I'm sure you must be very tired of hearing from parents regarding the new attendance policy. I am not writing you to complain about it. I'm sure it was brought about by a pervasive pattern of tardiness and I hope the sweeps accomplish the administration's goals to deter bad habits.
My daughter Allison was caught dead to rights coming in late this morning. Due to the cold weather, her 1999 car overheated, which it has a tendency to do during weather extremes. We've had it in for repairs several times and no one has been able to fix the problem. We're not in the position to buy her a newer model car right now. She and her passenger, Briana F. each received a detention this morning, which is only fair. However, the comments made by Dr. H. regarding the age of her car were a bit much, in my opinion. He told her she shouldn't be driving a car that old. I wish I could have been there to remind Dr. H that just last month FCPS was forced to close because their school buses wouldn't start. I would also have reminded him, in the heat of the moment, that not all of us can afford to buy our kids brand new cars.
I know there's very little you can or even should do in this situation, but I think a little more sensitivity would go a long way in getting the students to comply with the new policy.
That’s the email I had to send this morning thanks to the $800 car. My husband and I had no intention of buying our 16 year old junior her own car. All the safety research shows that you let your child drive the family car for a while before giving them their own wheels. Our daughter, however, is not your typical teenager. She’s extremely independent, a trait that causes me to feel very proud and severely annoyed all at once. Within days if not hours of receiving her license, Allie had cooked up a deal with a family friend to purchase his 1999 Jeep SUV for $800, the exact amount in her personal savings account.
We told her there was no such thing as an $800 car. We told her that if she’d wait a year, we’d get her something a little more “this decade.” We reminded her about the high cost of gas and insurance. Then we made the foolish mistake of having a car dealer friend take a look and he told us to hop on the deal. So the purchase was made and we went about getting the car registered - $40.75 It failed two emissions inspections - $28 each. It failed the safety inspection - $16. At which point we took it to a mechanic. $250 later and the car was road ready.
It wasn’t until afterwards that we learned a few of the quirks of the car. Like the mysterious oil leak, the source of which no one has been able to locate. So every few tanks of gas, Allie has to add a character-building quart of oil. She has a daily lesson in humility every time she has to disconnect the fuse to prevent the radiator fan from running all run all night.
She holds a part time job (all her doing), the proceeds of which go to fill the gas tank teaching her fiscal responsibility as well as the art of using all the change in your cup holder to buy enough gas to get to school.
I will not tally all the repairs we have made on this beast. She has paid us back for some of them, but in a moment of Christmas charity, we forgave her remaining debt. But we have told her that we would not be footing the bill for any more major repairs. This week marks the one year mark of owning the car and she was due again for safety and emissions testing ($44), both of which the car failed. When I inquired as to the reasons, she said one of the items on the list was the fact that she didn’t have a rear bumper. Wait. What? Evidently she went to the car wash last week where it fell off. I asked my independent, sassy progeny if she complained to the car wash manager and she rolled her eyes and said since she hasn’t had much luck with car places she didn’t think it was worth the trouble.
So today, the cause of a school detention is wearing a big FAILED sticker. As the parent who didn’t put her foot down one year ago, I feel like I need a sticker of my own.