Thursday, August 23, 2007

Couldn't sleep

My daughter got in a car accident last night. Driving down a narrow road, a vehicle coming towards her. She was boxed in. Caught the front bumper of the other car. She got charged with taking undue care. Thankfully, no one was hurt. But she was terrified.

The man in the other car was intimidating. He didn't yell. He didn't scream. He demanded her papers. Turned his back on her and proceeded to call the cops. It was all her fault, he said.

She called me. Crying. Her words spilling out in one run on, incomprehensible sentence. I drive to the scene. She's still crying. The man is standing in silent condemnation.

She doesn't want to lay 100% of the blame on him. But he is 50% responsible she says.

It's his word against hers.

His is louder. More convincing. More definite.

She can only cry through the interview with the police. Nervously tell her disjointed story of seeing the vehicle parked on her side of the road. The oncoming vehicle. Too tight on the passenger side. She swerves. Smack.

The police officer gives her the ticket. She starts to cry, again.

What about the bully game the other driver was playing, I ask? There was nothing between him and the curb. He had a whole car width on his other side, but he chose to drive down the middle of the road, boxing my daughter in.

Were you with her in the car, the policeman asks?

No, but she is adamant that she never crossed over the centre of the road. And when I got here I heard him on his cellphone. Telling whoever would listen that it was all her fault and yet, he never said a word to her.

I can only go on what the other driver wrote in his report and what your daughter wrote and said.

But she could barely say her name, I replied.

And therein lies the crux of it. In a battle of he said, she said, when what he said is deliberate, thoughtfully constructed to ensure he does not take any blame, rational, carefully worded to tell only his side of the I'm not to blame game, my daughter's confused stumblings have little strength of conviction.

Liseanne, I tell her in front of the police, you need to go to court and fight this.

I can't, she cries. I have school. I don't have the money. I have to pay $600 for my books. I... her voice falters as she starts to sob.

The police man stands stoically in front of her. It is your right to contest this ticket, he says. I strongly suggest you exercise that right.

The police leave. My daughter and I stand on the street, my arms wrapped around her shaking shoulders.

My mind scurries in circles. Frustrated. Angry. I am a mama bear protecting her young.

It isn't the accident -- though the effects on her insurance will definitely be felt.

It is her capitulation. Her defeat. Her slumped shoulders, shaking with tears, as she tells me, it's all my fault.

At my insistence she must fight this, she cries No! I can't.

I know that voice. It reverberates through me. Echoes in my past.

She must fight this if for no other reason than to learn, she has a voice. Just because a man stands in silent condemnation of you, doesn't mean you're wrong. Doesn't mean he's right. Doesn't mean you must accept whatever he says is truth.

She must fight this to know she has a choice. To fall victim to her fears. To stand up with courage and be heard.

She must fight this to know she counts. Her truth is worthy. She is worthy.

I want to fight this for her. I want to roll back time, scrape the tire marks off the pavement and straighten out that swerve that took her into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

I want to make it all right.

And know, I cannot. The past happened. I can't change it. I can't make her straighten out. Stand up.

I want to because I see the road before her. I see the tracks leading into oncoming traffic again and again. I see her becoming my history.

I want to stand in front of the oncoming traffic and scream. STOP!

And I can't.

I breathe. That was then. This is now. This is her life. I can only stand beside her.

My daughter will do the right thing.


CZBZ said...

"...In a battle of he said, she said, when what he said is deliberate, thoughtfully constructed to ensure he does not take any blame, rational, carefully worded to tell only his side of the I'm not to blame game, my daughter's confused stumblings have little strength of conviction."

Most of us know this situation only too well after having been blind-sided ourselves. Bless your daughter's heart, Louise!! It's hellish being bullied by a brutish, deliberate malcontent who obviously lacked concern for your daughter. How could he not 'feel' for her?? How could he not see beyond his arrogant stance and offer comfort to her as a young woman? How could he be more concerned about his legal stance than he was his moral stance to her as a fellow human being?? (Obviously, he was well-schooled about NEVER taking responsibility for any mistake when the police asked for his statement.)

While most of us realize how important it is to speak up for ourselves, we must pick our battles carefully. You daughter will do the 'right thing' but it might mean paying her fines and then focusing on school instead of a court case.

I'm glad to read she was not seriously injured and thank goodness you could show up to give her emotional support.


M.L. Gallagher said...

Thanks CZ -- Your words are balm to my troubled spirit.

And you're right -- the right thing for her is not what I want -- it's what is best for her.

Mama bear stroking her cubs back and calming her pounding heart.

Thanks my friend.


CZBZ said...

When it comes to raising kids, Louise, I've learned every lesson THE HARD WAY.