Last night I got the phone call that every mom of a driver dreads.
“I’ve been in an accident, mom.”
Everything goes silent. Breathing stops as the heart races and you can feel beads of sweat puddling on your hairline and your pulse reverberating in your ears.
“I’ll call you back, I have to talk the the firemen and paramedics.”
I call him back immediately, ”How dare you do that! I don’t give a shit about the firemen! Are you OK?”
“I’m fine,” he tells me. “It’s not a big deal, everything’s OK.”
And with that, the anger set in. As long as he was fine, I was going to kill him.
Slowly and choppily, he unravels pellets of details from his shaky voice. I listen and try to piece together what emotions I should be feeling and what I can do as I have a house full of sleeping children.
The accident happened close to my mom’s house on a wet road infamous for its winding paths that I’ve warned him about HUNDREDS of times only to get eye rolls in return. I get more angry.
He had a friend in the car and his friend was being seen by a paramedic for his shoulder. ”The car is pretty messed up,” he added and I know that’s what was weighing on him the most. Whether it was my wrath for him ruining the car or the freedom that it provided to him becoming a distant memory or a little of both.
The paramedic spoke with me and reassured me that the boys were OK. A minor injury to the passenger from the seat belt and his parents were on their way.
It seemed like everything was under control and that they were fine. I called my mom and asked if she could go oversee the situation and pick him up. The kids were sleeping and I didn’t trust how I would react in the situation. I explained to her, “I don’t what I’ll do, I know he was screwing around, he’s a teenager!” I was mad. I was disappointed. I was afraid. I was overwhelmed with particulars from insurance to tow trucks.
After some time had passed and I knew my mom had enough time to get there, I called to find out if any new information was found and hear it from her. Knowing I was fired up and on my soapbox about his carelessness, “It was a BAD accident, Tena,” she whispered breathy, “Now is not the time for lectures, trust me, he is shaken up and they were truly lucky. The car overturned into a ravine just feet away from a deeper one that would have been tragic!”
I was put in my place. And suddenly that initial panic returned.
I kept seeing the images in my head and, still now, I keep seeing them and my mind is racing and dwelling on what if’s. The car was towed to my mom’s driveway and I don’t want to see it. I don’t need the visual. My mind doesn’t need a visual.
My husband came home from work and retrieved him from my mom’s. When they walked in the door, my previous anger faded, dropped away and was replaced with compassion and gratitude as I saw this scared kid, mentally damaged and traumatized with a look of dismay that you rarely see in a 17 year old boy. I opened my arms and he hugged me tighter than he ever has and cried on my shoulder for what seemed like an eternity.
My emotions ran the gamut and confused me. I wanted to lock him in his room. I wanted to take away his pain and the inevitable recaps that are running through his mind. I wanted to punish him, but then I think he’s had his punishment. A small part of me is happy that it happened, that maybe he will be more cautious now, realize I’m not crazily over-protective and that it’s not that I don’t trust him, but that shit really does happen.
I know he was lucky and I’m thankful, but with kids it’s always something testing your ability to deal. I feel like I’m waiting for the next shoe to drop. Always. And last night I don’t think I fared very well.