Tag Archives: Lightning McQueen

Talking Toys

19 May

The day before yesterday, I felt like buying presents for the kids. It’s not Christmas, it’s not anyone’s birthday, it was just a day when I wanted to pull out surprises for the kids when I got home and see their faces exploding with smiles.

Getting presents for James is easy. There’s just one general guideline to follow: if it has wheels, he’ll love it. When he was younger, it was Thomas the Train. Then it was Hotwheels. And for the last year or so, it’s been Disney’s Cars. The kid has about twenty Lightning McQueens and fifteen Maters, plus a Sally, a Sheriff, a Red The Fire Truck, a Doc Hudson, and all of the other characters, and it’s still not enough. The Cars obsession showed signs of starting to flag a little, but that was before the preview for Cars 2 came out.

And now the toy stores have come out with a whole new line of Cars 2 products. And so I headed straight for the display and picked out a Lightning McQueen (yes, another one) and a Mater (yes, another one). These aren’t just any Lightning and Mater, though. Some previous iterations have had features like the ability to light up or make vroom-vroom noises. These new ones do all of that AND talk!

Buying presents for George is more of a challenge. He doesn’t play with toys in the same way that other kids do. He’s into more cerebral stuff that lets him work with words or numbers, but there are only so many alphabetic fridge magnets and alphanumeric toys that you can buy for one child. The only toy toys that he really likes are Lego blocks and Mr. Potato Head. And again, he has so much of that stuff that buying more would seem like overkill. I mean, his Mr. Potato Head collection fills three large boxes.

But still, there’s always hope that Hasbro has come up with a new Mr. Potato Head character to add to Indiana Jones Taters of the Lost Ark, Darth Tater, and all the rest of them. So I headed over to the Mr. Potato Head section, and to my utter astonishment, I struck gold.

A talking Mr. Potato Head.

This thing is super-cool. You don’t even have to press any buttons to make him talk. He’s equipped with a built-in microphone that picks up on conversation and noises in the room, and he talks back. His repertoire of things to say is surprisingly extensive. An added feature is that when the room is silent, he will say things like, “Can I get some attention around here?” And if you make a sudden loud noise like banging on the table or clapping your hands, Mr. Potato Head’s pieces come flying off.

It’s a fun, fun toy. A bit challenging to have in the room when you’re trying to watch TV because it keeps providing a running commentary, but that’s a minor detail to live with. What’s really fantastic about it is how much George loves it. Getting him a toy that he instantly engages with and has fun with is such a rare experience, and we savour it.

In the meantime, James has fallen in love with his talking Cars cars. He gets them to have conversations with each other (they too, have a decent repertoire).

So things are peaceful in my house right now, with the kids each having cool new toys to play with.

And because of the nature of the toys involved, things are very, very talkative.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kiraca/5651863946)

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James, Trains And Automobiles

8 Apr

From the time he was a baby, James loved trains. Loved, loved, loved them. In fact, potty-training him turned out to be quite an expensive endeavour, because his rewards were trains. Not just any trains – they had to be Thomas the Train trains. I suspect that James drew out his potty-training for long enough to collect most of the Thomas the Train characters. He even got a Sir Topham Hat (who, if I’m to be honest, creeps me out just a little – I mean, he looks like an adult baby, reminiscent of Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movie).

Then, about two years ago, James was given a DVD of the movie Cars, and just like that, the trains became second-class citizens in his toybox. Now it was all about Lightning McQueen, Mater, Doc Hudson, and all the rest of them. No creepy human characters in this lot – the Cars cars inhabit a world consisting solely of cars, trucks, and helicopters.

The movie is actually quite cool. It has a bit of everything: action, suspense, comedy, and a moral message. It even has those essential elements: a car chase and a love interest.

