The kids scratched up my car. - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 06:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am fuming. Help me handle this properly.

One or two or all of my kids scratched up my car. It's not a piece of junk, it's a pretty nice subaru outback wagon. There is a smiley person scratched into the side in the back, and scratches on the hood and on the side near the driver's side door.

I know they probably didn't know better, but I feel like they should know not to mess with other people's things. If they had done this to someone else's car, there is no way I would be able to pay to have it painted.

I'm not sure how to handle this. I am pretty peeved that my car is all scratched up now. I am not looking forward to my dad discovering this (he sold me the car very cheap to help me out).

Ugh.
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#2 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 06:17 PM
 
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How old are they?
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#3 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 06:17 PM
 
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hopefully it is not as bad to fix as you think? what did they scratch it up with? will some touch up paint work? they could pay for that... not sure what to say other than i would be mad too. i'm not the best when mad so i would try to cool down before deciding
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#4 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 06:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It turns out the offending child was my middle child, my 5 year old DD. I recognized the style of person she drew and asked if she did and she shook her head and said NO. Then I asked her later, "DD, what did you use to draw the picture on my car?" She replied, "A stick!" Then she got the oh geez I'm caught look on her face.

I know she didn't know it was such a big deal. I mean, it's a person with a happy face... so I feel sorta bad that I'm annoyed.

We just had a talk (all three kids and I) about respecting other people's property. That if you want to play with something, but it doesn't belong to you, you need to ask first.

Please let me know if there is anything else I should do or say.
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#5 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 06:25 PM
 
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Depending on the age of the kids, I think assigning them car-related chores would be reasonable. It takes work to maintain a car, which they benefit from. So vaccuuming, washing, etc. the car for a few weeks (or months?) might give them a sense of how to respect and take care of it.

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#6 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 06:26 PM
 
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If it was your 5 yo - she could be the one to clean out the car, and maybe vaccuum, for a while. That seems reasonable to me, and certainly is something my 6 yo could do.

Can't give up actin' tough, it's all that I'm made of. Can't scrape together quite enough to ride the bus to the outskirts of the fact that I need love. ~ Neko Case

 
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#7 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you... She is going to help me clean out the car tomorrow after school. Good timing too because I just bought stuff to clean it out really well, and got new mats for the back seat.
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#8 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 06:32 PM
 
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Depending on how deep the scratches are - there are some car waxes that actually kinda rub the paint off of the surrounding area and deposit it into the scratched area. Don't know how well it'll help you, but I used some that helped at least lighten up some of the lighter scratches on my car. The deep learning-to-ride-bike-without-training-wheels, got-too-close-to-mamas-car scratches, yeah, didn't really help those, though.

Good luck!
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#9 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 06:53 PM
 
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I agree that helping to clean out the car for a while, say for the rest of the year, is a good idea. An added benefit for you is that little hands can reach under seats and other tight places to get wrappers and crumbs that are unreachable for you. I wouldn't let her help wash the car, though. Younger children tend to cause more damage to the finish when they are "helping" (voice of experience here).

You have every right to be annoyed. You are now taking an unnecessary financial hit due to the damage, either now to get the car repainted, or later when you want to sell the car. I don't think you should feel guilty about your annoyance.

I would also have another talk with the children about respecting other people's property and how same things, like cars, are just off limits completely for play.

You could also include your daughter in the exercise of calling around and going to shops to get repair estimates, so she will get a good sense of what it will take to fix it, regardless of whether you actually do get the car repainted. Also talk to her about the expense and how that will would have to come out of the budget for other things. I think a five year old is not too young to understand and appreciate those things.
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#10 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 08:39 PM
 
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That stinks. You know, my DH just took his car into the car wash and got the Deluxe Package where they like really clean your car, shampoo the rugs, wax, buff, ect.. There were scratches on his car that I thought were there for good, but after that cleaning, it looked brand new! I was amazed. It was about $200 but IMO worth every penny. I'm sure thats much less then touch up paint or getting the entire car repainted. And, even if it doesn't get the scratches out, you get a really clean car.

Jenna in love with my DH Jon, loving our 2.5 year old, Caroline Tulip, and expecting another little one in August!
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#11 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 09:31 PM
 
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Can you claim it under your home owners insurance? There's a family down the street that had a son break their windshield and I think home owners paid for it. If it's bad enough you car insurance might pay for it too.
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#12 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 09:47 PM
 
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Touch up paint isn't very expensive. You can go to a Subaru dealer and get an exact color match. I did that when I got some scratches on my car and I want to say the bottle was less than $10. If you decide to use touch up paint, though, I wouldn't advise letting the 5 year old actually do it, as it does take precision. But have her watch you do it and explain that she created an extra expense AND chore for mommy.
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#13 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 09:53 PM
 
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So.... this child was apparently unsupervised enough to do this because.....?

