sly : marketing

The Road Trip With My 5 Year Old Son

I woke up yesterday, thinking about how the wheelbarrow made me feel like the greatest dad in the world as I listened to the sound of the rain. I was alone with my son, and I realized that I wanted to do a road trip with him.

I am still living in a tent, and even though I am relaxing and enjoying every aspect of the solitude, I am also thinking about the importance of relationships. Today, I’m stressing the importance of family, and especially the relationship between a son and his dad. But there are also several marketing lessons between the lines.

I’m taking you on a journey, along with my five year old son and me. Before we get started, I just want to assure you that the day was a huge success. My son is still talking about it.

Now, as I am writing this, I’m sitting fairly high on a mountain overlooking the ocean. I can feel the warm breeze, and see three sail boats far ahead. The two seagulls just beneath me are looking relaxed as they are on the water, going wherever the waves are taking them. It’s hard to think that yesterday it was raining hard, and that the rain was the reason for one of the best experiences this summer.

A stranger saves the day

I wanted the trip to be a surprise. Because to me, surprises are the best way to get people excited. But, I revealed the plans, one step of the time. If I hadn’t, I would probably have had a hard time to get my son to come with me. First, we had to walk close to 30 minutes in the rain, so I told him that we were going to take the bus to the city. I didn’t really have to tell him where we were going, because all he cared about now was the bus.

From then on, every five seconds, my son asked me; “where’s the bus? “I can’t see it. Dad, where’s the bus?” Standing inside a shed, hiding from the rain, he kept looking. We talked about the color. He thought that the bus would be red, I told him that I thought it would be green, although I had seen the bus already and it was yellow.

I let him be the first one to see it when it appeared far away. He jumped, pointed, and shouted, “Dad there’s the bus, it’s yellow!”

He was excited, so was I. He hasn’t been on many buses in his short life. And, I could see the way he jumped that this was one of the highlights so far. The bus stopped, I jumped out of the shed, and so did my son. The rain was pouring down, and we ran inside as soon as the doors opened. “Finally,” that was my first thought.

I smiled to the woman driving, she didn’t smile back. She was in her mid fifties, and this was not one of her best days at work. I continued to smile as I asked for the price to the city. $7, she said with a voice that reminded me of Lord Voldermort from the Harry Potter movies. I forced another smile as I gave her my VISA card. She didn’t move. Not any gestures at all. She just looked at me, and I could see what she was thinking. “Who does this guy think he is?” That’s exactly what she was thinking. Then Lord Voldermort spoke again. “Cash only.”

Standing there, watching my excited son, I realized I had a major problem. I didn’t have any cash. I never do. I had no idea that I couldn’t pay with VISA. And, we just couldn’t wait for the next bus, it would be more than 90 minutes of waiting. The day would be ruined for my son. So, I was begging the driver. Please, can I pay once we get to the city, or pay double on the way back? She had stopped speaking. She just turned her head in the opposite direction. My son was already in his seat all the way back in the bus, and I could see the disappointment in his face as I was about to pick him up and carry him outside.

Then, an angel spoke to me. A woman in her forties, grabbed my arm. “I saw what happened,” she said. I looked at her. I had never seen her before. “Consider this a gift,” she said as she handed me $7. I was stunned. At first I said I couldn’t accept it, but she insisted, so I ended up saying thank you, taking the money and paying the ticket.
Now, this woman was more important to me than the president. I was like an agent from the Secret Service, and I realized that I would have done anything for her. I would have taken a bullet for her. Her $7 saved the day.

I’m lovin’ it

We arrived in the city. It was still raining. After the exciting bus trip, we needed some food. We needed something to eat before I was going to reveal the plans to watch a movie at the movie theatre.

I asked my son where he wanted to eat, although I already knew the answer. “McDonald’s, Dad.” I said sure. Let’s go. It’s not really about the food. It’s about the playground and the experience. I guess it’s ok, because I don’t hate McDonald’s anymore.

I can talk for days about McDonald’s and marketing. But their marketing department sure understands how kids are thinking. The Happy Meal is brilliant. My son wanted McNuggets, but after he discovered the toys inside the cool Happy Meal “box”, he suddenly wanted me to order a Happy Meal instead.

McDonald’s is to kids like being picked up at the kindergarten in a wheelbarrow. It’s all about targeting the customers. Kids don’t want a fancy restaurant. Kids don’t want to drive a brand new BMW. The wheelbarrow is perfect. McDonalds is perfect. I had to order a Big Mac without meat (because I’m a vegetarian). But my son was happy, so I was happy.

Kung Fu Panda 2

It was hard to get my son away from his new friends. One of the kids had red and blue hair, and was the king of the slide. I had to show my son a preview of the movie on my iPhone to get him excited all over again. Kung Fu Panda 2, and an extra large popcorn. The perfect combination after lunch at McDonald’s, on a rainy day.

