The next time I say I want to trade in the mini van and get a nice little car instead, it is the responsibility of everyone I know to remind me of this:
Yesterday afternoon on the way home from picking the boys up from school, I was sitting at a red light by home, talking to the boys about the day and looking at the note from Noah's teacher (usual stuff, nothing bad) when all of a sudden...
A car slammed right into the back of us. I looked up to find what looked like either a teenage driver sitting in his car with a panicked look on his face. The boys were talking a mile a minute but not really too upset, so I got out to inspect any damage.
The poor kid was apologizing profusely and it turned out that my van didn't have a single scratch and HIS car was pretty cracked up along the front.
At the time, I figured it was his fault, his car had the damage and I had to be at work in a half hour so I just told him to be careful and sent him on his way, without filling out a police report.
Afterwards, while I sat at work teaching, my head POUNDING with a headache, and later when my neck started hurting most of the night, I started re-thinking my actions. Yes, the kid probably would have to answer to his father when he got home.
But didn't I lose a perfect teaching opportunity? The fact that this kid hit me as hard as he did (and it was quite hard) while I was sitting at a stop light means that he had to have been approaching pretty fast, even though it was a red light. I'm thinking that means he was probably texting or some other thing, rather than paying attention to the road. If I had called the police, maybe he would have learned something about proper driving and what NOT to do when behind the wheel. What if he continues bad habits and causes more damage to someone else, perhaps even causing an injury next time?
So now I feel like I was an irresponsible citizen for not tattling on him. While I sit here writing, my ibuprofen has worn off and my neck is sore again. Is that my penance for not doing the right thing? Or DID I do the right thing...letting it go for him to deal with with his parents and hoping that maybe he will learn a lesson this time before he causes problems to someone else.
The least I should have done is break into a mini lecture about responsible driving, but I was so relieved that the boys were okay and not really freaked out, that I just wanted to get home and stop shaking.
So what do you think? What would you have done in the same situation.