My 5 year old races cars -- am I crazy?
Sure. He can't even ride a bicycle without training wheels yet. And his car zooms at about 25 mph surrounded by as many as seven other kids in the 8 and younger crowd.
What am I thinking?
Well, honestly, I'm thinking that he's safely buckled in, protected with a helmet, gloves, fire suit and a cage. It's probably safer than playing on the offensive line of some flag football team.
And more importantly, this is what my son loves. And aren't parents supposed to encourage their kids to try new things, learning all they can along the way so they can be their best?
Blame it on Pixar.
The movie Cars got my son fascinated with anything on wheels. The 2007 Daytona 500, complete with multicar crashes and a car crossing the finish line upside down, sealed the deal. By the time Pre-K ended, our little guy was telling anyone who listened, "I want to be a NASCAR driver."
Now, we're not a car racing family. We couldn't understand how people could spend their weekend glued to the Speed Channel. But when we saw that the Tampa Bay Quarter Midget Racing Association was giving trial runs to interested kids at Ambassador Racing School in Wimauma, we figured, Why not? Worst case scenario, we waste $20 and a 50-minute drive.
Several $50 lessons and a $3,300 used car later, we're in it. We're the sponsor, mechanic, manager and cheering squad to a 5 year old who loves to make left turns around an oval at a high rate of speed (for him, anyway).
We're all learning as we go. It's a family affair, and we're all loving it.
So, am I insane? Maybe so. But discovering new things together has been rewarding. We're not counting on our son to make it to NASCAR. But the driving has been a good confidence and character builder.
And that's what parenting is all about, after all.
-- Lyra Solochek, Times staff writer
[Photo: Solochek family photo of her son, #7, zipping around the track]