M. Giant's
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Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks


Wednesday, August 02, 2006  

Gearhead

When I was growing up, my dad could identify the year, make and model of just about any American-made car on sight from two hundred yards. For years, I assumed that this was an ability that would come to me as I approached adulthood.

It didn't.

Don't get me wrong. I can identify all sorts of cars if I'm close enough to read the nameplate (although I thought for at least a year that it was pronounced "Pry-us"). Sometimes I can even tell the year. But generally, it has to be the same year, make and model as a car that was in my or my parents' garage for at least a year, so it's far from a savant-like ability I have. Not like my dad. Or his grandson.

I don't know how he does it. For months, he's known how to go back and forth in the driveway, touching the red station wagon and saying "Daddy car," and then the gray Ion and saying "Mommy car." Of course, that's a no-brainer, considering who drives which one.

But earlier this spring, we were wondering why he would always say "Nana" whenever he spotted the green sedan parked in front of our neighbor's house. If we'd been thinking, we would have realized that he thought it was Trash's mom's car, which is roughly the same color but a different model. I think it took us so long, just because we didn't think he'd make the connection. Once we realized the truth, we wondered how he was not getting a complex over the fact that his grandma was driving all the way up from Iowa, parking in front of our house, and never coming inside to see him.

He's stopped doing that, probably because the last time Trash's mom came up, he saw both cars together and noticed the subtle differences in design. He's still not infallible, though. For instance, when Linda comes over, she parks her maroon car in the same spot across the street that Bitter parks her maroon car in when she comes over. So there's been at least one occasion when M. Small stands on the sofa looking out the window, wondering why Bitter hasn't come in to see him.

But that, too, doesn't happen often. And his eye is growing more discerning.

The neighbors a couple of houses up from us own a Saturn station wagon that is identical to mine, except that it's green. Every time M. Small would see it on one of our walks around the block, he'd point out, "Daddy car." Now he's able to spot the distinction, or at least pronounce more colors. "Daddy car, green," he observes.

And it's getting more precise. Walking back from the park one evening he spotted a maroon Buick that looks like my mom's and said, "Nana!" I agreed that it did look like Nana's car, and called my mom at home both to share the adorable story and to make sure her car hadn't been stolen. Both M. Small's birth mom and Trash's coworker Reenie drive white sedans that are all but identical to me, but M. Small can identify them both at a glance and announce the correct owner's name. Trash's sister drives a silver Saturn VUE (and probably will forever), and when M. Small saw a black one on the street, he pointed and said his auntie's name. Boy knows his cars, is what I'm saying.

I'm looking forward to when he's old enough to go to car shows with my dad. Funny how some things skip a generation.

posted by M. Giant 8:37 PM 6 comments

6 Comments:

My friend was a nanny for a toddler who moved from being able to differentiate between "car" and "truck" to actually pinpointing details, like M. Small. "Issa Audi!" or "Issa B M Dabayoo!" And our favorite, "Issa Subawoo!"

By Blogger Lady M, at August 2, 2006 at 10:58 PM  

I once was taking a two-year-old for a walk and passed some construction. "Look, Zack, a truck!" I said.

He turned around in his stroller and said, "No. That's a front-loading *backhoe*."

By Anonymous mindy, at August 3, 2006 at 7:18 AM  

The family that lives on the corner has a son who at the age of 2 could correctly identify a car, both make and model, driving down the street from about a hundred yards away. His grandfather used to take him on walks to the church parking lot across the street and tell him about all the cars parked there. It was pretty amazing to watch.

By Anonymous Rachel, at August 3, 2006 at 8:40 AM  

My son was just like the boy in the comment above this one, and we loved to show him doing his parlor trick of identifying cars. We were at a Dodge dealership one day when he was 2 and the salesman pointed to a car and asked him if he knew what it was. I'm sure he was thinking he would be told it was a red car but our son piped up and loudly declared "That a Dodge Viper!" He was right, the salesman was shocked. To bad we weren't offered a discount for it.

By Blogger Heather, at August 7, 2006 at 12:15 PM  

Picture sitting in a car with a 22 month old, no radio and her yelling cachel cachel cachel everytime she saw a green CR-V- Green Rav-4 or green suv


I know you've listened to it.
Oh it was interdispersed with

CRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKER. (CRACKER)

By Blogger Libragirl, at August 7, 2006 at 4:31 PM  

Wait, so how is it pronounced?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 11, 2006 at 9:27 PM  

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