Life Lessons

Name That Car!

My son and I have been naming cars for years. When he was younger we would simply try to guess the make and model and sometime year of whatever car was in front of us. My dad and I used to do this when I was little and I always appreciated we had at least this one thing we could enjoy together. Over the years our little game evolved into more of a competition to see who could see the most special cars first versus who missed them because they weren’t paying enough attention. There went a Porsche…did you see that Maserati?…no way! A Tesla! What…where?

Over the last few months it has morphed into sending pics of cars we see to one another in a sort of…Ha! I got you with this one!…kind of game. Here in the middle of Michigan we don’t see too many exotic cars or even exotic wannabees like Lincoln Navigators or Cadillac Escalades – you know the kind that are mostly just lipstick and rouge versions of their more pedestrian cousins the Tahoes and Expeditions. We thought we saw a Lamborghini Countach in our Walmart parking lot about a year ago and it took a while for me to finally convince my son that it was just a kit-car made to look like the wedge-shaped icon but not the real thing. We have learned a lot together playing this little game. We have had conversations about the “haves” and “have-nots”, capitalism and the other isms, budgeting, working hard, earning a decent wage and what it takes. We have talked about why we have the cars we do and not others we don’t and how to care for what you have been given and share it even when you don’t want to. We have talked about life…and living…and loving…while playing Name That Car!

I expect I will be winning out little game before too long. There are not too many fancy cars in the good old Upper Peninsula of Michigan where he is heading. He may see a Taurus SHO or maybe even a Camaro or Mustang, but anything will little to no ground clearance will not survive the 300 inches of snow they typically get in the winter. Fancy cars in the UP are garaged, not driven except for maybe the 3 months of summer. I’m sure I will be winning! Who knows…maybe Michigan Tech will host a car show and he will see things that I would only dream to see…like a Range Rover Evoque – that would be my dream commuter car but for now my trusty F-150 will have to do!

This past January we both went to the Detroit Auto Show for the first time ever. With eyes wide and jaws dropped we wandered the concourse ogling and salivating and wondering why we had never done this before. It was an amazing experience that I was glad to share with my son. It was fun to see him wonder over engine cut-aways and upturned trucks so you could see all the detail in the under carriage that you never really see. It was amazing to see the budding mind of a Mechanical Engineer process and problem solve and postulate and plan. I don’t know where he got that gene, but it wasn’t dear old dad!

Time does indeed fly when you are having fun, and flies even faster when counting cars. Not too many years ago I was building dirt roads for Matchbox cars in the sand with him. Not too many years after he was riding a bike and then flying on a four-wheeler. Now he named his Mercury Milan “Lola” and will be heading up to the great white north to learn more than just the names of cars. He will learn about life: what is important and what is not and why; where the boundaries belong and when its ok to reach beyond them; where blessings come from and how to let them flow through you to others. A simple game of Name That Car! could be the best thing I have ever taught him…


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