Teen Takes Responsibility for Damage

popsicle1.jpgMy Monday morning blog was going to be “The kids, the three of them, and I had a wonderful weekend visiting my brother, his wife and their two girls in New York State. I left my keyboard at four-thirty Friday afternoon and didn’t touch a computer or Palm or even a keypad until this morning, and I feel great!”

But, nothing, absolutely nothing ever goes to plan with three kids, give or take two or so, and same here. Oh, the weekend was fabulous, great visit, another sister, brother-in-law and niece and friend of hers were there too, so it was a full house. Lots of fun activities, excellent food, a food discovery (more on that later), amazement at what my brother and his wife have achieved together (more on that later too). We arived home mid-evening and before we’d even unloaded the car, disaster. Graydon, my 15-year-old son, had been doing some “hey, look at me” foolishness early in the week at a neighbour’s, and typical of the teenage brain, gave no thought to what might be the results of his brainless actions. Had I been there, I would have put an end to it before it started, but I wasn’t there. I should have been. The result of his actions was actual property damage—serious property damage.

It’s Graydon who delivered the second shock of the night. I tracked him down visiting with a friend, and he arrived home pretty quickly. I was visibly upset (past yelling, just crying) because the neighbours are incredibly good friends. Rather than start in denying and deflecting blame, Graydon said “I better go over.” His little brother asked if he could go too, but Graydon said “No. I better go alone.” He didn’t ask me to go. He called to see if he could go over, and then as he stood by the door, he said, “I want to be more responsible, so, if I did it, I’m gonna take the blame.”

We’re awaiting the tally of the costs. Moneywise, it could be anywhere from $400 to $2,000. Time-wise and inconvenience-wise and lost-fun wise, it’s hard to put a price on. Lost trust and damaged friendship, that’s huge. Can’t pay for that.

Back to paying—Graydon has $86 in his bank account, and no job. He cuts lawns. He’s going on youth-group camping trip for three weeks, so a summer job was out of the question, and it means he won’t even be here for lawn-cutting. No way are the neighbours going to be asked to do a payment plan, because they are the victims here.

So is it the bank of Mum? Trust me, If it’s more than $300, we have problems there. Bank of Dad? I suspect he’s in the same boat.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Help!! What would you do? Have you been through teenage make-good payments? What did you do? Any and all advice welcome and appreciated.

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9 Responses

  1. Wow I sure feel for you, and Graydon who I’m sure feels pretty badly for the damage. At this very moment I have no idea what you could do, but I’ll think about it. Owning up and taking responsibility is good, but it’s not so good when there are no finances to pay back damage. I don’t think I ever had to deal with teen make good payments, only “Mom will pay for that till you have enough to pay me back”… (which they always did)… oh yeah… Dylan scratched & dented my car once, but it was my car not somebody else’s and I waited 2 years until he was working full time to get payment. But he paid for the repair.
    I’ll keep thinking and will get back to you.

  2. Well, if there is no way you can pay it, then the neighbours might just have to accept a payment plan. Part of that plan could include Graydon doing work for them gratis including cutting their lawn, washing their car, shovelling snow, etc. It will work against any interest on the debt and also work to heal the friendship slowly over time as he builds their trust in him again. We all make mistakes in life, but we shouldn’t be defined by them, but rather defined by how we react to these mistakes.

  3. Wow. Tough one. I don’t suppose Graydon has anything he could sell that would cover the cost? Like a video game unit,or something? Maybe the family would take something like that as partial payment?
    And I agree with Angela … if they are good neighbours, maybe they will accept a payment plan. Hopefully they will try to see it from your side.
    Can’t do too much planning until you know exactly what the damage amounts to. Fingers are crossed that’s it’s on the low side…

  4. Dear Jacquelyn:

    I am so sorry to hear that something that could be so expensive has happened. I’ve had some problems but never anything like that, and I just don’t know what I would do except pay – that is, IF I had the money. If not, I would have to take out a loan to pay them back and get my son to work off the debt. That’s all that I can think of that I would be able to do. I sure hope that it is on the low side instead of the high which might facilitate payment!! That’s a tough one !! Good luck with getting this resolved.

