Dad, Can I Have The Car Keys

'69 Was A Good Year For Cars and people.

’69 Was A Good Year For Cars and people.

Harry Chapin is singing Cats In The Cradle and I am surprised to find myself a bit teary eyed. Life is moving at ridiculous speed and big changes are taking place all around me. Somewhere inside me the boy who was can hear Han tell Chewie to “Punch it” and it feels like it is all I can do to stay a step ahead of the Imperial destroyers that are chasing me.

That almost eleven year-old son of mine loves Star Wars too, but he has different reference points than I do. I think of the original pictures and remember Darth Vader as being among the most evil creatures around. But his exposure to Star Wars has been different. The Clone Wars are what light up his eyes and so he talks/thinks about other characters.

Truth is that I am good with that. He doesn’t have to be like me. He doesn’t need to be me. I love him regardless but it feels a bit weird not to be as familiar with the cultural reference points he thinks of.

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head and said with a smile
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?”

Moseyed on down to the LA Auto Show to see the new cars and to attend the Nintendo press conference where I got to see Reggie Fils-Aime, president and COO of Nintendo of America unveil real life creations of two cars from the Mario Kart 7 game. Yes, the Luigi Bumble V kart you see below actually runs as does the Mario Kart that was there as well.


Reggie Fils-Aime, president and COO of Nintendo of America

And had my son been able to attend I can assure you that he would asked Dad for the car keys. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to test drive either one in real life. The closest I got was a few minutes spent playing the game on the 3DS.

It is probably worth noting that was a lot closer than I got to test driving the Maybach that I saw on the floor which candidly speaking caught my eye primarily because I want to know what a car that goes for about $350k is like. Unless I win a ridiculous amount of money it is unlikely that I will ever own one but I am good with that too.

My kids can thank me later because that decision means that they’ll have a roof over their heads, food to eat and clothes on their back.  I am sort of playing around with giving one of the characters in my book a Maybach just so that he  can unroll the window and ask for Grey Poupon. If I do I am fairly certain that he’ll be one of those eccentric men who insists that his car also be able to play 8-track cassettes that he buys second hand at the Rose Bowl swap meet.

Speaking of which it is well after 1 am and in spite of the 129 ounces of coffee I drank today I am going to get some sleep….soon. But first I have to add a few more sections to the story and try to figure out how the boy I used to cradle in my arms got to be so damn big overnight…

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  1. Ben December 12, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    Sorry I missed this post a few weeks back! Good stuff! Big fan of car shows in general, but also believe they’re one of the better fun and unique family activities idea that’s equally enjoyable for child AND parent. Still working on teaching my 3yo daughter the word Ferrari…

  2. Harleena Singh November 18, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Loved the song Jack!

    I guess it relates a lot to the busy lives we parents lead. Even though we may want to spend more time with our kids, we are not able to do so, unless me make that deliberate attempt to take out that quality family time for them, which we should.

    Life passes by so quick that before we know it, our kids are grown up and leading their own lives. No one has time for anyone nowadays. And sharing or spending time with and for each other is a value that needs to be instilled in our kids, right from the start, where we as parents need to do the same by becoming their role models.

    I am sure things would make a difference, only if we try a little more.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Jack November 19, 2011 at 12:14 am

      Hi Harleena,

      It is so very hard to make time and it is not for lack of desire- but time passes too quickly not to.

      I don’t want my children to ever say that I wasn’t there for them. Those extra moments make a huge difference and help to ensure that they grow up to become better adjusted than they might otherwise.

  3. Joe November 18, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Damn you, you stole another one of my post ideas 🙂 I gotta be a little quicker on the “publish” trigger…

    Thought provoking. I have a 16YO daughter who will be asking me for the keys soon. It has gone by far too fast. And I wonder if I have done enough to bring her up the right way.

    That’s being a parent, though. There’s always a little self doubt.

    • Jack November 18, 2011 at 11:46 am


      Go write it anyway. I am sure that your take will be different than mine. Have fun with it, I’ll read it.

      I can’t imagine having a 16 year old, that has to make life really interesting.

  4. Betsy Cross November 18, 2011 at 6:25 am

    That song always gets me thinking about whether I’m really available to my kids. Of course I have my responsibilities to our stuff and the day to day chores associated with family life. But I’m doing everything I can before we move to get rid of all the things that have become an excuse not to “play catch” with my kids when they ask.
    There aught to be a family fairy assigned to you when you start having kids (or even when you just become an adult and move out on your own,that rings a bell every time you choose stuff over relationships. and even shocks you to get the message through loud and clear.
    I’m trying, Jack! Just hope it’s true that it’s never too late!

    • Jack November 18, 2011 at 10:53 am


      The only thing I am certain about is that we have to try our best. We can’t do it all and I have to imagine that 9 kids means you are always running from place to place with one or more of them.

      I remember watching my parents do the same with the 5 of us but I remember them making time for me more than I remember them not.

      So that is the goal, if they feel like we made time for them we have accomplished something important.

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