Jewish Journal

Motherhood 101: Expensive Lessons

by Ilana Angel

March 20, 2014 | 2:07 pm

My son has his own car and is a great driver. He's been driving for 2 years and has the confidence of a seasoned professional. I trust him and am proud of how seriously he takes the privilege. When it comes to his car however, we have a complete disconnect and it drives me nuts. His car is littered with books, schoolwork, water bottles, and gum wrappers. I don’t get why he just doesn’t keep his car clean.

His trunk is a whole other story. There are enough clothes to open a store, several pairs of shoes, a couple of skateboards, and more bottles of water. When we go out and he wants to drive, it takes all my strength to not lecture him about his car, and inevitably I have to clean it out because it makes me crazy. I have made him clean out his trunk several times, yet it always manages to return to a state of chaos.

He is a teenager so I know he will outgrow it. I need to leave him be because it is his car, but it is hard. Several months ago I told him to have his brakes checked as I thought they were squealing a bit. He told me he would. Now, in his defense, he is a very busy kid and has a lot going on in his life, but a car is a powerful machine and it needs to be taken care of. Months later he still has not taken it in.

This week I moved his car for street cleaning and as I drove it became very clear he had no brakes. They were grinding and the car slid to a stop. I immediately took the car to a garage recommended by a friend. They informed me he had 0% brakes in the front and 5% brakes in the back. He needed brakes, an air filter, an oil change, a new belt for his A/C unit, a rear brake light, and an A/C motor issue.

I got a quote from that garage, then took it to get a second opinion. The second place, without knowing what the first place said, told me the same thing and was a little cheaper. By cheaper of course I mean he was only going to charge $1380.00 instead of $1527.00. By waiting so long to take his car in, he had done a lot of damage and needed major work done and waiting was no longer an option.

I left his car with the mechanic, and texted my son to call me when he could. He called, I broke the news, and he was sad. Sad that his car needed so much work, and even sadder that he had to pay for it. I paid for his brakes, as that is what I would have paid for anyway, but all the extra costs attributed to his waiting so long were on him. The poor boy had to dig into his savings and it hurt.

I feel bad because he feels bad. Teaching your kid a lesson is important, but it is also hard. I don’t want him to ever hurt or feel bad, but the inflated price is because he waited. Brakes with new rotors are expensive. Blowing out you’re A/C motor requires a new one instead of fixing the old one. He is 18 and insists I treat him like an adult, well nothing says grown up like an unexpected car bill.

He drove to school today and called to let me know he could feel the difference in the brakes, was grateful I got the work done, and knew being a procrastinator cost him a lot of money. I will wait a little bit to talk to him about how he put himself and those in his car in danger, but that chat will also come. Not only will he feel bad about having to spend his money, but Jewish guilt is on the way.

I am lucky to be this kid’s mother. He is smart, funny, social, popular, empathetic, generous, kind, and aware. He cares about the planet, his fellow man, and helping those less fortunate. He thinks about things, sets goals for himself, and has a clear map of what he wants to do with his life. While he may not always listen, I’m thinking spending a $1000 will clear his ears out. I’m hopeful, and keeping the faith.



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Ilana Angel writes two blogs for JewishJournal.com. KEEPING THE FAITH is about her worldview as a single Jewish mother, and KEEPING IT REAL is all about reality television....

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