Friday, March 20, 2015

bad luck's a-changin'

According to a study last year by the Department of Agriculture, the average cost to raise a child in the United States is $245,000.  

Now $245,000 is a lot of money by any standards, but when I consider all of the "oops taxes" I cost my parents, I became increasingly aware that the cost to raise Baby Stephanie into Teen Stephanie was likely much higher than average.  Thanks to case of ADD, a lead foot, and just general bad luck.  I've wrecked cars, boats and a lot of other expensive toys over the years - some of which belonged to me and others that did not.

So naturally, when I discovered a dent in the back bumper of my car that was parked in my parents' driveway, I immediately assumed it was my fault.  Because it usually is.

I scanned my memory and tried to come up with a time and place when I might've caused the damage. Could I have hit something and not remembered?  Did I hurt anyone or anything else when I did?  I couldn't come up with anything.  I was confused. 

I was also amused at just how much bad luck I have had when it comes to cars, considering I'd picked up my car from the shop where it was having another dent repaired just days before.  The last dent was courtesy a valet driver in a hotel parking lot.  Getting it fixed took several months and involved dealing with the parking company's insurance company.  Really fun stuff.

Last weekend's new dent brings the total times my car has been damaged in the last five months to two.

When I went inside to tell my mom, I couldn't hide the look of complete bewilderment on my face. Two dents in five months is really bad - even for me.  She stepped outside to take a look and when she returned, she had a mischievous smile spread over her lips and a twinkle in her eye.

"Do you think your dad hit it?," she said. 

My mom, like me, has had some unfortunate incidents with cars so she knows, like I do, that where there is bad luck with vehicles, disappointing looks/sighs from Chuck (dad) will most certainly follow. 

My dad, on the other hand, is the complete opposite from my mom and me.  He takes extra special care of every toy he's ever owned, and while I do remember him receiving some speeding tickets over the years, I can't recall him ever getting into an accident or causing damage to his vehicles.  And despite having no financial stake in my car, he never wastes an opportunity to remind me to get mine washed, my tires rotated, and my oil changed.

Finding out that my dad - the same guy who has driven 220,000 miles on his current car and still manages to keep it looking brand new - was the culprit of the latest dent brought my mom and me so much joy, so much redemption.

When I talked to my dad, he apologized profusely for hitting my car and gave me several reasons why the mishap occurred: he said it was dark and he forgot I was coming home and parking in his driveway.  He also said when he saw the damage, he assumed I'd never fixed Dent #1.  He knows me so well. 

I really didn't need an apology.  The satisfaction that bad car luck happens to us all - even my dad - is worth all the money and hassle it'll take to get it fixed.  Besides, the money that I've cost him and my mom over the years, he could put a dozen dents in my bumper and not come close to making things equal.

But still, let's recap:


This is cause for celebration.  


Also, despite his annoying car reminders, my dad is still pretty much the greatest person ever and we recently made good on our promise to go to Fleetwood Mac together.  Stevie will always be number one girl-crush and hero, but I'm so glad Christine McVie is back with the band.  We danced, sang, passed my dad's binoculars back and forth (yes, he brought binoculars and why haven't I ever done that at a concert before?), and had a great time.   

And we didn't talk about cars once.