Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

The call of the car April 11, 2014

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It sat in the driveway, dark and inviting.  Black, sleek and powerful.  Beckoning the two 18-year-old boys who lived in the house to touch it, drive it, and test its boundaries.  But alas, it was not to be.  You see, the Holden Ute (don’t ask me what model, I am female), has sat idly in our driveway for two weeks, driven by no-one.  Man-Child I was dying to get his hands on it, but without a manual licence, that wasn’t happening (you can imagine the argument about insurance, and lack thereof if the man-child is caught driving a manual car with only an automatic licence).  And Man-Child II was dying to get his actual licence, so that he could actually drive it, but took a few goes to actually get it, so the car continued to tempt him on a daily basis.

Still the small issue of a licence didn’t stop the enjoyment of the car (sorry UTE).  No sooner had the car been purchased for the tradie’s use (and fair enough too), he was surfing the net buying accessories for it.  First stop – a new muffler system!  Why you may ask?  Well, what good is a Holden Ute with a standard muffler on it, when you can have a Holden Ute with a slightly illegal muffler on it that makes a much better sound?  One that positively purrs (potentially roars) as you drive it down the street.  One that only boys can appreciate – I swear it’s just nuisance noise to girls.

Holden UteSuffice to say, the roar of the engine, as Man-Child II revved the shit out of it the other night, was enough to attract a number of young Turks to our house.  Within minutes of arriving home to find Man-Child II beneath the ute, several mates of the boys appeared in our driveway, all ogling the black Holden Ute, all sucking up the heady fumes, all wanting it to be revved harder, faster.  OMG, you have never seen anything like it – but then again, maybe you have, if you’ve ever attended the Grand Prix and watched men go nuts over cars.  It was completely amusing to me, and to Father of a Man-Child, completely normal.  Which just goes to show, it’s a boy thing!!  How many girls do you know that stand around ogling a girlfriend’s new car?  Swapping stats about fuel consumption, engine size and RPM?

You could feel the pulse of excitement in the air, the boys’ testosterone levels surging at the sheer thought of driving the car, and the thrill of the independence and freedom that having a licence and a car means for them at 18 years old.  Meanwhile I could feel the dreaded knot in the pit of my stomach, the one that knows the statistics about young males on the road, and the unmistakable facts about the way they tend to drive and what can happen as a result.

But I can’t wrap the boys up in cotton wool, anymore than I can keep them off the road.  They both have their licences, and they both have cars they can drive.   One has his ute for work, the other one is gunning to get a car during year 12 – and we are currently engaged in a battle about whether he “needs” one or not (of course he WANTS one, but that’s not the point).

We can only hope that they will be law-abiding, considerate and safe drivers.  One thing I am pretty certain of is that they won’t be drink drivers – it is so culturally ingrained into today’s youth NOT to do it, it’s brilliant.  So start your engines…….

Long before they had their licence, I was posting on this topic:

Beep Beep Learner Alert

Driving us Crazy



Driving us crazy October 18, 2013

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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.


Men-Children in Motor Cars–Yikes! August 5, 2011

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FerrariAs the boys approach their 16th birthday early next year, conversations at the dinner table have turned to their next rite of passage – the driver’s license.  Surely for a boy one of the most prized of possessions, second only to the car they both hope to own of course.

Man-Child I for years talked about the Ferrari he would own as his first car.  I for years told him I hoped that he’d be that successful one-day, but it was unlikely to be his first car.  Was that mean of me to quash his dreams and give him a dose of reality?  I didn’t do it when he was very small I promise.  At any rate hoon laws would presumably prevent it anyway.

So over the years they’ve adjusted their sights to all manner of beastly boy cars, including Holden Utes, Commodores, Subaru’s – basically any high performance car!   On occasions we have been in the car and they’ve both let out a WHAAAAWWWW in such a way I thought we were about to have an accident.  But no, it was just admiration for some passing hoon car. 🙂

The downside of being a twin, is that both will need to clock up their L-plate hours at the same time.  As I understand it, you need 120 hours practice for an automatic license, and 180 hours for a manual license.  This puts them at a distinct disadvantage to non-twins, as they can’t both drive the family car on outings simultaneously.  As an added complication, it seems Man-Child II has decided he wants his manual license (Man-Child I is happy with an auto), and somehow convinced Father of a Man-Child that buying a cheap $5,000 Jeep would be the perfect car to practice driving in!!!   Of course it could be that Father of a Man-Child was also thinking about the fun he could have over summer getting around in a Jeep (mid life crisis anyone?).

Mother of a Man-Child being the practical one of the family, said, hmmm, so you think the family are going to go out in a busted $5,000 Jeep just so you can drive us around and clock up your hours?   No probs he said, Dad and me will just do a few drives to Kangaroo Island and back (about 11 hours one way).  You do the maths – that’s QUITE A FEW drives to KI and it’s not going to happen.  His other solution was that everywhere we go we’ll take two cars – Man-Child I chauffeuring me in the much-loved automatic family wagon, Man-Child II chauffeuring his father in the manual Jeep.   Oh yeah, we’re getting even more practical now aren’t we?

I remember getting my own license.  We were very lucky to have a close family friend who offered to take me for driving practice regularly.  Do you think he knew that the worst teacher for children is their own parent when it comes to driving?  The child hates being told what they’re doing wrong, the parent is shitting themselves and seeing their life pass in front of their eyes at every intersection.  A recipe for disaster surely?  Maybe Father of a Man-Child can help them clock up the early kms, he’s less of a stress head than me.  I’ll take over when they’ve got some mileage under their belts and are more practiced.

Of course, deep down I live in fear of the day they have their license at all (as you all should!).  I am a firm believer that testosterone loaded boys should not be allowed behind the wheel of any car until they are at least 21 years old.  The statistics show I’m right.  That’s not to say my boys won’t be careful, and thankfully the laws are now so stringent I think they are inclined to be much more cautious about drink driving etc, yet the numbers still show this group are over-represented in deaths on the road.  (Sorry I’ll get off my soapbox now).

I have always maintained that I will send my boys (and in time daughter) to one of those safe driver courses once they have their license – if they’re on the road, then at least equip them with all the skills you can.  Added insurance.

So time will tell whether or not we end up with a 3rd car in the driveway.  As Man-Child II pointed out quite matter-of-factly, eventually there’ll be five cars out the front Mum, so get over it.  Good lord, Sister of a Man-Child is only seven years old – does that mean they’ll be here for another 11 years?  Just as well we went up isn’t it?