Monday, May 11, 2009

boys and their cars

Briar often asks me to 'play cars' with him. This question always fills me with anxiety. My attempts to do so are always very clearly awkward and incorrect. "Oh! It's easy," you smuggly say. But you must have figured out some trick, some unspoken car-playing truth that has eluded me. I think my problem is that I always make them 'talk'. My little red firetruck drives up to Briar's flame-emblazoned muscle car and says in a deep and kindly voice, "Hi. I'm a firetruck. Do you want to play with me?" "No!", Briar shreaks, "You're doing wrong!!" I feel defeated and slightly embarassed. My poor boy doesn't have a parent to play cars properly. He didn't give me any tips or assistance until the other day when my feeble attempts were again thwarted by the 'Car Master'. "JUST DRIVE!!!", he yelled. So now, I keep my vehicular conversation to myself. I. just. drive. The only sounds that escape my lips are "bbbbbbwwwwwwww". Briar is content. To me, this seems...well, boring. But I am more than happy to comply with the politically correct car rules if it keeps my boy happy and filling some need that little boys have to 'just drive'.

But I worry that my boy is missing out on some testosterone specific secret code. Something that is ingrained in their boy brains and doesn't need to be vocalized....Goodness knows that cars don't speak - Why should boys?!

Anyhow, with Briar's thrid birthday coming at the end of the month, I am struck with a fear that I am going to do it 'wrong'.

I had been thinking that I would get him a bike. He loves to ride his cousin's bike with the training wheels. He looks so proud atop this little red steed as he wobbly pedals around the driveway. I began to price out bikes thinking that if I put a few dollars away here and there, I could afford one for him. Especially, if I bought a secondhand one. I've even thought that I could put the training wheels back on Liv's little pink sparkly bike, put a few car stickers on it and we're good. Then, I saw it. A Hot Wheels bike. I am tormented and torn. Briar LOVES Hot Wheels. I hate that he is a 'brand lover' but he is....Although, I try not to be one myself, there are times that I will purchase certain brands for their quality, where they were made, or there environmental or employee practices. But he sees the little flame insignia on the bottom of a miniture car and nearly bubbles over with glee. Not for any 'politically correct reasons, just cause they're cool. "Hot Wheels, Speed fast!", he and his buddy, Brody, belt out.

I would love to provide this bit of joy for my son. Isn't this always the parent's dilemma? Can I afford it? Does it go against my feelings of consumerism? Doesn't he deserve a new bike after all his little life has held so far?

We make all the sane justifications about why we should not do certain things and then go against our own moral convictions and financial impediments in an attempt make our children smile. Before I had children, I would have scoffed at the idea of going against personal ideals to please a child. Provide what is needed. Not necessarily what would be 'wanted'. Now I just want to see grins and hear giggles of excitement.

Now I have to figure out if what I pay for a 'boys' bike in the short run would be a better investment than paying for therapy for a young man who feels angry that he had to learn to ride on a bike that says "Magical Fairies" or some equally flowery phrase....I should ask my brother. He wore our hand-me-down girl jeans unknowingly for years, until I delightly announced it to him as he entered the most awkward and self-conscious stage of his life. Early adolescence. So kind.

Should I forget the bike thing and get a kid's camera for Briar? He loves taking photos. Oh, how I wish Jeff was here to help with this decision. I can only imagine that as Briar gets older, these solo decisions regarding 'boy issues' are going to get tougher. Lord, help me.


darcie said...

My two cents on the issue is this...
Can you afford to? Jackie - you can't afford NOT to ~ Imagine the look on his face if he were to get that shiny new bike?

AND....if you go for the camera idea (which we did for our daughter) I recommend spending a teesh bit more and getting a 'real' but cheaper camera. The kid's cameras aren't cheap & don't really take decent pics...but we got our daughter the cheapo kodak 'real' camera & she LOOOVES it!
Plus, we can upload/print some of her masterpieces!

Jill said...

Get him the bike. I can't come up with any explanation that fits into sentences, but seriously, get him the bike.

