The first time our daughter stole the truck, she was twelve. Scott was in North Dakota. I was at a weekly writers’ group meeting, one of the few activities that used to get me out of the house. My phone was on, but in my purse at my feet. Shortly before the meeting was over, I looked down and noticed I had eight missed calls. Half were from Scott, half from the Palm Springs Police Department.
She was cited for (1) driving without a license, (2) not wearing a seat belt, (3) having a passenger without a seat belt, and (4) operating without headlights in the dark. They should have added one for being a dumbass for driving past the police station. The truck was parked in the lot, and they detained the girls outside while they waited for me to pick them up. It wasn’t my first parental consultation with an officer of the law. The same daughter scratched 13 cars in our townhouse parking lot with a rock when she was three. Around age ten, she was spotted spray-painting the sidewalks, court markers, and at least one fence. That news came directly from the officer who stopped by the house to say he’d received a report of a “little blonde girl with a paint can,” and he thought he’d check our house first to see if she was home.
There were other cases, mostly minor, like the chalk incident. And, since that first joy ride, she’s confessed to borrowing my vehicle “more times than she can count.” Makes one reconsider the ACTUAL benefits of sleeping all night. One instance in particular, which began with a second “operating without headlights in the dark” citation, cost us $700 in fines and impound fees.
For years, we’ve played an endless game of tug-of-war with our daughter. We give her a little slack, she pulls us into the mud. We pick up the rope, reign her back in, hold her steady for a while, get comfortable, give her a little slack, and … she pulls us into the mud. She’s 17 now. Her latest stunt involved taking a group of friends 4-wheelin’ Friday night. She called to tell us about it at 8pm on Sunday. One missing side window, a detached spare tire, a broken taillight, and a shit load of scratches along the passenger side and across the hood later, she’s living in fear and refusing to come home.
We’re gonna miss her.
This is the climate in which my husband and I will be attending Sunday’s Daytona 500. Last year, I broke my ankle the Friday prior and had to navigate the unforgiving grandstand stairs on crutches. The year before, I was wandering the stands, taking in the event while looking for a Jack Daniels vendor I didn’t need, and missed the end of the race. This time, like our first, I’d like to enjoy myself AND see the winner win. Which reminds me: It’s a Daytona tradition for fans to sign the checkered finish line. Having never been a NASCAR fan, and maybe catching the equivalent of a race and a half on television up to that point, I wasn’t aware of the tradition ‘til our first trip in 2006. I’ve made it a priority ever since, even ditching the crutches last year and wincing against the pain to get there. Should you happen to watch the race, be on the lookout for the words “DAWN WAS HERE!” in one of those checkered boxes on the pavement. It’ll be next to “GO SMOKE!” and “I’M IN DAYTONA, BITCHES!”
My strategy for 2011 is to (a) not break anything this week, (b) pace myself at the open bar, (c) make fewer trips to the Jack Daniels trailer, (d) be in my seat for the final lap, a.k.a. pay attention if it rains, and (e) don’t think about the teenager or the truck or the possibility that she and her 24-year-old brother, who came home from the Army last month, will forget to feed the dog, leave the front door open for the rabbits and raccoons, burn the house down, and leave us a mess to clean up on Monday.
Oh, and (f) forget we don’t have liability insurance.
If I survive, I’ll be back with stories and pictures. If I don’t, could someone please stop by and feed the dog?