I'm sorry, but really. Who was keeping an eye on the kid while she was vandalizing (yeah, that's what it's called) your car?
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#14 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 10:06 PM
 
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So.... this child was apparently unsupervised enough to do this because.....?

I'm sorry, but really. Who was keeping an eye on the kid while she was vandalizing (yeah, that's what it's called) your car?
*laughs wildly* You're joking, right? Do you know what your kids are doing EVERY.SINGLE.SECOND of every day? It might've taken all of ten seconds for her DD to scratch the paint.

If you have more than one child and you've got a lock on their presence every second of every day, then dang, I salute you. I have three (hopefully soon four) and I know where they all are at varying time throughout the day about 65% of the time. However, that's why my house is proofed to the limit and there are rules for outside engagement (I live in the woods).

You really were joking, right? :
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#15 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 11:34 PM
 
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So.... this child was apparently unsupervised enough to do this because.....?

I'm sorry, but really. Who was keeping an eye on the kid while she was vandalizing (yeah, that's what it's called) your car?


I have one kid and I don't/can't watch him all the time - anyone else notice how when you think you got lucky and get to use the potty by yourself that it gets very quiet? Anyway, this could have been done while op was unloading groceries, changing a load of laundry, attending to the needs of one of her other children! Give her a break!

I really came to post a thank you to OP because this thread started a very good conversation between my husband and I about discipline. We often disagree and I knew this would be a touchy subject for him as he takes very good care of our cars. It turned out really well and I think we now appreciate each other's view point more, so thanks!
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#16 of 33 Old 10-21-2007, 11:40 PM
 
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So.... this child was apparently unsupervised enough to do this because.....?

I'm sorry, but really. Who was keeping an eye on the kid while she was vandalizing (yeah, that's what it's called) your car?
:

Oh, that was good. I needed a laugh.

How many kids do you have?

OP: We were out hiking with some friends over the summer, and as we were all getting out of our cars and our friend went around back to get her stroller, we heard, "OH. MY. GOD."

It was pretty obvious who the perpetrator was, because she'd spelled her name on my friend's bumper. With a rock.

I really thought she'd flip her lid, but after a moment of shock, she started laughing. Later she told me it was either humor or murder, so she chose humor.

And her daughter (3) now knows how to buff scratches out of a car.
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#17 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 12:48 AM
 
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OK, I have to , too. DS1 did that when he was about 5 practically RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!

We were camping, the ex and I were sitting about 5 feet from my Jeep & DS was on the other side collecting pine cones. I could see his little feet over there and all of a sudden, I notice his little feet aren't moving. I think, maybe he found a cool bug or something, so I go over to share in his discovery.

Well, he'd discovered that rocks can be used to draw pictures & Wranglers are an excellent canvas when there's no paper to be found He was very proud.... and then a little scared.
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#18 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 03:15 AM
 
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Touch up paint isn't very expensive. You can go to a Subaru dealer and get an exact color match. I did that when I got some scratches on my car and I want to say the bottle was less than $10. If you decide to use touch up paint, though, I wouldn't advise letting the 5 year old actually do it, as it does take precision. But have her watch you do it and explain that she created an extra expense AND chore for mommy.
This sounds like the perfect consequence to me. I don't think cleaning etc is necessary, let her see how much trouble she's caused you, be genuine and she'll learn from that, is my guess.
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#19 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 03:34 AM
 
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So.... this child was apparently unsupervised enough to do this because.....?

I'm sorry, but really. Who was keeping an eye on the kid while she was vandalizing (yeah, that's what it's called) your car?
Are you kidding? :My 8yo "vandalized" my car in my very own driveway! Yes, I do let her play without me standing right next to her within 20ft of her own front door.

And to the OP, I really understand your frustration! I was sooo mad, but I knew she had no idea that her little scribbles would be permanment. She thought it was like drawing with your finger on a frosty window, though she used a penny this time.:
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#20 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 03:42 AM
 
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So.... this child was apparently unsupervised enough to do this because.....?

I'm sorry, but really. Who was keeping an eye on the kid while she was vandalizing (yeah, that's what it's called) your car?


