Monday, April 4, 2011

On Hot Wheels and Swiss Chard

Being the mom of two boys is a challenge sometimes.

We seem to be entering a new phase of family play in our house: the Hot Wheels Era.

Now let me preface this story by reiterating that we try really really really hard to minimize the kids’ consumerism because if we can teach them that having a bunch of stuff does not make you happy, I think we’ll be able to cross a pretty big item off our parenting list. I’m not sure that this can be done, but we are certainly giving it the ole college try.

But sometimes you just need to upgrade your toys, and hopefully our newfound fascination with neon orange tracks and tiny racecars means we can give the train tracks a rest for awhile. Hopefully. I’m so over Thomas and his cheeky little engine buddies. Also, I cannot build a decent train track to save my life and it is a humbling experience to watch Jack erect an elaborate bridge or correct my obvious and na├»ve structural errors.

And so to the toy store we went! Except that Brent was out bringing home the (veggie) bacon, so to speak, therefore the big Hot Wheels Purchase was left to yours truly. The one person in the house who has absolutely NO FREAKING CLUE about any of this racetrack business. The one person in the house who cannot successfully build a train track. But off I went with two VERY excited kids in tow.

We arrived to find a variety of options. Hot Wheels vs. Matchbox? Loops? Zip lines? Special cars for each set? Ramps? Gravity drops? I was seriously out of my element.

Brent had anticipated this exact scenario and he knew that I would be unable to complete this important transaction without some guidance and so, the night before, he and Jack had shopped online and provided me with specific instructions for the purchase.

But that set wasn’t there. Or maybe it was and I was just so overwhelmed by options or distracted by Sawyer’s repeated pressing of EVERY SINGLE noisemaking toy in the entire store. And it was dinner time. Everyone, myself included, was starting to get hungry and cranky. I started to panic! I had made it this far! We could not leave the store without our Hot Wheels.

I decided that I needed the help of a professional and so I pressed the nearest employee call button and a few moments later a bookish and slightly greasy teenaged boy arrived to assist me. I professed my Hot Wheels ignorance and relied on his expertise to guide me through what was becoming a very complicated shopping trip. Lucky for me, this kid was a self-proclaimed Hot Wheels Freak and held us captive with stories from his own childhood about rigging the gravity drop above the staircase and shooting cars out of the window and I started to glaze over while Jack stood wide eyed, completely riveted by the story. At last we broke free from that walk down memory lane and juggled boxes of tracks and loops and jumps and something called “the Blaster” while heading for the cash register. $28 later I walked out the door with two ecstatic kids and a bad feeling about my role in the assembly of this racetrack.

Because really? Sometimes I’d rather be hosting a tea party or cutting paper dolls or playing dress up or braiding hair. Sometimes I’d like to see some pink in my house and have more than two cute patterns to choose from at the fabric store.

But I don’t. And as it turned out, I had nothing to worry about with the Hot Wheels assembly- by the time I located the instructions for attaching the track pieces, Jack had already intuitively figured it out. And when Brent arrived home it was obvious that I had made the right calls at the toy store because he got right down to business turning our living room into a gigantic Hot Wheels racetrack and for a few seconds I think he forgot that these toys were for the kids.

I am, however, the one who masterminded this sweet jump off the picnic table. I am telling you, these are some epic crashes!

And yet, there are time when I wonder who will read Anne of Green Gables with me and who will cry appropriately about the significance of a dress with puffy sleeves?

These boys seem to be all boy, despite my best efforts. Sure, we bake and sew and color and I try as hard as I possibly can to include them in the things I love to do...

But when they are left to their own devices, their true colors shine through and it's clear that they would rather excavate the dirt pile and play bamboo sword fight than make fairy houses or bake pretend cupcakes.

Boys will be boys, I suppose. And so I guess I just learn to love the Hot Wheels, too.

This weekend marked the first farmers' market and I hustled down to the opening to claim my spinach and swiss chard before it all got snatched up by eager shoppers. The market is so incredibly photogenic and I wished for my camera so many times while I was shopping, but then realized that with two kids, an enormous head of chard, butter lettuce, spinach, and a loaf of seeded sourdough, I had no hands left for photography. So take my word for it.

Also not pictured, this season's first batch of swiss chard pizza. Because we ate it hot out of the oven and burned the roofs of our mouths and it never once occurred to me to stop and take a picture.


  1. i still have all my vintage hot wheel cars from the late 70s/early 80s, which was my hot wheels era. i even still have the one that my four-year-old sister tore a wheel off of and stuck up her nose. it was there for years before a doctor finally discovered it. ahh kids.. :D

  2. So, we just made your swiss chard pizza tonight and it was amazing...I think I need another piece...Will definitely be making it again soon!

  3. wheel must be good brand otherwise it is worthless and also Great post. Have a safe journey. I look forward to reading of the experienceWheels For Sale