Trying to Keep My Daughter’s Car and My Sanity Intact
This is a first for me.....seeing one of my children drive off in a car. My daughter got her driver's license in February of last year and began driving full-time the following July. My heart-rate and blood pressure have not settled since.
The previous year, my dad gifted me a car that his wife wasn't using. It was a 2001 Impala with....get this....only 25,000 miles on it! It was almost a new car. Their intent at first was for my daughter to have it for her car. As you can imagine, I was deeply appreciative of the gift and the opportunity to have a car for my girl. But, I told my dad that I had a different plan.
At the time, I was working at DIA and was using my Jeep Wrangler for transportation. Anyone who owns one can attest to the horrible gas mileage these vehicles have on the Interstate. It doesn't help when you have a 4 inch lift and large tires. I think I averaged around 9 mpg. The Impala, however, averaged around 32 mph. Also, the Impala was in such good shape, I felt it would be better in the hands of someone with more experience behind the wheel. The family Trailblazer would be the better option for my daughter. That car had over 100-thousand miles on it and was showing its age. Plus, it's a bigger car which is better to protect my little girl. In explaining this to my dad, I also told him, "she's a new driver and will end up rounding off the corners of whatever she's driving. It would be better she do that in the old Trailblazer." Apparently, I am a prophet.
This past December, my daughter was in her first fender bender. My phone rang as I was just setting up at the Santa Cops Toy Drive in Loveland. She was crying and saying, "Daddy, I was in an accident." My heart dropped. As luck would have it, she was just down the road from me. When I got there, she had calmed down and showed a bit more confidence than I had expected. She told me it wasn't her fault and that the other driver had crossed the lane into her. That's the way the officer on the scene saw it too. Still, I was rattled. I also chuckled a bit when I saw the damage (above). She had rounded off one corner.
This past Monday, my daughter had a scheduled appointment at the Humane Society for a volunteer meeting she had registered and paid for. The meeting was at 5:30pm. At the time, it was snowing but the accumulation was light. Deep down I was telling myself that she shouldn't go. I was going to tell her "no". But, I also thought there has to come a time when I let her go and experience what I thought was going to be a mild storm. So, I let her go. Bad idea. From the time her meeting started up until she left, we got about 3 inches of accumulation. That was more than she's ever experienced as a driver.
By 6:30pm, I was pacing. I was nervous. I texted her asking of her status. Then, the phone rang. I was again met with a crying and hysterical daughter trying to explain to me that she was in an accident. I am ashamed to admit that my first reaction was anger. NOT at her, but at me. I should have gone with my gut on this one. I should have said "no" to the Humane Society meeting. I didn't, and as a result, I put my daughter in a bad situation.
She had slid off an unplowed road and into a ditch. She wasn't speeding. In fact, she was doing about 30mph. She was nervous and visibility was low. The front end of the car bumped into a fence post causing new damage to the left side of the car. Indeed, she is rounding off the corners of the car.
I'm not the most handy man you'd ever meet, but the status of that bumper wasn't good. I had to do something to make it less grotesque and to keep it from falling off while in transit. So, I did what any desperate father would do......I got some zip ties and duct tape. Yep. My southern upbringing came into play as I did my best to make cost effective repairs to the bumper until a professional can work their magic. Here is the result:
I drilled four holes in that quarter panel and wrapped those zip ties around a bracket that is still somehow attached to the car. One of zip ties has a loop because it was 10 degrees outside when I did this and my hands were freezing. It worked, and I don't know how pretty I can make this repair look anyway. It'll do.
One important note I'd like to make: I am extremely thankful that in both of these instances my daughter and her passengers walked away unharmed. I have dear friends of mine who have lost their children in car accidents. You may have as well, or you also know of people who have. It's a parent's worst nightmare and deepest fear. The damage to this car is nothing compared to the well-being of my daughter. I have been perhaps overprotective at times when it comes to her driving on her own, but I regret nothing. I will gladly keep a supply of zip ties and duct tape to keep her car together, so long as she's always safe.