(Bitter) Sweet 16 Series: The Phone Call You Never Want to Get

The words you never want to hear when you receive a phone call: “Mom, we were in an accident.” My heart sank. I instantly felt sick to my stomach. I panicked.

It was a Sunday night, and my daughter, Maddi, wasn’t driving. But she was in the passenger seat of a car with two friends. The driver didn’t see a stop sign and the car was T-boned. It spun around and went down a hill into a small yard and crashed into the side of a house. The air bags deployed, she got banged around a bit and her knee was badly bruised and swollen.

Thankfully–miraculously–no one was seriously injured. Both cars were totaled, but it could have been a lot worse. I say she definitely had a guardian angel with her that night because her face didn’t have a single mark from the airbag.

I feel for any parent who gets the dreaded call and arrives at the accident scene to see the flashing lights, bits of twisted metal and shattered glass on the road, big tow trucks hauling away smashed cars. It’s overwhelming. The only reason I was fairly calm was because I knew she was okay because she called me herself.

The scene of the accident

The accident was only two blocks away from our house, so I got there fast. Seeing the damage and the kids so shaken up was scary. The driver apologized profusely. All three kids realized how truly lucky they were. I can’t even fathom showing up at an accident scene and losing a child (or anyone else for that matter).

After getting her checked out at the ER (just to make sure she didn’t have a concussion or that there wasn’t serious injury to her knee), we got the go-ahead from doctors and headed home. It was late. Maddi was scared – I mean really scared. I think in that moment she realized why it’s terrifying for parents to let their kids drive or even get in the car with another young driver. Accidents happen in a split second. As parents, we can’t protect them 24/7, and that’s unsettling. But as I said in my earlier blog post, we can’t put them in a bubble.

Going forward

My daughter had no interest in driving for a couple of weeks after the accident, but eventually she climbed back up on the horse. She’s continuing to practice in preparation for taking her driver’s license test.

The silver lining in all of this (if there is one)? It was a good lesson for all of the kids to learn. It showed them how important seat belts are, and it hammered home the thing we adults keep saying: “You have to pay attention 100 percent of the time when you’re behind the wheel!”

Stay safe out there, kids.

Read the next installment in this regular series.

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