I picked up Hunter today from a friend’s house. As we turned into our neighborhood I saw a red sports car in the middle of the road. Both doors were open but no one was in it – then I noticed the damage. Front left bumper, headlight and the hood. I slowly came up to the scene and noticed a teenage boy sitting against the fence on the side of the road, head down looking at his phone. I was concerned for him. I asked if he needed help or wanted me to take him anywhere. He was clearly discouraged and denied my plea for help.
I went on my way.
I got home and was outside with the kids. In passing Hallie told me that there was this crazy red car that came ripping around the corner (we live on the corner) going so fast just a few moments before. You could hear the worry in her voice, “Mom, he could of hurt one of the kids.” Suddenly, my mind flashed back to the kid 100 yards away with the busted up car. My blood pressure started to rise. I asked if she saw what he looked like. He had driven in the neighborhood fairly fast and she saw him with a black hat. Shortly later he exited the neighborhood driving crazy (her words, not mine). It was clear it was the kid that I just offered help to.
I proceeded to make dinner until the voices in my head got the better of me and I marched back to my car in hopes of finding him there with a police officer. There were no police officers there. But there did appear to be his mother, father and a sister assisting him now. I hesitated in my car. Do I approach him and tell him how dangerous he was driving?
Clearly, with the accident he knew that by now. (Which I’m still unsure as to what he hit that caused that much damage.) I didn’t want to add insult to injury. But I felt so strongly that I needed to speak up. I approached slowly, introduced myself (I recognized the parents from the neighborhood) explained where I lived and what Hallie had told me about his driving. The kid wouldn’t look at me.
Instead I spoke to his mother. I wasn’t angry, I was worried. I explained how many young children live in this neighborhood including my own children. Its a dangerous corner especially when you’re speeding or looking at your phone (One girl was so busy looking at her phone on that corner I watched her blow right past a bus with it’s stop sign out with my children crossing – neither the honking from the bus driver nor my yelling caught her attention.)
The mother’s reaction surprised me – she looked me in the eyes and told me thank you over and over again. And I could see the worry and concern in her face. She didn’t want an accident anymore than me.
I told Steve the story when he got home and he was a little surprised I approached them. (I say only a little because I’m more outspoken than many!) You know what? I think there needs to be more speaking up, especially with teens as their brains are growing and developing and they don’t quite grasp some of the consequences to their decisions. We’re often afraid of being the bad guy or making someone uncomfortable or even worse, embarrassing our kids in front of their friends. But that’s okay. If my kid is out doing something dangerous, I welcome the phone call from a concerned neighbor or friend. It takes a village to raise children and it takes a village to keep them safe. We need to speak up more.