Kung Fu Panda 2 was awesome, and my son had an amazing time. What I kept thinking of, was not about the movie or how my son managed to eat most of the popcorn, but why on earth they showed advertisements before the movie (to the kids). Well, I know why, but they shouldn’t. Ads are not suitable for kids. Kids have too much power over their parents. And kids want everything they see. I was afraid that my son would be too excited about what he saw on some of the ads, especially about the new BMW – I can’t possibly afford it.

Saving the best for last

I discovered that, when it comes to kids, it’s not really about money and things that we think we need to buy in order to make them excited. It’s hard to buy something that can cause the moment I witnessed when my son was running to a playground in a random park, after the movie. I didn’t tell him this, but the playground was not part of my plan. It just happened to be there. The best part of the road trip seemed to be happening at the playground, in the rain.

Now, you might not think that this is such an exciting road trip, but if you do, then you’re wrong. It doesn’t matter what you, or your friends, or anyone thinks, because what I did was all about my son. And this road trip was highly targeted to satisfy his needs, on this particular day, after spending three weeks in a tent, by the beach. My son is still excited about what we did. He keeps talking about the yellow bus, the kid with the red and blue hair, Kung Fu Panda 2, and the awesome playground.

Whatever I do, marketing or not, I try to target my actions.

Signature of Jens P. Berget

30 responses to “The Road Trip With My 5 Year Old Son”

  1. Eugne says:

    I don’t really carry cash around with me either. And the last time I was faced with a cash-only situation (also on a bus :)) my friend happened to be with me and had me covered.

    It’s great to see that good people still exist and will go out of their way to help someone.

    By the way, McDonald’s?? Not pizza??? Your son doesn’t really take after you, does he? 🙂

    • jens says:

      Hi Eugene,

      Well, you shouldn’t make fun of my son and pizza. It’s a huge problem for me. He said that he doesn’t like pizza. That’s just crazy and a disaster for me 🙂

      Just kidding.

      So, are you ready to move to New York yet?


  2. Adrienne says:

    What a wonderful day Jens with your son. I remember those days as a kid too. Of course we never had fancy things but they weren’t important. It was spending time doing the things you love with the people you love. I have a feeling your son will be talking about that day for a very long time.

    That was also a very kind gesture for that lady to pay your way. I would have done the same thing. I’m so happy that your special day turned out so well.

    Appreciate you sharing this experience with us.


    • jens says:

      Hi Adrienne,

      At the time, it felt like that woman saved my life. I would have bought whatever she offered, or I would have given her double the money back.

      To me, this feeling is what marketing is all about. She made me feel very special, and I felt a strong connection to her.

      Thanks a lot for your awesome comment Adrienne. It’s my last week of the vacation, I’ll be visiting your blog as soon as I get back home. I can’t wait to talk about affiliate marketing with you.


  3. Ron says:

    I really want to spend vacation with my family specially with my dad. I like to spend quality time together and talk about things we used to talk before. I want to spend it in a fine and nice place.

    • jens says:

      Hey Ron,

      You should do it. It’s nothing like spending quality time with the people you love. I haven’t been a lot with my dad alone, but I’m doing it with my kids all the time… it’s just fantastic.


  4. Eddie Gear says:

    Isn’t that just sweet. I can only imagine it like reading a book. But let me tell you that is a lovely feeling to see love and care.

    • jens says:

      Hey Eddie,

      The feeling you get as a dad, when your son is happy and excited, it’s the best feeling in the world. It doesn’t happen that often, but it’s just fantastic 🙂

      Thanks a lot.


  5. Bill Dorman says:

    Of course, you didn’t tell everyone your son is 24 yrs old, but I’m glad he enjoyed his day……..:).

    I don’t carry cash either, but that’s because I don’t have any money. I wonder why it is offensive to ask someone if they have any spare change?

    What a great story; I had a similar one where I rescued someone out of gas. I hope I left a lasting impression like this ‘angel’ did for you.

    The ‘adventure’ days spent with your kids are the best; I’m glad you are still having a great time. It will be good to get you back however.

    Thanks for sharing this story today.

    • jens says:

      Hi Bill,

      I should probably have mentioned that my kid is five years old and not 24 🙂

      No money, then it’s time to start earning some online cash… I’m about to start affiliate marketing. I’ve been reading about it during the summer, and hopefully something good will come out of it.

      Let me know more about the gas story. You should write a blog post about it.


  6. jens says:

    Thanks for your feedback 🙂


  7. Suzanne Franco Land says:

    Jens … What a wonderful story! Although our kids are a bit older, it’s very important for me to remember that they are much more into quality time together than “things” (yes – even those darn teenagers LOL) so you’ve got my creative juices flowing – looking for ideas for my own kids … and I truly thank you for that!

    As for the lady on the bus … I loVe it when I get the chance to be someone’s “angel” for the moment … and if you are truly aware of your surroundings and of those around you … those opportunities (to honestly make someone’s day) arise more often than you’d think LOL 😉

    I’ve enjoyed following along *huGs* Suzanne

    P.S. I’m sorry I don’t comment more often but I read most everything you write – and as I blogger I should realize that we need to hear from our audience so we know it “matters”

    • jens says:

      Hi Suzanne,

      I have nightmares of my kids turning in to teenagers. My daughter is eight, and she’s acting and thinking like a teenager already 🙂

      I am doing my best to cherish ever moment until the day when they don’t want to be around me. I know that day will come. But hopefully that phase is a short one, and after that weekend we’ll continue to be best friends 🙂

      You don’t have to worry about not commenting enough. I love every single comment I get, and you’re awesome no matter how many comments you publish 🙂

      Thanks a lot, and I hope you’re having a great summer.


