of milk? They get water 99.9% of the time when in my car and the one time they have milk they leave a cup in there? Are they trying to kill me?

Opened, half sucked lollipops


Used, bloody bandaids

My lipstick – which was used to color the wall of the car by my toddler before she decided she was done and would place the used lipstick tube in the cup holder.

Photo by Getty Images


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