As 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.