I would need quite a few hands to count all the times I've heard people refer to one their prized possessions as their "baby", and I can't say that I'm not guilty of it. I've definitely let those words slip more often than I would like to admit, but, when I refer to my car as such, I think it holds more ground. At this point in my life, my car is my largest responsibility (other than myself, of course). I do what I think is in its best interest, trying to make the best choices, and I'm proud of it. If that isn't already starting to sound like a child, let me try to explore that concept in a somewhat more detailed manner.
The first thing that pops into my head is what I was trying to capture in that first image (above). When my baby gets dirty, I give it a bath. I make sure to get all the food out of its teeth when I scrub all the bugs out of the grill and intake. I wash its feet when I scrub the rims. I even make sure it smells okay. When its all clean and presentable, I show it off to everyone from friends to strangers who see us cruising along. It reflects its daddy's personality and lifestyle, and I'm very proud of it.
Sometimes, I get a feeling something is bothering my baby, but it can't talk. Usually, the gauges tell me it's just hungry and I fill it up with gas. Other times, the problem is more complicated, and I have to take it to a doctor to help me figure out what's wrong and maybe prescribe something to help make it feel better. It could be a simple sound or the way it moves, but I feel like a bad parent when things get to the point of such strong signals. I feel embarrassed, like a parent who may have unintentionally neglected some part of their baby's well-being. We get it up on the table (above), and the doctor starts to take a look. Meanwhile, I sit there and wait anxiously for the diagnosis. Usually, it just needs a little booster shot, and we top off or change all the fluids. It could also just be that my car is grumpy because it needs a diaper change, and we throw in some new filters. It could also be that my little baby feels it's losing its competitive edge against the other kids on the road, and we get it some nice new track shoes, tires if you will. When things are all said and done, we get it off the examination table, pay the bill, and we have a fun tendency to go out to eat after. Then, we go home and begin ignoring anything was ever wrong. We move on.
Another type of situation, that I tried to capture in the last image (above) , is when my baby gets physically injured. When it gets in a fight with another car or just a random object, and it shows signs of physical damage, my heart skips a beat. It's a tense moment because it feels like we are more than just connected. It's part of me, and we share our pain. When it gets hurt to that point, we go see a surgeon and get all patched up while we take a break from physical labor. I find some other means to get around while I wait patiently for my baby to heal. When I end up in the hospital, my loyal little car doesn't find someone else to care for it. It waits patiently at home, hoping for me to get better so we can get back on with our little lives. We are joined at the hip.
There are times, though, when my baby makes me so happy that my love just can't be held back. It can surprise me, and that's the great thing about kids. Yesterday, we fed it a full tank of gas in San Jose, and we didn't have to eat again until we got to the closest gas station to our house in Riverside. It was exactly 400 miles, and my excitement had been building since we passed the 350 mile mark. We had never gone over 360 miles without having to have a little snack, but I guess my baby is growing up. It's been practicing and we got all the way to 400 before the hunger light (fuel indicator shown above) lit up. I was ecstatic. I don't know how, but my baby had done something bigger and more amazing than I thought it could. I hadn't given it enough credit, and I'm not lying when I share that I immediately gave it a hug (around the steering wheel since that's the closest and most huggable part to me when I pull to a stop). It was almost primal, and I didn't expect it either. I couldn't hide my joy, and I definitely felt like a dork. I guess that happens to parents too.
So, my baby may be a little embarrassed of me sometimes, but I always want what's best for it. That's a new game we are both learning over the years. We get to make a few mistakes, and we have to work through them, but, as we look back, we focus on the positive, the fun. In the end, it says a lot about me, and I can't lie and say I don't talk about it more than some parents. It's always there for me, and I don't want to think about how sad I'll be when it has to move on, to a new owner or, worse, car heaven (the scrapyard). I don't want to start dealing with that right now, and I hope I never have to see it happen. It's a touch of Swedish rice, and some may judge us, but my car is my baby!