One of the things that isn't a shock after raising three boys is middle-of-the-night phone calls.
This morning at 2:45, I looked at the caller ID on my phone with blurry eyes and felt the last name register in the back of my brain as exactly the same one as the former county sheriff. I answered anyway.
And not surprisingly, my sixteen-year-old son was on the other end.
"Mom?" he said, "Me and Zach were out driving around and ran off the road. We're okay, but the truck's a little messed up. The sheriff wanted me to call and let you know what was going on."
To be honest, I don't remember what I said. I was calm, and very very quiet, because I was already debating the idea of whether to let my husband in on it. I asked if there had been any drinking, and my son said no. My extrasensory skills must have been working earlier in the evening when my son said he was going to his brother's house for a party, and I reviewed with him all the possible consequences of getting caught drinking, as a high school athlete and a 16 year old. Being the youngest of three boys apparently has its advantages - one of the things my son likes to say is "I've learned from my brothers' mistakes." This covers a lot of territory, including girls.
I was glad the boys were unharmed. But I was worried about the truck, because it used to belong to my dad. So after I roused my husband with the news and we showed up on the scene of the accident (both of us - I was told I was there to keep my husband "from killing our son"), imagine my relief when we realized it had been the other kid that was driving, in his own truck. It was pretty banged up, on both sides, and it appears to be skewed a little. They hit the trunk of a blue spruce on one side, flipped around, and hit a mail box on the other side. And then a trash bin.
The owners were standing out in the yard, hugging themselves against the cold and looking angry, along with another homeless-looking guy who had apparently been sleeping in a van outside. I share this information to perhaps shed a little light on the caliber of the residents. The boys had already discussed with the owners their plans to clean up the damage, including replacing the mailbox and cleaning up the trash.
Both of the boys were just here after going to pick up the trash, which my husband says "has been laying all over the yard all week." He knows this because he drives his school bus past their house twice a day. And the 25-foot blue spruce they hit? Well, the lady who lives there must love that tree an awful lot. She says it is worth two thousand dollars, and she'd like to have the money to replace it, even though only a few branches are missing from the bottom.
This irritates me just a little. Here's a situation where the boys are willing to do the right thing to rectify what they've done, and the "victims" have to be assholes about it.
But, you know...it could be Karma biting them in the ass. Because here's what they'd done to Zach's sister's car just before the accident. She'd left it parked in the school parking lot to go somewhere with a friend, with whom she was spending the night.
I like the plastic wrap, and the two bars of soap skewered onto the antenna the best.
Maybe I'm a terrible mother, but it's hard for me to be angry or stern about any of this. I see it as a character-building experience, and all a part of growing up. And the truth is, no matter how many things we learn from others' mistakes, we always learn best from the ones we make on our own.