I don't know what kind of kids you have, but really, c'mon now.


OP, I hope you get things figured out smoothly. That must've been frustrating to find.
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#21 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 12:11 PM
 
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hugs mama. i'm pretty easy going but that would have really ticked me off too. your kiddo is only 5 so i'm not sure what i'd do in your shoes other than i'd definitely have to calm down before i addressed it! then i'd have a heart to heart and talk it out and forgive her.

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#22 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 05:09 PM
 
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My oldest scratched the car right in front of me when he was 6. We made him buy touch up paint from his gift money.
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#23 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 05:26 PM
 
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I may be missing some details here... but if "she didn't know it was such a big deal," why is she being punished? Assuming she didn't know it was "wrong" when she did it. (I know she denied it when she asked which would seem to imply that she knew it was wrong, but not necessarily -- it depends on what tone of voice you used, maybe she picked up immediately that it was something that you were unhappy about, but didn't realize you would be before that.)

The "ownership" thing gets me too. Maybe she didn't realize that the car is "yours" and not the family's. I don't know, unless you know for sure that she did it maliciously or with the understanding that you'd be upset, I don't understand the point of punishment.

And personally? If it were me I'd get some clear coat and save the smiley. Maybe even paint more of them. It's just a run-of-the-mill commerical object, not a piece of art (yet.) Eh, I just don't understand why people (in general) feel such things are so very special that they have to be kept perfect. Just seems a bit narrow and petty.
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#24 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 07:31 PM
 
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I may be missing some details here... but if "she didn't know it was such a big deal," why is she being punished? Assuming she didn't know it was "wrong" when she did it. (I know she denied it when she asked which would seem to imply that she knew it was wrong, but not necessarily -- it depends on what tone of voice you used, maybe she picked up immediately that it was something that you were unhappy about, but didn't realize you would be before that.)

The "ownership" thing gets me too. Maybe she didn't realize that the car is "yours" and not the family's. I don't know, unless you know for sure that she did it maliciously or with the understanding that you'd be upset, I don't understand the point of punishment.

And personally? If it were me I'd get some clear coat and save the smiley. Maybe even paint more of them. It's just a run-of-the-mill commerical object, not a piece of art (yet.) Eh, I just don't understand why people (in general) feel such things are so very special that they have to be kept perfect. Just seems a bit narrow and petty.
The car will not last as long if the body rusts out early due to excessive scratching. And also the resale value goes down with scratches (and furthermore with extra smiley faces painted on.....). All of that can mean less cash for the family to do activities or other things that cost money. So I can definitely understand the OPs frustration. An incident like that would be the true test for me as a parent. I say this as my little cherub decided to write her name in pen all over the living room furniture last weekend. She had no idea that we would not all be delighted with this artwork and she was not "punished". But I was definitely frustrated spending my Saturday night trying various methods to remove it..... It is OK to be frustrated/sad/mad even if you do not believe what your dc did was "wrong".

That said, there are lots of great products that will likely fix this on the cheap. At 5 yo, I am sure the OP's dc can understand destruction and what the financial ramifications are. I would leave it at that.

OT, but my dh's cousins did his uncle a "favor" by washing their family car with rocks 20+ years ago. I chuckle every time I think about it, then remind myself to check on dd in the driveway again......
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#25 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 07:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Don't get me wrong... maybe fuming was the wrong word. I didn't get outwardly mad, I didn't lose my temper. No one is in trouble or being punished. I didn't ask for tips on how to punish my child, I asked for advice on how to deal with this situation in a GD forum. Naturally that would be because I'm not looking to come down on her like a ton of bricks. She didn't really know it was a big deal, but I do think she knows she shouldn't have done it.

We had a talk, like I said, about respecting other people's property. She is going to help me clean out the car (which means she gets to spray some cleaning stuff and wipe the windows... which she is thrilled about and the baby wants to help now too)... The lesson I'm aiming for is that we all make mistakes and it is a GOOD THING to do what you can to make up for it. I'm also hoping that she learns a little bit about taking good care of the things you do own so that you can enjoy them/use them longer.

Yeah, it is just a thing, but in my case I can't afford a $10 bottle of touch up paint, let alone a serious paint job. I don't really care if it's perfect, but I do have to take care of what I have because there is no way I can afford to replace or repair it as things are now.
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#26 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 07:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by fourlittlebirds View Post
I may be missing some details here... but if "she didn't know it was such a big deal," why is she being punished? Assuming she didn't know it was "wrong" when she did it. (I know she denied it when she asked which would seem to imply that she knew it was wrong, but not necessarily -- it depends on what tone of voice you used, maybe she picked up immediately that it was something that you were unhappy about, but didn't realize you would be before that.)

