Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011 • 2 Comments
The picture below is cute and innocent, but it’s a reminder that someday my baby (babies!) will be old enough to drive. Scary thought. Normally, I’m not of the “I don’t want him to grow up!” mentality. I love watching Patrick learn new things and discover the world around him. My little baby is about to become a big brother and that (mostly) delights me. He’s still my little baby, always will be. But someday, sooner than I would like, I’m going to have to send him out in the world and trust he will be safe—and trust that I have taught him to do the right thing and look out for himself. It’s not something I’m looking forward to.
One of the girls at my regular Starbucks was in a car accident over the weekend. She wasn’t wearing her seatbelt when the car hit a guardrail. She’s okay, relatively speaking. Her poor face is a mishmash of cuts and abrasions and stitches and bruises and swelling, but she’s alive and will likely have little more than a faint scar or two to remind her of the experience. But oh, I couldn’t help but look at her pretty face and think how much worse it could have been. She could’ve lost an eye, or broken delicate bones in her face. Or died.
I was in a similar car accident when I was 19. It was before there was even a seatbelt law (Florida was one of the last holdouts) and I had a Camaro. Those two facts were a disaster waiting to happen. But for whatever reason, on the fateful day my tires spun out on wet road and my car crashed into a wall, I was wearing my seatbelt. I still managed to crack the windshield with my head, but I walked away from the accident with nothing more than a goose egg on my forehead and a nasty bruise from the seatbelt. I was lucky. Just like the girl at Starbucks. But I was 19 then and thought I was invincible (or didn’t much care that I wasn’t). I’m older now and know my own mortality—and that of those I love.
Someday, I will hand Patrick (and his brother) the keys to a car and watch the slow grin spread over his face at the realization of his freedom. I will remind him to be careful, to obey the speed limit, to remember everything he’s been taught—and to wear his seatbelt no matter what. And I will hope he listens. I will hope he is smarter than I was at 19, smarter than the sweet 21 girl at Starbucks, smarter than every other teenager who ever drove a car. It’s a naive hope, I know, but it’s the only thing I can do. Hope.
Wear your seatbelt. Always. And remind your friends and your kids and your kids’ friends to do the same.