And I know this wasn't your intention, but email me (jilleneab at so I can send you some moolah for that brand name bike!! You all deserve it. And, you are teaching Briar so much in the way you raise him -- he will not be ruined by a little brand name every so often.

elizabeth said...

I would say ..get him the bike..and it doesn't have to be the hot wheel could buy a bike second hand or even use the one you have..spray paint it and find a hot wheels sticker to put on it!

If you do decide on the camera..I totally agree with darcie..go for a real camera, not a child's camera..they just aren't worth it!

Anonymous said...

Hey Jackie
have you thought about the wooden no pedal bikes? Our wee boy (4) has been on a hot wheels tylpe bike with trainers for a year or so, but we got one of these wooden ones for his sister...all of a sudden he is flying with his biking, he loves going up hills (pushing with his feet) and flying down the other side. Apparently, it helps them develop excellent balance, and they mostly make a transition straight to a 2 wheeler without trainers later. You can even get policeman or firemen ones! This is the website of one I found with a quick search online - I am sure there are heaps more...
p.s. looking forward to that dress! ;-)

Hawkfeather said...

i say bike it up.

wiht a camera- well any toy- you might see him get tired of it- and the artist in me says- maybe if he were a touch older he might appreciate it more- see it develop into a real artist skill he has?

rather than just be another toy.. kwim?

Jackie i am sorry for your hurting- raising a son without his father- that is scary stuff without a doubt,
you'll learn together- teaching each other- and I bet you'll both be better people for it.

Kathryn said...

I agree with getting the bike! And I thought it was a great diea to get a second hand one and then put some Hot Wheel stickers on it. When we visited my Mom back in March she found a terrific boy's bike at the local Goodwill store for $14. My son loved it! So much that I tried to bring it home with us on the plane, but do you know they charge $200 for that? Crazy!!
Also, as you may know...I live in Germany where those "pedal-less" bikes are very very popular. Kids learn to ride them well within a week and have so much fun on them. It also perfects their balance so no need for training wheels when they upgrade to a "real" bike. Do they have those around there? They really are fun!

Oh...and the playing cars thing. I never know what to do either!! I take cues from my daughter when she plays cars with my son. Seems they have the best fun just crashing them into each other and having car races. Yet, I still feel inadequate playing cars too.

Anonymous said...

Just a little story; I was POOR when my kids were 10 and 6 ish and it was Christmas....when I say poor, I mean; how am I going to buy groceries before the next paycheck poor. A place I never expected to be poor. You get the picture.
At the time, Nintendo 64 ( I think ) was huge and of course they both wanted it..." No way...too expensive blah blah blah" They also were really hard to get; stores were limiting the quantities you could buy so these things were beyond cool. If you got one for Christmas you might as well be a rock star.

Well...I used part of my Christmas bonus and miraculously found one and bought it.
In our house Santa brings stuff unwrapped, so when both boys were in bed I put it out and went to bed myself.
At about 4 am I heard a door open and some little feet plod down the hallway.....moments later this incredibly excited voice was waking his brother; " Bubba...come see what Santa brought"...two sets of feet ran down the hall and there was a very heated discussion as to who REALLY brought the Ninendo
" It was mom"
" No way; mom would never do that; she is too HAD to be Santa"
I am so glad all these years later that I was awake to hear that incredibly cute story; I didn't tell them for years who actually bought it.
My point is; if you can in anyway scrape together and get the Hot Wheels bike it will be money well spent; you can't always get them the "brand name" but once in awhile it is complete worth it

josie said...

i cannot stand character shoes. blah, but my littlest loves Cars and has these ugly Lightning McQueen croc type shoes that he adores. seeing his happiness from those silly shoes makes it absolutely ok that he wants to wear them everywhere.

and hot wheels are fabulous :)

Anonymous said...

maybe ask on Freecycle for a camera?

Then you might be able to get him both.

Anonymous said...

I think you are so cute Jackie at playing cars.. tee hee, (sorry). Geez at least your son probably isn't wiping his wee wee with tissue after pee pee's! *smiles*