One of the toughest parts about when your kids matriculate from home is that there are situations that arise where you would ordinarily want to intercede and help out. Injuries, a move, household problems and projects, car problems, disputes with neighbors, quite a few things can come up that bring out the “let me come over and fix it” instinct in any engaged parent. The challenge is to know when to do it and when to resist the urge, trusting that it’s actually a learning opportunity for your child to step up and learn how to do things for themselves. Not always so easy!
This happened over the weekend with my daughter’s car. She was actually on the way from Denver to Boulder to meet up with us when she agreed to detour via a favorite Pho shop of ours near her house for lunch. Coming out of the restaurant she noticed with some chagrin that she had a flat. Not just a tire with low tire pressure, but fully flat. She told me “I saw the tire pressure light come on en route to the restaurant, but figured I could check it once I got to your place.” It was clearly not to be. Here’s what she was looking at:
Almost 45 minutes away, I could have jumped in the car and shown up to help out, but she’s 23, she has a AAA card and is able to think for herself in a crisis. Instead, I made the conscious decision to be available via phone but to not head out and not manage the situation remotely. Her car, her flat, her problem to solve.
Most importantly, I had confidence she could manage the situation. In fact, here’s how part of our back and forth via text went (I’m blue, she’s grey):
Basic stuff, but reaffirming to her that I had confidence in her ability to manage, and to me that she had already anticipated that they’d need to access the rear compartment to get the spare tire.
Okay, a tiny bit of Dad oversharing is demonstrated above, but… um… guilty as charged! Hey, give me some credit anyway: I still didn’t drive out to help! 🙂
Our hope was that she’d have a full size spare and could head out and join me anyway, but it turned out to be one of those blasted half-size temporary spares that can get you to a garage in a pinch, but certainly doesn’t double as a full replacement wheel while you’re getting your regular tire repaired. Here’s a comparison of the two:
These smaller spares are also rated for a max speed of 50mph so her car wasn’t highway worthy. A quick fix? Nope, Covid protocols means that her local tire repair place doesn’t allow walk-ins, so she was effectively stuck at home with the half-size tire until she could get her proper tire repaired two days later.
When she did finally get the tire fixed, here’s what they found:
Looks to me like a piece of a box knife, something you’d find in a construction site. It is true that two houses down from them the people are having some construction done, so my guess would be that somehow she went down their alley and drove over the construction detritus or it somehow migrated closer to their house in the way that messes can bounce down a street in the ‘burbs. In any case, problem managed and solved. Mission accomplished, car repaired and all road-ready again!
As Harry Potter would say, mischief managed!
Now, fellow parent, would you have been able to avoid driving out to assist in a similar situation?