  5. Give me a break! If “they were good neighbours”? Is there an assumption that they would be “bad neighbours” if they did not allow Graydon to work off his debt? These good neighbours were kind enough to allow Jacquelyn’s children use of their property with the assumption that there would be adult supervision. Perhaps Mum should take some responsibility for this fiasco herself.

  6. … “Perhaps Mum should take some responsibility for this fiasco herself.” Ok well! Do you not think that Jacquelyn takes a lot of responsibility for EVERYTHING that happens in her life? I don’t really see anywhere in her post where it may even be interpreted that she was thinking about shirking her responsibility. With every thing that she has going on in her life I have to tell you that she is my HERO! I would love to think that every teenager is programed with a “What would Mom think of this…” button but REALLY all we can do is hope they do what is right when we are not with them and what is right to a teenager, whether brought up “properly” (don’t read this as me questioning Jacquelyn’s rearing of Graydon at all) or not is VERY different from what is REALLY the right thing to do. Considering Graydon has acknowledged his wrong doing, has admitted to it, has been “man” enough to apologize and take responsibility for it, I would say there is nothing more that Jacquelyn could have done that would have stopped this. Remember back to when you were a teenager! Was your brain fully developed and or equipped with a switch that made you do good all of the time! I bet not! That is what being a teenager and growing up is all about. Testing boundaries, making mistakes and LEARNING from them. It must be nice to be perfect! I know I am not! But it helps me to aspire to something better knowing that there are people out there that are! Now I have to go and stop my dog from eating the couch!

  7. All I can say is that there are always at least 2 sides to every story. Are you sure that your “hero” has included all the facts in her story. Why have you made her into a saint? Is she perfect?

    There is a definite difference between taking responsibility for your actions,which includes paying for the damage and just mouthing a few words of regret. All I know is that the neighbours are good people and have been inconvenienced enough already.

  8. I don’t think I have said at all that she is perfect! Nor have I made her into a saint I have simply said that she takes responsibility! She is paying for it. She has dealt with HER child! What more is it that you want her to do? When you buy a home you take the chance that you will live next to either Peg and Al Bundy or the folks from Leave it to Beaver! Sometimes you get what is in between! Differences are what makes the world go round! What I am saying is that your stance in this matter, considering you are not involved, or inconvenienced, is kind of more negative than it needs to be! I don’t think anyone meant that the neighbour that is actually involved in this would be a bad neighbour if they didn’t work with Jacquelyn. I think it was just a comment!

  9. Wow! It’s an amazing study in social dynamics when there’s a hot gossip item on the street! My little street thank goodness is more like Coronation Street than Wisteria Lane (unless that’s going on too and I just don’t spend enough time out in the front yard shootin’ the breeze. I’m putting that on my To-Do List for sure!).

    I have to thank LAGGY for saying that I’m her hero. That’s one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. To my Another Neighbour, my daughter has taken your comments perhaps too close to heart, and now thinks you’ve blacklisted us. She doesn’t know what to do when you walk your dogs down the street—she used to love to pat them, now she ducks in the house and shuts the door. That’s a sad thing, but she reads my blog too, and when someone who know starts slanging your mum, you take it pretty personally. She and the kids next door are healing the rift, and trying to give Graydon ownership of his own actions. That’s what my neighbours and I have to do to. They are so much more than neighbours—godparents to my children, friends at our side when Graydon was diagnosed with cancer, when my marriage broke up. I know we’ll heal, it’ll just take time to get back to where we were.

    So I’m asking for no more activity on this subject (what blogger would ever ask for no more comments on a subject?!?!? I must be mad!!!) unless of course they’re stories of problems overcome and relationships restored. If any readers have one of THOSE, WRITE ON!

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