The "ownership" thing gets me too. Maybe she didn't realize that the car is "yours" and not the family's. I don't know, unless you know for sure that she did it maliciously or with the understanding that you'd be upset, I don't understand the point of punishment.

And personally? If it were me I'd get some clear coat and save the smiley. Maybe even paint more of them. It's just a run-of-the-mill commerical object, not a piece of art (yet.) Eh, I just don't understand why people (in general) feel such things are so very special that they have to be kept perfect. Just seems a bit narrow and petty.

I'm agreeing with this. I would much rather have a bit of one of my DC's artwork on my van than the numerous dings I find on it after a visit to the market. Just my opinion.

Michelle
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#27 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm agreeing with this. I would much rather have a bit of one of my DC's artwork on my van than the numerous dings I find on it after a visit to the market. Just my opinion.
Dings I can handle. Dings are normal wear and tear. I now have a person scratched into my car and huge scratches all over the hood. Maybe it doesn't matter to you if the value of your car goes down, but it matters to me if mine does. When I need a new car down the road, and hopefully I can afford one before this car dies, the trade in value of my car is going to mean A LOT.
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#28 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 08:20 PM
 
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Dings I can handle. Dings are normal wear and tear. I now have a person scratched into my car and huge scratches all over the hood. Maybe it doesn't matter to you if the value of your car goes down, but it matters to me if mine does. When I need a new car down the road, and hopefully I can afford one before this car dies, the trade in value of my car is going to mean A LOT.

((hugs)) i would encourage you NOT to trade your car in to a dealership, though. My car was in AWESOME condition - listed as 'excellent'. They gave me $1200 for it and SOLD IT THE NEXT DAY for $8K. Yeah. (it was a subaru outback, too - '98, with under 70K miles on it - just a few months ago)

My little ones the DAY i brought home the 'new' van (the car we upgraded to - we needed larger w/ babies on the way) took a white stick and carved into the side of it a long streak on the right passsenger door.

they're 3, 1.

And i was peeing in the bathroom right beside the door where the car is when it happened (so, yeah, things happen FAST!)

I haven't gotten the mark out yet, but I did buy matching paint at walmart.

for my subaru, i had success with paint at walmart, too - in the touch up aisle. I used an import color that matched with metallic green. wasn't actually 'subaru' brand, though. (over time you get those little rock chips on the front hood if you drive a lot) and that's how i fixed them.

and like another poster suggested do a nice thick wax and buff it nicely after you paint. it'll all blend in quite well and unless you know EXACTLY where to look, it won't be obvious - you might have a shadow of a stick figure in your case, though, but again, it won't be glaringly obvious, i don't think, esp if you paint it carefully and feather it in a bit.

((hugs)) though. sounds like you 've got a good plan on how to handle it.

I never did 'deal' with the scratch my kids did. I was more in shock than anything. I just took the stick off them and told them to NEVER do that again to the car and as far as I can tell, they haven't.

oh another thought. if the whole hood is affected, you can check out a local repair shop - for my subaru, they would charge just under $200 to redo the hood - stripping and repainting to make it all nice again. I know because I had them do it when I had a bad keyed mark on it. But that was in the days before I had kids and had more expendable cash. . ..
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#29 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 08:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks HappyFrog (and everyone else for the advice btw) :

I'm a single mom with three kids. My ex stopped paying child support 4 months ago. Paint is the LAST thing on my mind...

Even so... it's a pretty detailed drawing with clothes and shoes and facial features and hair... a stick figure would have been a lot easier to deal with.

I probably wouldn't trade in my car, but it's not like the it wouldn't need a paint job either way. Ugh.

I'm really not that upset about this. I mean, this IS a big deal in some ways, but there are other things that take priority in my life in terms of my emotional and mental and physical effort needs to go.
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#30 of 33 Old 10-22-2007, 08:52 PM
 
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So.... this child was apparently unsupervised enough to do this because.....?

I'm sorry, but really. Who was keeping an eye on the kid while she was vandalizing (yeah, that's what it's called) your car?
There's a big difference between letting a 5 year old run all over town (which I do wish was normative because it sounds pretty fun from their perspective) and letting her play in the driveway.
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