Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"I've Been in an Accident"--Terrifying Tales of Teenagers

She came through the back door, white faced, shaking, and wiping tears from her face. “I got in an accident in the school parking lot.” High school parking lots—the most dangerous place on earth. They are filled with un-experienced drivers, who over estimate their driving skills and are always in a hurry. I do my best to avoid them, but for Kathryn, a senior in high school, they are unavoidable. And on this day her back fender came in direct contact with “Oops, I was talking to my friend and didn’t notice you there . . .ummm right in front of me.” The damage to her car was negligible, but her neck and shoulders are still suffering.

She called her dad first to tell him what happened. This is actually the third time she has been in an accident, none of which were her fault, and all three times she called Dad first. There is a good reason for that. He is much more calm in a crisis. I am good to have around afterward to give comfort, but not during. During I panic, wring my hands, pace back and forth and say the wrong thing.

Like when Kathryn’s older sister got in an accident. Unfortunately she couldn’t call her dad first because he was at home, and I answered the phone. The conversation went something like:

“Mom, I was in a car accident.”

“You what?! What did you do? Was it your fault? I can’t believe you did this! Weren’t you being careful?”

Muffled sobs. “Are you going to kill me?”

“Probably. (but I didn't mean it!) Stop crying. What happened?”

More sobs. “I was driving down the street (at 10 miles an hour) and hit gravel and lost control of the car and hit a fence.”

“How is the car?” (Notice I have yet to ask her how she is doing)

“It’s not too bad.”

“Can you drive it home?”

“Well, it is on top of a tree.”

“What?!! You drove your car through a tree! Camille!! Why did you say it wasn’t too bad? How much worse can it be than on top of a tree?”
No, this was not her car. I can't find her picture, I just thought the mother of this driver might have felt a lot like I did.

At this point my husband took the phone and asked Camille if she were okay. When she said she was, he told her he would be there in a few minutes. He made me stay home.
It ends up she did hit gravel, did lose control of the car, and probably was NOT going 10 miles an hour when it happened. And had she just taken her foot off the gas pedal, she would have been fine, but instead she panicked (takes a little after her mother, apparently) pressed down on the accelerator, closed her eyes and ramped a curb, cut through a tree and knocked down a block wall. The car was totaled and she and her friend were both lucky to be alive. The only good news is that the dog that had been lying on the other side of the block wall had just moved.

A safer way to travel perhaps?

But, I should have handled it better, I know that. I should have been more like Wes, or how my dad was when I was in an accident in his car at the age of 17. I was terrified to go home out of fear of what he would do. But, when I told him what happened, he just walked outside, looked at the car, said, “Well, it could be worse” and walked back in the house. That was it. He never once said another word about it. (I was child # 4) He never used it against me, never made me feel bad, never held it over my head. And I loved him for that.

So this time when Kathryn walked through the door wiping away tears, I didn’t say anything. I just gave her a hug. I am still not good in a crisis, but I am learning. Yes, I know car accidents are not good things, but in the end cars are still just things. And now we all laugh at Camille's accident and we also laugh at how I didn't handle it. But I am doing better. I am learning that life with teenagers is an exciting ride (pun intended) so it is best to just hold on tight because somehow, perhaps after sometime, even the wild rides bring. . . joy to your journey.


Debi (Dubs2007) said...

oh my gosh... flash forward to my daughters in 10 years - yikes!! can i vote they never learn to drive???

M said...

Can I have a horse connected to a truck when i turn 16?

Marilyn said...

LOL-I'm so sorry to laugh but the tales I could tell of car accidents would fill a small pamphlet....the calls from Mesa Fire....the call from the seminary teacher....the high school parking lot....been there, done that too! (gosh I think that would be a good blog post!)

Becky said...

I do not look forward to my kids driving and being teenagers in general (except on long trips home from Denver). I don't think my stress level can handle that.

BTW, my daughter is also named Kathryn.

Aunty Em said...

Lori, I love the pictures you used. They are hilarious! I was in an accident (as a passenger) when I was 16 - it was scary - got to ride the ambulence and everything.

I'm glad she's okay & I'm glad you're okay too :-)! Hang in there & keep sharing these because I have a lot to learn from you as I'm only 4 years away from it. Yikes!

Dave and Camille said...

Haha... ah, the memories! I'll never forget that phone call - I seriously thought you were going to kill me. It's a good thing you and Dad balance each other out :) I'm glad Kathryn is doing ok... that's not a fun recovery sometimes!

Heidi Ashworth said...

I guess I could have been more concerned about your daughter's well being but I was laughing too hard at the part about the car being on top of a tree. Wheee!

NatureGirl said...

I just let my oldest loose this last December! I hope it never happens, but I will try and keep some perspective if it does. I am really starting to like your blog...I feel addiction coming on!