Oh boy, this could be a big one. If there is one love in O’s life, it’s cars.
Starting at the beginning, because it’s generally the best place to start. Like many parents we employed the tactic of strapping him in the car seat and driving around to get him to sleep when he just wouldn’t settle. I also found a handy way of getting him down for a nap during the day using Gran Turismo on my Playstation. I used to strap him in his car seat put it in B-spec mode(The management mode), prop the pad so the button to switch to rear view was pressed and leave him for a few minutes, he’d be down before the race finished and I could get to some gaming.
I bought Disney cars on a whim in 2007 or something like that, before kids when my money was my own, I had maybe watched it once or twice between then and when O watched it for the first time, needless to say I now know both films(the sequel now too) frame by frame and word to word. He loved it and we spent about 2 years if not longer, watching it at least 3 to 4 times a day, I say ‘we’, during the week I was obviously at work so missed a few of the screenings but I had seen enough, he could never get enough. Yes, plans are afoot to watch the 3rd one, he doesn’t watch it as much any more, but he still loves it.
I would say his tastes have grown up as he has, but I don’t think they have, yes he’s added Top gear to his viewing schedule and various motor racing events(R.I.P. Motors TV, you had one dedicated viewer) but frankly, if it involves cars he will watch it; Blaze and the monster machines, Tayo the little bus, nothing is off limits. It means I was able to share my love for Transformers with him, but as much as I was trying to get over to him the importance of the Dinobots being in the recent Live action films it wasn’t getting through. “They’re alright dad, but they don’t turn into cars”. The kid’s got it bad.
From early on, he has always loved playing with cars, lining them up and playing traffic jams for hours… and hours… and hours! The first Christmas after his 2nd birthday he woke up to find a brand new traffic jam, over 100 Disney cars lined up from his bedroom, down the stairs and circling the Christmas tree. Now before you all start, ‘someone’s doing alright for themselves’ let me cast your minds back to my earlier post about us being thrifty. Back in the day when I was able to spend like there was no tomorrow, I also collected G1 Transformers, all the ones I had as a kid and plenty that I never had. The best way to get them without spending every penny I had was to scour Ebay, there were always plenty of what I wanted on there, but I didn’t want to buy from those who knew what they were selling, I wanted to find the parents, clearing out their loft after the kids had moved out, getting rid of their junk that they left behind. These lots contained a lot of stuff, mostly broken but always containing one mint condition (or near enough) gem for a fraction of the price as they had no idea what they were selling. The same principle worked for Disney cars, parents ditching their children’s car collections after they had moved on to other Toys, meaning we were able to by lots containing 20 or 30 cars for a tenner rather than buying them new at a fiver each.
Anyway, once again, I’ve digressed. Along with Santa, we had presented O with a collection of 100+ Disney cars which has only grown over the years as has his collection of standard cars too and trucks.
Traffic jams and parking the cars are his favourite games, long winding snakes of cars stretch through the house, him moving the front car half an inch, then the next car, then the next and so on and so on until he reaches the last car. Then he goes back to the start, these games can last days and he never gets bored, it’s never finished until they are all parked up in their designated spaces, designated by colour obviously. Don’t ever try to clear them up before the game has been finished either, don’t ever prematurely end a game without clearance or there will be trouble. Something that depending on his mood can either be a fun game or a big mistake is taking a car away when he isn’t paying attention. There can be ten cars or hundreds of cars in his traffic jam but if you take out one, he will notice and tell you just what one it you have taken too, which as I said, can be a fun thing, can be a big mistake. If you are ever gifted the chance to play alongside him (deep joy!), remember the golden rules; Do not move a car out of turn, do not move a car unless instructed, do not park a car with the wrong colour cars, do not whizz the cars and do not do anything without permission. Follow these rules and you will have fun, I promise.
Now, real cars that is something we can’t get away from. Although Suzuki and Peugeot weren’t his first words, they might as well have been because brand names are all we hear and it feels like it’s always been that way. Some of our fondest memories are from when O was really young, he’s always been a strong talker, C is too, they were often mistaken for being older because of their level of speech, but even more fun than that was watching jaws hit the floor when he went on about cars. Think of your typical 3 year old talking about the lellow car that just went past. Now imagine him walking into a car park; there’s a Volvo, that’s a Volkswagen, that’s a Citroen, oooo look it’s a Honda. Walking to and from pre-school; we’ve had 4 Peugeots, 3 Citroens, 2 BMWs, a Mercedes and an Audi pass us on our walk. His knowledge is constantly growing, learning more and more types of car that you don’t see every day, Caterham, Maserati, Aston Martin etc. Now not only relying on the badges but identifying cars by their body shape, noticing when he sees rally car versions of a car and studying the stats closely. The last bit is probably my fault, Last year I made him a daily calendar with a different car or truck every day, which at the end of the day he could stick into his ‘book of smiles’ which was a notebook that he could stick in things that interested him. He did this with his cars, stuck them in, found out the stats and learned everything he could, now I’ve made him a month by month calendar as the day by day was a bit time consuming(it took about a year to make in total, had to switch it from a 2015 calendar to a 2016 one). The monthly one I made in A3, each page has about a dozen pictures on it, with monthly themes. I thought to pad out blank spaces with tables of stats for each of the cars. Now he cuts those out and keep them too.
Another story that made me laugh was when we were down my mum and dad’s. My dad collects bits too and has various memorabilia from films that he keeps in a glass case, including the car from Back to the Future. Just the week before he was watching one of his programmes that we recorded for him, ‘For the love of cars’ where they refurbished a DeLorean so he was pretty clued up on the car at that point. He asked my dad if he could play with the car over there, my dad not paying total attention asked which one, thinking he meant one of the many they actually had to play with. When O turned round and said it was the DeLorean he was after my dad was taken aback, he obviously was going to say no, but had to get over the fact that a 4 year old had just asked him to play with a DeLorean, not the silver car, not the funny car, but the DeLorean over there. We all had to laugh at his face.
Although we have no evidence, we believe he’s probably a pretty good driver too. He has a racing game on his tablet that goes into buying cars, upgrading components and racing that we never hear the end of, he loves it, every little thing that happens is a monumental event so we employ the nod and smile position and wait until he’s finished telling us about the upgrades he’s made to his braking system and drive shaft… have I mentioned he’s 6?
As well as that he plays Mario kart occasionally, he has a Disney cars game on the Wii too and on rare occasions he plays Burnout on my Playstation, using the motion control function as his hands are a bit too small for the controller. He’s pretty good at all of them to be fair. At Lego land he’s probably gone on the cars you can drive more times than anything else and I think the staff must have loved it when he was there, being the only child that they didn’t have to pull from a wall after they got stuck, dodging pile ups, changing direction of the child in front was out of control, refreshing to see. There was one incident when he was about 4 when this little girl kept bumping into him and cutting him up, simply because she wasn’t in control which caused him to yell out “Stop wasting my time!!” We had to have a word with him about that one, thankfully incidents like that were few and far between. He’s moved up to the ones for older children now, but I’ve never seen him on them as yet, but my wife says he’s in his element.
As you can imagine, there is no topic on cars he doesn’t love, he’s even learning about parts on the engine, no doubt he will have a hobby that involves cars and maybe we’ll get our own personal mechanic out of it.
So as you can see it’s all about cars, some children grow out of the first thing that interested them, he hasn’t and I don’t think he ever will, he’s gone from memorising a story book page by page (The story book of Disney Cars 2, a story for another day) to now slowly getting into how cars function, every day is a school day and definitely not just for him.
Oh boy, this could be a big one. If there is one love in O’s life, it’s cars.