It's Father's Day today. To honor the man who made us the car guys we are today, we share with you the top 10 car-related activities that help bond father-and-son (or daughter) relationships. Let us know if we missed a favorite activity or two of your old man.
1. Sitting on dad's lap in the driver's seat: One of our earliest memories about cars involves our father sitting us on his lap as he drives the family car. After all, from a child's point of view, the opportunity to do something that only adults do and yet still feel secure that dad is ready to take over in case something happens, is always special. While it's not necessarily a safe thing to do--and we don't actually condone it--it still serves as a foundation for a father to bond with his child. So, if you've got a toddler and you can find a safe-enough area to do this, put him or her on your lap and drive around the block. They'll remember it vividly for the rest of their life.
2. Imparting driving lessons: So, what's the next logical step once a boy has grown too big to sit on dad's lap behind the wheel and can finally reach the pedals with his own feet, able to comfortably look over the dash and hood without stretching his neck? Teach him how to drive, of course. Sure, it's infuriating at first when dad tells him that synchronizing his clutch-and-throttle footwork is easy, and yet the family car doesn’t seem eager to cooperate. Once the student driver does get the hang of it, however, being allowed to borrow the car becomes his greatest source of happiness. For the father, it's an immense source of pride since it's a figurative way of knowing that his baby boy is fast becoming a man.
3. Collecting die-cast toy cars: For a child, buying a die-cast toy car is like buying the real thing. Our dads amazed us with their knowledge of the cars on the shelves, telling us how the Bugatti Veyron makes 1,000hp or how the McLaren F1 is actually powered by a BMW-sourced engine. So, when we bring home our latest toy car for the week, we thank dad for it and for telling us what he knows about it, which probably turned us on to cars in the first place. If you're a dad, giving your children a die-cast toy car once in a while will definitely get them started on motoring.
4. Car-shopping: There's always a feeling of excitement when, as a kid, you know that your dad is shopping for a brand-new car. For small boys, the trip to a showroom is like a trip to a theme park. They observe how dad inspects the car--which they imitate even if they have no idea what he's really looking out for. And they look forward to the day dad finally brings home the new car. If their father is rich enough, they even look forward to him giving them their very first car. As a person grows older and becomes financially secure, he/she dreams of repaying dad by buying him a brand-new car. So, buy your father one if you can--think of it as the motoring circle of life.
5. Cleaning the car: For a child, helping to wash the car with dad seems a lot like play. After all, what child doesn't love to play with water? But as we grow older, the task becomes a tedious activity--until we learn how to drive, and borrowing the car for the weekend comes with the condition that we clean it ourselves. And that's when we become "master detailers," which we eventually apply to our own cars. How meticulously someone cares for his/her own car is usually the result of a childhood spent washing the car with dad.
6. Visiting car shows: While car shows really cater to adult males, you'll also see kids holding on to their dad's hand in the exhibit hall. After all, car shows are a great way for kids to see cars they wouldn't normally see on the road. They'll even giddily pose for photos if they spot a car that looks like the one they saw in a movie, like a Chevrolet Camaro that looks like Bumblebee from Transformers or a Volkswagen Beetle that looks like Herbie. And when they get home, the kids will recount to mom how they got to see these movie cars and their die-cast toy cars in real-life, making dad their hero for the day.
7. Fixing up the old family car: For a car guy, restoring the old family car to its former glory is a labor of love, and something anyone would like to do if his dad--his automotive mentor--were still around. So, going about to fix up the car that has brought them lots of good memories, is something that's really worthwhile. And seeing the smile on your dad's face once the car is up and running, is well worth the time, the effort and the money.
8. Reading car magazines: As we grew up and our interest in cars progressed from die-cast toy cars to the real things, dad's car magazines became our motoring bible. It doesn't matter if it's a foreign rag or "the number one automotive magazine in the country," if it had a car on the cover, we read it. And since our meager allowance probably wasn't enough for us to buy our own copy, we had to rely on dad for our monthly dose of motoring info. If you've got a boy who's showing an interest in cars, share your car magazine collection with him. Or better yet, buy him his own copy. He'll thank you later for it.
9. Talking about cars: We got to know more about cars through magazines. And thanks to the Internet and websites like "the Philippines' best online source of info on cars and the automotive industry," kids today may even be more knowledgeable about cars than their dads. As young children, we asked our father questions like what kind of car KITT was in the Knight Rider TV series. If your child asks you a car-related question, or shares with you something he found out on, say, TopGear.com.ph, put your iPad down and engage him in a lively discussion. It may seem trivial to you, but he'll definitely treasure the moment.
10. Going on road trips: Road trips are treasure troves of good memories. We may have taken some of them for granted when we were kids, but now that we're older, we remember the important details--like the music that was playing, which was often dad's choice. If your father enjoyed one particular road trip, do it again with him if he's still physically fit and able. With more paved roads in the country now than ever before, you and your dad will definitely appreciate the drive even more.
Photo by Vernon B. Sarne