Lessons Learned in the Creek

The year was 1996 and I was a happily independent 16 year old with a brand new driver's license.  My dad taught me to drive using our new-to-us Ford Taurus SHO.  I'm not into cars very much, but this one was beautiful:  Shiny black on the outside with gray, leather interior and a moon-roof.  I thought I was pretty cool because I knew how to drive a stick-shift.

In high school, I grew up in a charmingly spacious, completely restored (by my builder father) Victorian home on Main Street.  We had a pond behind our house that overflowed into a spillway and ran down a creek that was nestled in a small patch of woods running parallel to our driveway.

One sunny Summer day, I pulled my fancy car into the driveway and turned toward the garage so that the back of my car was now facing the creek.  I put my car in neutral.  I was still new to this stick-shift stuff, but I was proud of my innovative idea.  It saved me that extra motion of thrusting it into gear.

I bopped up the back stairs and into the side door.  My mom was standing at the kitchen counter as usual, and my two brothers were talking with her, most likely sampling something she was preparing.  We were casually talking when Jason, my older brother, asked, "Heidi, is someone driving your car?"  We all turned to look out the window just as the black beauty rolled off the driveway, slowly making its way down the hill toward the creek.  We raced outside.  Jason tried to open the door and get into the car, but his arm was nearly ripped off in the process.  I watched, helplessly, as it gained speed, plowed down small trees and completely wedged itself in the quickly moving stream.

In a frantic state of mind, I ran into the river and began pushing at the car, as if by my own strength I could move the beast out of the water.  I was ridiculously crying, "I'm in so much trouble!  Dad loves this car!  I'm in SO much trouble!"

As I was standing up to my calves in the water, with tears covering my face, I knew that my dad didn't love that car more than he loved me.  However, I thought that he might be just a tad bit upset about this, and I hated when people, especially my parents, were disappointed in me.  I remember thinking that I was so dumb.  "Neutral" obviously does not keep a car from rolling.  I knew what I had done wrong, and I knew I would never do it again.

While I thought the world was quickly coming to an end, my mom was snapping pictures.  (So glad she did!)

A tow truck was called, and a diminutive, ancient man arrived.  I cried to my mom because I didn't think there was any way that he was going to be strong enough to push that large SHO out of the river.  Turns out they have machines for things like that.  ;)

My dad returned home about this time and immediately went up to me, hugged my despairing self and asked, "Are you okay?"  Nodding, I mumbled a tearful, "I'm so sorry," as he kissed me on the head.  Then he turned to survey the damage.  Miraculously, after plowing down some small trees, going over rocks, and smacking up against the bank of the creek right next to a tree, the car showed no sign of the trauma, besides a very small scratch on the bumper.  Talk about relief!

After this event, my brothers teased me in a good-natured way every time I drove, reminding me to never leave the car in neutral.  However, my parents didn't ever yell or lecture me.  I had learned my lesson well, and they knew that. 

Contrast the response of my parents with that of a woman who had a son that accidentally drove his car through their garage door.  Totally out of control, she yelled and belittled, spewing that she never wanted to see him again.  I imagine that those furious words, truthful or not, had an impact on their relationship (or lack there of).

Through this experience I learned that it's a bad idea to park a car and leave it in "neutral".  More importantly, I was shown how to be a parent who chooses to love on my children, with all their faults and mistakes, even in stressful situations.  I also gathered that it isn't always necessary to add additional consequences (or words) on top of the lessons that life teaches so well.

I am extremely thankful for the example that my parents set.  May my husband and I set a similar example to our children and always heed these words from James 1:19-20:  

"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."


Marie said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh Heidi. What a great lesson for the day. Your mom taking pictures why you were trying to push the car out sobbing. Hilarious!

That was such a cool house. I think of you each time I drive past it.

Heidi said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

The funny thing is that my mom is NOT a picture-taker. She barely remembers to get the camera out, so the fact that she did was great! We wouldn't have had any pics had she not remembered. I think she thought, "this could be bad, but man is this funny." Oh to be that kind of mom! :) I loved that house. So pretty.

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