  8. Christina says:

    This post reminds everything to me i remember my dad who always bring me to beach every week end.thanks for sharing this with us.

    • jens says:

      Hi Christina,

      That sounds awesome. I wish my dad would have taken me to the beach every weekend. Well, I live in Norway, so it’s not as nice as it might sound. Way too cold (and rainy) most of the year 🙂

      Where do you live, is the weather nice all year?

      Thanks a lot for your comment.


  9. Suzanne Franco Land says:

    Read this and thought of you and this post 😉

    Research has shown that a simple act of kindness directed toward another improves the functioning of the immune system and stimulates the production of serotonin in both the recipient of the kindness and the person extending the kindness. Kindness extended, received, or observed beneficially impacts the physical health and feelings of everyone involved! ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer~

    • jens says:

      Ah, you are too kind.

      That’s just awesome. I guess I should continue with my acts of kindness, now my family and I will be more healthy as well 🙂

      Thanks a lot for sharing this Suzanne.

    • Carolyn says:

      Suzanne, thank you for posting that study. As I was reading Jens’ fabulous post, I was thinking that as much joy as that woman’s kind gesture brought to him and his son, it probably brought even more joy to her. She must have felt very good to be able to help in such a caring way.

      • jens says:

        Carolyn, I once helped a girl paying for her food at a grocery store. I still remember how good I felt about myself after paying for her food. It was an awesome feeling to see her face light up. So, this woman definitively got some of the same feeling, although I would have appreciated if I could have paid her the money 🙂

  10. Teresa Williams says:

    What a beautiful story and beautifully written. I will always remember my children being excited when we were waiting for trains or buses and repeatedly asking every few minutes when it was arriving, just like your son.

    • jens says:

      Hi Teresa,

      I love waiting for the bus or the train with my kids. They get so excited just waiting for things that we take for granted and find boring. And, taking trips like this with my son, makes me question many things about life.

      Thanks a lot for your comment.


  11. Madeen says:

    Yes, I have realized that when it comes to kid you don’t really need money because they really need attention and love.

    • jens says:

      Hi Madeen,

      I absolutely agree. My kids love their Nintendo DS as well, but when it comes down to it, attention and love is the most important part. I’m sure that they wouldn’t say that if I’d ask them, but as a dad, that’s my experience 🙂

      Thanks a lot for your comment Madeen.


  12. Carolyn says:

    Jens, I just love your posts. I keep thinking about the articles long after as they really touch me.

    I can just imagine the excitement of your son each step of your journey (by the way, great job using tech to move your son along in the journey. iPhones can be handy!).

    A similar situation happened to my 12 year old daughter. She was flying solo for the first time to visit her best friend in Texas. The flight was long and she wanted to watch a movie on the plane. But to watch anything on the tv, she had to pay $5. She tried to give her money to the flight attendant, but the airline only accepted credit cards (the opposite of your problem).

    A kind gentleman sitting next to my daughter took out his credit card and swiped it for her so she could watch tv on the flight. She tried to give him the $5, but he wouldn’t accept it, instead telling her to “enjoy the movie.”

    My daughter was incredibly touched by his generosity as was I. I would like to thank that man, but I will never meet him. All we can do is pay it forward.

    Thanks so much, Jens, for sharing your story of human joy. Yours, your son’s, and the kind stranger’s.

    • jens says:

      Hi Carolyn,

      That’s awesome. I love it when people do kind things like that. And, sharing is the best way. When someone do a thing like that to me, I always end up doing something similar to other people.


  13. jens says:

    I really enjoyed Kung Fu Panda 2, even though it’s a movie targeted for children. But, being with my son was the best part of the movie 🙂

  14. Jimmy says:

    Hi Jens,

    I want you to know that you are the first Norwegian friend of my life. I am not sure if I am your first Singaporean friend though. Anyway, I am subscribing to your list because of this post on father and son relationship. I really could relate to this experience you had with your son. I long to have one with my son too. He is 2.5 years old now. He loves taking the bus too. The playground is also heaven to him. But as for movies and Macs, not yet. By the way, i have a older girl at 4 too.

    This trip of yours really taught me how you valued the in the moment time with your kid. I guess this is where we all need to ground ourselves a little more with kids. They don’t need the money. To them there are many more ways to have fun and a lot of those could be for free. We just have to keep looking for them.

    Thanks for this piece of parenting inspiration.

    • Jens says:

      Hi Jimmy,

      Thanks a lot for your kind words. My most important mission is to be with my kids and help them to live a happy life. And it’s awesome to do things together, especially things we all enjoy 🙂

      Thanks again, and I hope you’re having a great weekend.


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