Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bad Idea

Last Saturday, we got home from the park and put Grace down for her nap. Ava and Nate went into their rooms for rest time. (Rest time=best time) I had some lunch and was reading in our sitting room. The sun was shining in through the window, and I was getting all warm and sleepy feeling. I was contemplating whether or not I should stretch out on the couch to snooze or if I should go upstairs to my bedroom. One of the tough decisions of life.

At that point, I heard a car race by on the street. I've mentioned before, our house is set up on a steep hillside. Beyond our driveway, which is cut into the hill, is a 10 meter drop--straight to the street below. And on the other side of our street--opposite all the houses--is a ravine. A steep drop, about 60 feet or so. I could hear this car, with a really loud engine, roaring by down there on the road. Going way, way too fast on our neighbourhood street. My first thought was what any mother's would be: If they wake up my kid, I will be majorly ticked.

About 30 seconds later, I could hear the car coming back. Obviously they had gone up the street, turned around and were racing back the other direction. I was sitting in a chair right next to a sliding glass door that leads onto our front porch. As I heard the car coming closer, I stood up and looked out the window--I wanted to see who was disturbing my tranquility.

The instant I stood and the car came into view, I watched it swerve out of control and slam into the guardrail. It then bounced and spun away from the guardrail and came to rest in the street. All within 2-3 seconds. Right in front of our house. The crash was incredibly loud. "Oh no!" I ran into the kitchen and out onto our balcony, Jason following behind me.

The car was so messed up, I thought for sure we were going to be calling an ambulance. But within seconds of me running onto our balcony, two teenage boys spilled out of the front seats. The passenger was shouting at the driver, using all sorts of descriptive adjectives. And some nouns thrown in there too. Let's just say that the passenger didn't think too highly of the driver, or his mother in that moment.

Jason ran down our driveway into the street, and one of our neighbours was already making his way down there. The two boys (that's really what they were) weren't hurt, which I still can't believe. The car was old and had no airbags. And see the tree by the car? When it hit the guardrail, the car uprooted this small tree and dragged it into the road as well.

Our friends and neighbours on the other side, Jules and Andy, had also come outside when they heard the crash. We stood on our balconies and remarked to each other that those boys looked awfully young to be driving. And there were no P plates on their car. Note to my non-Aussie readers: You see, here in Australia, a driver has to have a provisional license before they get their full drivers license. There are two levels of the "P" license--a red P and a green P. Any driver with a provisional license has to display the P near their license plates, on the front and the back of the car.

It takes a couple years to get your full license, and looking at these boys--we knew there was no way they were old enough to have it yet. Jason walked back up our driveway to get a broom--there was a lot of broken glass in the road that needed to be swept up. When he came up, he told us what we'd already been wondering about. The driver was only 16, had no license at all, and the car was unregistered and uninsured. Yowza.

The passenger told Jason that this wasn't the first time the driver had taken the car out, and that the car belonged to his dad. He seemed to think that the dad was aware the kid drove it from time to time.

Yeah. Well, I don't think he'll be driving that anymore. Okay, so the driver calls his dad. We could hear him on the phone right below us. Before he called dad, he was full of bravado, swearing and spitting on the ground. But when he got on the phone, I could hear his voice breaking. See that silver car up there in the first photo? That's his dad. That car pulled up and stopped, and for quite awhile no one got out. "Who do you think that is?" I asked Andy. "I think it must be the dad," he said. "But why isn't he getting out of the car?" Andy said, "If it was me, and that was my kid, I think I'd need a barrier between us for a little while."

Eventually the dad got out and looked at the car. He talked to his kid, but not much. The next question in my mind was, is someone going to call the police? Our neighbour--the one that was down there sweeping up the glass, was acquainted with the driver's family. I think he intended to just talk to the dad.

But someone called the cops--we later found out it was someone on a neighboring street who heard the crash. Man, when that cop car pulled up, I can only imagine what that kid and his dad must've thought. It's one thing to drive recklessly and total a car. But to drive recklessly and total a car when you have no license and your car is unregistered and uninsured? That is a world of hurt, right there.

There they are, talking to the two kids. Dad got back in the car for that part.

It's funny how becoming a parent changes your perspective. Along with shaking my head over the accident and how boneheaded those kids were, I also couldn't help but think, Geez. What's to stop my kids from doing the same thing one day? I mean, no parent brings their newbown home from the hospital and goes, "Right! When this baby's a teenager, he is going to make a total dumbass decision, endangering himself and others! Let's get right on that!" So, when Ava and Nate were done with rest time, I marched them out onto the balcony. "The boy who drove that car did a very dangerous and careless thing," I told them. "He's very lucky he didn't get hurt. He thought he could handle that car and drive fast, but he couldn't. I want you to remember this--one day you'll be driving a car and you'll need to be so careful." Ha! Jason was like, "Do you think they'll even remember that?" They won't be driving for another ten years, but I couldn't help trying to turn it into a teachable moment. They were like, "Uhh, okay Mom." But I felt better.

So, that was our Saturday afternoon! Never a dull moment, here in the 'hood. Hope you are well, and accident-free.


  1. Yeah, that was a pretty bone-headed thing for those kids to do. Thank God no one was hurt. What is it about your street that makes it attractive for drag racing I wonder? Wonder what the consequences are for what they did , with the law? Not to mention that Dad. Kids do crazy, impulsive things. I agree with you that part of parenting is pointing that out to your kids. You teach and tell them and them hope they learn. It might also help to be in a country where people drive on the right side of the road, too. BTW, you got serious skills if you can get those kids to do rest time at their ages!

  2. Teenagers are so, so dumb. it's going to be awesome when I have two at the same time.

    And way to grab that teaching moment

  3. Omg, I'm surprised they didn't wind up down in that ravine. They so, so easily could have. I think showing the kids was a great move.

  4. If the US were a country that could learn fromnthe experience of others, that provisional license thing might be worth investigation. Is that nationwide or only in NSW? If the former, is it federal or state-by-state?

    Oh, and they will remember if you show them the photos and talk about it Every. Single. Day., for the next ten years.

  5. OMG, so dumb and so scary. And I agree with all these comments: I think it was great that you showed the kids and talked about it -- and will be even better if you continue talking about other accidents (both ones that are a product of crazy/I'm gonna live forever teenage mentality AND the ones that happen everyday with fully licensed adults on the road), to reinforce how dangerous it is to drive a car, and how vigilant you need to be.

  6. with 2 teenagers who drive/ride motorcycles I've learnt you teach/reinforce/let them go with words of warning ringing in their ears and then hope/pray/worry til they come home again. Teenage brains tell them they are invincible regardless of warnings. That father probably kept a lid on his rage till the shock of nearly losing his son wore off.

    and Papa the licensing scheme is slightly different state to state by essentially the same

  7. Wowzers. I'm totally with you on making that a teachable moment! And..me thinks you're turning Aussie for sure...spelling neighbor with a "u"... ;)