First of all, thankfully, no one was hurt. There was only minor damage to the other car. Our van suffered from a crushed in frontside panel and wheel.
It happened just down the street from our house. My son, who has only had his license for three months, was leaving our neighborhood. He pulled up to the intersection, looked right to see that the coast was clear, noticed my husband was driving up the street, thought to himself, "Hey, there's Dad!" Then, he proceeded straight through the intersection. See the problem?
If you said, "He didn't look left!" You passed the driver's test!
The other driver was also a teenager. She did him the favor of hitting his front wheel, instead of the driver's side door of the family van that we bought when my son's were first born. We have owned it for 17 years, it has over 200,000 miles and still chugging'.
Her Ford F-150 faired a lot better.
My son is a lucky young man. His first and, hopefully, only wreck happened nearby with his dad as a witness. My husband was able to help him deal with the other driver, her dad, the police, and the tow truck.
So, what did we learn?
We learned not to pile on. My son was shocked, scared, embarrassed, and deflated. I had a few minutes to process before he walked in the door. I had a chance to think about what I wanted to say. I'm glad I didn't add insult to injury, or non-injury, thank goodness. I didn't yell, although I wanted to. I love that van. We raised our kids in that van. I didn't demand explanations. The look on his face was enough. I saw what he was going through was not easy. I didn't pile on.
We learned that these ARE the moments for long talks. Teenagers hate long talks. You have to use them judiciously. Later that night, when the dust had settled, the van had been towed the half a city block to our driveway, and we had a chance to eat and let our emotions settle, we talked. We let him talk first. He expressed all the feelings we hoped he would say; regret, resolve to do better, and an understanding of the cost to the family. Again, we didn't pile on.
We, or I should say, my husband learned to fix the struts on the van. He watched a few videos on YouTube and ordered the parts from Amazon. It makes me laugh to think about how differently we do things from our parents generation. And our kids in turn will do things differently from us.
We learned not to fix the body damage. We left the dented-in driver's side front panel as a reminder to our son and a warning to other drivers.
So, what will we do next time, if there is a next time? We will unlearn everything! We WILL pile on! We will have the longest, baddest talk in the world, where his dad and I do most of the talking! We, or should I say, my husband will not watch any YouTube videos about automotive repair and we will not take advantage of free shipping from Amazon Prime to get 200 lbs worth of car parts to our front door! Because that boy...will be walking.