Since he first saw the movie, James has built up a staggering collection of Cars stuff. He has more Lightning McQueens than I could possibly count, as well as at least one of all of the other characters. He’s got race tracks, ramps, tipping tractors (tractor-tipping is like cow-tipping – don’t even ask), and several Radiator Springs buildings. He has a Firetruck Mater, Monster Truck Mater, Bulldozer Fighter Mater, and some good old plain Maters. His toothbrush, shoes, and backpack all feature Lightning McQueen. He’s got books, puzzles, and the Mater’s Tall Tales DVD.

Our household has probably singlehandedly kept the Disney Cars industry alive.

And now a sequel to Cars is coming out soon. In this one, Lightning McQueen competes in an international Grand Prix, and Mater gets sucked into an espionage situation (to get an idea of the incongruity of this, picture Mr. Bean trying to be James Bond).

James is dead-keen to see the movie, and not on some lame-ass TV screen. He wants the real-deal, big-screen movie theatre. And that is why his very first trip to the cinema is in his very near future.

Today, some exciting news came my way. News that will make James a very happy little boy indeed. This weekend, Lightning McQueen and Mater are in Toronto. They will be setting up camp in one of the larger shopping malls, and making themselves available for their adoring fans.

It is going to be crowded. There will be hundreds of screaming kids running around like lunatics, and hundreds of sobbing parents running after them, trying to contain them. Do I really want to put myself through that kind of stress?

Damned right I do. Seeing the look of joy on my child’s face as he beholds his Cars heroes will make it all worthwhile.

(Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beaub/5159613205)

The Parent Who Disappointed

31 Jan

This weekend I had the dubious distinction of being The Parent Who Disappoints.  It’s not a nice feeling, I tell ya.  In fact, it’s downright awful.  I feel like someone’s reached down into my throat and twisted my heart around when I see my five-year-old son standing in front of me with fat tears rolling down his cheeks because of something I’ve done.  Or in this case, failed to do.

James was supposed to go to a birthday party on Saturday afternoon.  The party was being held for a little girl who goes to school and daycare with him.  She is a really, really lovely child with equally lovely parents.  James was excited about going to the party, but the catch was that I would have had to stay at the party with him. He’s not ready to be left without either of his parents at an unfamiliar house (and frankly, I’m not ready for it either).

It’s not that I mind staying at these parties.  In fact, I kind of enjoy sitting there chatting with the other parents while our kids run around and play.

On Saturday, though, I was sick. I was streaming with a cold, using up Kleenexes at the speed of sound, inhaling cough drops like they were Smarties, and feeling as if my head was about to explode.  And by Saturday afternoon I had started developing pink-eye, and my eyes were oozing in a very unsavoury manner.

Would you have wanted me hanging out in a house full of moms and kids in that condition? Would you have even wanted me driving in that condition, with my eyes pretty much sealed shut with gunk?

Gerard was not able to go, because he had an appointment with a client at work.

Gerard’s mom, the only other possible candidate, was at a funeral.

It fell to me, in my sick, dreary state, to break the news to James that I would not be able to take him to the party. James was not angry, and he did not throw a tantrum.  He just started weeping in a very, very sad way.

Now, in addition to being as sick as a dog, I felt like a piece of crap parent. I felt so sad for my little guy that I started to weep myself.

Just in case you were wondering: crying when you have pink-eye is not a good idea.

I apologized over and over to James.  I explained to him the dual problems of putting everyone at risk of illness and not actually being fit to drive.  Later, he assured me that he understood and that he didn’t hate me.  But still.  I felt horrible for disappointing my baby.

I asked him what I could do to make it up to him, and he said he’d like a birthday party of his own.  This works for me – I have plans to throw him a party anyway – but his answer has prompted me to step it up a notch, to make a supreme effort to provide him with a special day. He wants to have his party at an indoor playground, and he wants a Lightning McQueen cake.  I’ll provide him with a Lightning McQueen cake if I have to go all the way to Radiator Springs to get it.

James misses out on a lot. It must be tough for him, being the brother of a child with autism, and the son of a Mom who gets sick at just the wrong time.

The least I can do is give him a day that he can call his own, where he will be the centre of attention.