Once, when I was 14 or 15 years old, I was spending a summer day helping my Dad and a couple of other guys put a barbed-wire fence down the back side of the property. This fence was in a heavily wooded and grown up area, so the method involved walking down the fence line with a chain saw cutting everything in the way, to make a road big enough for the truck. We’d do this maybe 100 yards at a time, then go back for the truck. Once we got to the end, we’d string wire and use the truck to throw off posts, etc.
Anyhow, at one rest period I got sent back for the truck. It was a red GMC truck, probably at that time 5 or 6 years old, bought used. I was driving it to where everybody else was resting, and I went in between two little tree stumps left from our cutting. Unfortunately, they were about two inches too close together. I got out to see how bad the damage was, and saw that I had wrinkled the sheet metal down both sides of the truck. Dad was going to kill me, no doubt about it.
So, fearing for my life, I proceeded with the truck to where Dad was sitting at the foot of a tree, having a beer. I pulled up across from him and got out, walked over to him.
I said, “Dad, see the sheet metal on the side of your truck?”. He said, in a grim voice, “Yep.”
I said, “Well, the other side looks just like it.”
He got to laughing so hard that he never punished me for it.
I told you that one, so I could tell you this one.
Much, much later, my son Richard was learning to drive. I think he was probably 14 or 15. He had reached the point of soloing in our big yard, in my Ford Ranger, and he was sort of circling the house and my mother’s mobile home. I had gone inside for a minute, but happened to be looking out the back window as he came around the mobile home. He cut it a little close and clipped the tongue of the trailer with the side of the truck, putting a little dent behind the door. Shook the mobile home pretty well, too. Of course he stopped to check the damage.
I came out the back door, laughing, and he got mad (I think) because he thought I was laughing at him. But I was actually laughing because I had done the same dang thing, pretty much, twenty-some-odd years before, and I thought it was hilarious. Maybe it’s genetic, thought I.
When young people are first learning to drive, you just have to expect this kind of thing. Getting mad about it doesn’t help – it’s part of the job description of a parent to be patient about this kind of thing. Neither he, nor I, set out to dent the various trucks – it just takes some practice to learn how to judge that sort of thing.
Be patient with your kids.