We had two cars, an old battered (my fault) ford galaxy, better known as Bertie (the big red bus), and a little burgundy A class merc called Ruby. Personalising the cars happened when we got Ruby, she was my mum's car, she is also ill and can no longer drive, so my father gave her to us. At the time Kevin needed the big car for his work and i also needed a car for work. Ruby was a real help in our lives. Ruby was always my car, but after my unfortunate incident in the multi storey car park, i was relegated to driving Bertie.
One day after Kevin's death we were coming back from somewhere, in Ruby, when Dennis made some comment, i can't even remember what it was, but he was talking about Bertie. I casually mentioned that we would be selling Bertie, as we didn't need two cars any more. Up until that point, he had been a very brave boy and was going really well (too well, in fact). I was not prepared for the reaction i got. He was really angry at the decision to sell the big car. I explained that we didn't need and couldn't afford two cars. "but daddy paid for that car, its ours!" He went running down the road in his socks, he was screaming "you can't sell Bertie!"
I went after him, picked him up, he was clinging to the car and crying. Stupidly, i said "well technically, we didn't pay for it, daddy's brother lent us the money." The menace was insistent "Is he making you sell Bertie? You choosed the wrong car!" (I was trying to avoid being seen as the bad one, i was failing to point out i had made the decision myself) When i phoned up the insurance company, they wanted to charge me three times the ammount Kevin paid to take on the insurance, it really wasn't worth it. To be honest, since i crashed it, great though it was to drive, it wasn't very aesthetically pleasing and i wasn't expecting to get much for it. Poor uncle Paul had to take the brunt of Dennis' anger, i felt truly awful.
Dennis sobbed on the phone to his uncle "Now that's two things that have gone, Daddy and Bertie!" His uncle's reaction was to try and distract him, he talked about all sorts of things, lego, days out, letters he would write him, anything to stop him thinking about the car. After about 30 minutes the conversation ended and the menace went up for bathtime and bed. It had taken about an hour and a half to calm him down. At one point, he was standing in the sitting room screaming, he seemed to be seeing how loud he could scream, a release of all his tension and emotion, he seemed to be enjoying it. (I understood that feeling, i have done it myself).
My first thought was to not talk about Bertie, just sell him and be done with it. But my policy has been to be honest with him and i didn't want to break his trust, so instead i took the stance of talking him through why and how we would sell him. Over the nest few days Dennis came up with all sorts of reasons for why we needed to keep Bertie. "How will we take Tom and his family to the cinema? How will you drive my friends to my party? What if we need to pick up something big from Granny and Grumpy's?" All these questions i tried to answer as best i could.
I explained to Dennis that cars do not last forever ( i regretted that i had personalised them with names). I told him how they deppreciate in value, i explained tax and insurance, petrol costs and maintenance. I had to explain these quite a few times, they are not easy concepts for a six year old! In the end he accepted that Bertie was going and changed his tack, "Can we sell him to someone we know." I explained that not everyone wants a 7 seater car, and that it was unlikely we would see Bertie again, but we could always remember him.
At the same time all this was going on, they changed the law on owning an uninsured car, i was getting very nervous as i still hadn't sold the car, and i did not want to pay the £1500 odd they wanted to charge me. I phoned the insurance company and asked for an extension to the one month's grace, they would not. I thanked the woman for being most unhelpful and put the phone down. This was not going well. My friend (@i_amnotdan) phoned the police and asked about the law, and kindly sent me an e mail entitled "Car insurance - the facts"
This did calm me down, but i still wanted to get rid of the car, it was starting to feel like a millstone around my neck and i didn't really want to go through all the reasons why we were selling it, all over again.
In the end the menace got his way. Some friends bought it off us, Dennis was happy, he can still see Bertie and i am happy i no longer have an illegal, uninsured car sitting on my lawn. And huge thanks to Uncle Paul for helping me with the difficult conversations, and @i_amnotdan for helping me with the selling.
I promised Dennis that was the only thing that would go, nothing else would change. I really hope i can keep that promise! I am also going to make a conscious effort not to personalise the cars again!