Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Driving us crazy October 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:00 pm
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mini cooper, carAs the boys 18th birthday inches closer the frequency of our discussions about first cars escalates. Naturally, having twin boys, our discussions are made more complex, particularly because their current situations are so different, so we don’t even really have the option of them sharing an old bomb (god forbid!!!).

One, set to be an apprentice carpenter very soon, has his heart set on a Ute from day one, and to be honest, this seems like a practical option, as he will likely need to drive to be on-site every day, so helping him buy a car is not out of the question – especially since he will be earning money.

His twin brother on the other hand, still at school, with another year to go, also thinks he should have a car – to drive himself to school!!!!  Well, you can imagine how that conversation went down recently.  As we drove somewhere, he casually asked if I might hand over my almost 10 year old (but very good) car recently, and buy myself a new one – no reason, except so that he could have mine.  Hmmm, the conversation went something like this, quickly deteriorating:

Man-Child (MC): Can you give me this car, and buy a new one?

Mother of Man-Child (MoM): What, I don’t need a new car.  No, you’re not getting this one, it’s worth too much money for a first car.  And it’s still under lease anyway.

MC: Well, I will need a car when I turn 18.  Don’t ruin my life by not giving me one! (Insert hideous sense of entitlement by very spoiled brat).

MoM: Hmmm, so he who has NO casual job, earns no money, and lives off his parents generosity, somehow expects us to GIVE him a car, and to then PAY to fill the petrol tank each week?  Do you know how much a tank of petrol actually costs?  What about that registration sticker on the windscreen?

MC:  (Mini rant follows with various reasons why he should receive a car). You have no idea….things have changed……all my friends have cars…..I NEED a car to get to school, and home from rowing or footy……you can afford it……..I will speak to Dad.

MoM: Son, you need to understand, we are trying to teach you the value of money.  GIVING you a car teaches you nothing. We all earned money and bought our own shit heaps, not a $10-20K first car.  And we will not be giving you a car to drive to school – you can keep getting the tram next year.  Of course, you are free to drive our cars on the weekend, provided we don’t need them.

MC: Deadly silence now in car, smoke coming out his ears. Hatred for mother, who is far too pragmatic and reasonable, and tight with her money.

MoM: (As we arrive at his mate’s place and pull up behind a car with P-plates)  Is that car there the “farm-car” your friend got when he turned 18?  (Shock in voice and on face as I look at a very new looking twin cab ute and think his friend is very very lucky).

MC: Yeah, what’s wrong with that?  See, he got a good car (and of course that totally justifies why MC should also get one).

Now don’t get me wrong.  I would love to give our boys a car for their 18th birthday.  Even a car each.  But I just don’t think it will teach them much about money and how you earn it to get what you want in life.  The perfect scenario for me (not them) would be someone’s grandparent with a great old car stuck in a garage that they want $2K for, with a gazillion miles on the clock and a reliable engine.  Nothing too fancy, even better if it can’t go over 80 KMH. 🙂

So, what was the upshot of my discussions with MC you ask?  Well apparently he has spoken to Father of a Man-Child, and they have brokered a deal.  From what I can gather (having been told it’s NONE of my business), I think he’s been told he will have free access to his Father’s brand new car, thereby satisfying some of his wants and desires (and ego).  The reality is, he doesn’t need it at school, and he doesn’t need it on weekends when they are out drinking, so I’m not sure when he really will use it, but since we seem to have some peace on the car front I am not complaining.

So what are your thoughts?  Am I being a horrible parent, not buying my son/s a car when they turn 18?  Or am I right to make them understand they need to pay for it, and fund it’s running costs and maintenance?

Over the years, I have written about them driving before, including when they first got their L-Plates, and also when they decided to try joy riding!!!  Read on.


Showtime! October 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Mother of a Man-Child @ 5:23 pm
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ferris wheel, carnival rideEvery child in Melbourne would know about “the show” in September. For those not in Melbourne or Australia that’s the Royal Melbourne Show, held at the Melbourne Showgrounds of course, originally a showcase of agricultural livestock and produce, where “city families” could get a taste of country life. Most major cities and some country towns have their own version of the show, be it the Royal Easter Show in Sydney, or the Bendigo or Shepparton Show.

A peculiarly Australian tradition is the showbag, initially containing samples from various exhibiting companies, and now the mainstay of any visit to the show. Everyone would know the famous Bertie Beetle showbag for a measly $2 (it’s still available for $2 but only has about 3 Bertie Beetles in it). Now you can pick from 380 showbags ranging in price from $2 to $35+. That’s a lot of showbags!

My childhood favourite was always the Lucky Boy showbag, which probably cost $1 in my day – it was full of licorice. I am not sure my parents ever took us to the show – as they had four children, they just couldn’t afford the expense, so they would cleverly find someone who was going and ask them to buy four showbags – and we were ecstatic just with that. I know I eventually went myself with a friend in my teens, riding the famous Mad Mouse, and probably buying a showbag or two.

So why am I wandering down memory lane? Well as it transpires, Sister of a Man-Child innocently asked me about “the show” and whether or not she could go. I immediately explained a few “facts” about the show:

  1. It’s ridiculously expensive, not just to get in but for the rides ($10 a pop) and the showbags
  2. It’s very crowded being the school holidays and full of bogans with stacks of whining kids and a pram overladen with scores of showbags
  3. I have no plans in my immediate future to take you there, perhaps someone will invite you one day

I chatted to a friend shortly afterwards, who said if she took her kids one year she’d invite my daughter along – I honestly think she felt sorry for her. A few days later, my guilt kicked in. What sort of a mother deprives her child of a once in a lifetime visit to the show? How mean could I be? It’s not like we couldn’t afford it. Then, a flash of brilliance. Father of a Man-Child was taking a few days off over the holidays – perhaps he could take our daughter and a friend to the show? After carefully broaching the subject, he agreed he would happily do that, and the plans were complete, and the iphone app downloaded.

Off went Father of a Man-Child with the two girls and a backpack full of supplies to keep them watered and fed and provide the energy to traipse around the kilometres of pavilions at the showgrounds. Suffice to say the day was a huge success and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. As my husband explained, you forget how excited kids are and see the joy of the show through their eyes, not the cynical memories of their parents.

The kids loved every minute of it – the tram and train ride to the showgrounds., the farm animals – cattle the size of a family car, the baby animals – too cute rabbits and lambs, and ducklings, the Masterchef kitchen, the rides – yes expensive and some too scary for a couple of 9 year olds, the working sheepdog displays, and of course the showbags!

Apparently they thought very hard about the number of rides they would go on, versus the number of showbags they would buy. Initially my daughter, knowing me too well, had said that she was close to picking THE showbag she would buy, having studied them on the website in glorious detail. That was when I explained that she could actually have two or three – as long as they weren’t all lollies. OMG, the excitement!

So the five hour excursion to the show was a huge success. We made the day (and the school holidays) for two exhausted little girls, who now have the wonderful childhood memories of a visit to the show. My daughter has taken me personally through the exact contents of each showbag, and relived the day with me with the excited narrative only a child’s eyes can provide.

Hat tip to Father of a Man-Child for taking the girls along and dropping a couple of hundred bucks in a day! Ditto to my nanny 10 years ago who took the Men-Children to the show – I recall it cost me about the same then – plus the cost of employing her. No flies on me. 🙂

What is your favourite memory of the show? Have you taken your kids yet? Are my perceptions of the show incorrect?