The Day I Let Someone Light My Van on Fire

Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve come a LONG way in caring about what others think of me since having kids. When I first had Isaac, if he started misbehaving in public, I could literally feel my stress and blood pressure skyrocketing.  I felt like every eye was on me in the middle of a meltdown and I could not wait to get out of the store, restaurant, or whatever public place it was where “the show” was occurring.

Nowadays, I am barely phased when one of them acts up in public. Frankly, I know it is going to happen and I just don’t care enough to care what others think about it. In fact, I have considered selling tickets during some of  their latest “shows” just to make a little spare money while it’s occurring. Maybe even egg it on just a bit to see if I could get a little extra cash. :)

Just kidding.

But, it does feel amazing to be released from the need to care what others are thinking. Or at least in the parenting arena.

Because if I’m honest with myself, I still find myself caring way too much about outward appearances in a few other areas of my life. Alright, a ton of other areas.

Like for instance, say the ENORMOUS DENT  in the back of my van that I have been parading around the city for at least the past year and a half that has been the subject of at least half a dozen fights between Guy and I…well, I do care about the appearance of that dent. In fact, I can’t stand it.

IT ABSOLUTELY GRATES AT ME. (If you haven’t read my MiniVan post, CLICK HERE, for more understanding of my feelings about minivans even before they have dings.)

I think because I  feel like the dent says so many things about me that just aren’t true. Just to throw out a few…

1) I don’t care about taking care of things.

2) I’m careless.

3) I’m poor.

4) I’m lazy.


And when people are parked behind me in the preschool lineup, I so many times feel like I want to be the crazy mom who jumps out of the car and runs up to their window and freaks them out by saying something like, “In case you were wondering, this dent really isn’t my style. I don’t normally ride this way. If you catch my drift.  I really do like to take care of things. *wink*wink*) And then hop back in my van feeling better that I’ve justified myself. And made myself look crazy all at once. :)

But Guy. Good ole’ Guy Pie. He is not like me at all.

In fact, he is the polar opposite. He thinks it is a waste of money to fix it. He knows that if we spend $1,200 to fix it, we will never get that money back. He knows it might break down tomorrow. He knows the van still runs with a dent. He would much rather spend our money on things that are good financial decisions. That’s the way he rolls.

But not me. I don’t care if it’s wise. I just want it fixed. Which is why I put myself in danger one day trying to get it fixed. The shady way. To be exact.

The Fire Story

Last summer at Home Depot, a man approached me as I was getting out of my van. He said, “I noticed you have dent in the back of your van. And I work at a body shop fixing those types of dents. If you want, I can fix it right here in the parking lot for $80. You can watch me. If you call the body shop I work at, they would charge you a couple hundred more.”

Well, I seriously wanted to take him up on it. Especially when I saw his wife and young son sitting in the back of his SUV. I knew he must be desperate for money. And I really wanted my dent fixed. So I wanted to say yes.

But my mom stopped me. She walked up with both of my children attached to her and said, “Quin, it’s really hot. They need to go inside.”

And so the man gave me his card. And I told him I would call him.

Well turns out, I didn’t have to. Because he showed up at my office a week later!!! When I was by myself.  And it was freaky.

I walked out to my van to grab my bag between sessions and he walked up to my window. I saw he was in the same car with the same woman and little boy.

But this time he appeared to be on drugs. Slurring his words. And he gave me the same schpeel. But told me a cheaper price.

Because I felt like he had already found me so to speak, I said I could give him $20, which is all I had on me, to fix it. He agreed and I went inside and locked the door.

What happened next was just crazy.

He and his family all started working together on their very well-oiled system of fixing the dent. He first poked an enormous hole in my bumper.

To which, I thought. “Oh, man. Guy is going to kill me.”

Then he proceeded to rub green grease all over it.

To which I thought, “Oh man, Guy is going to kill me.”

Then he started lighting the dent on fire.

To which I thought, “Oh man, Guy is going to kill me.”

Then I watched the fire spread up the back-end of our van and saw them all panic and begin using their hands and shirts to desperately put out the fire in a panic.

To which I thought, “Oh man Quin, you are stupid!!”

Then I watched the drugged out man throw one of his tools across the parking lot after unsuccessfully being able to pop out the dent.

To which I thought, “Oh man, this can’t be good.”

Then he came and knocked on my door and said he would have to come back another day when it was warmer.

And I poked out my head long enough to say, “Sounds good.” And locked to the door again as he left.

Once he left, I then walked out to look at my van which now not ONLY HAD A DENT, BUT HAD A HUGE HOLE IN IT AND GREEN GREASE COVERING IT.

My next client walked in and said, “Wow, your bumper looks really bad. What happened?”

Can you say backfire? :)

Anyway, I was heavily reprimanded by my husband, my mom, my sister, my colleagues, my friends for ever agreeing to pay the man in the first place. I know I put myself in a vulnerable situation to be robbed, taken advantage of, etc..

But my heart for helping him and my vanity in wanting the dent fixed got the best of me.

And what I got in return was an even uglier dent/van. (And believe you me, it looks uuuuuuuuggggaaaaaleeee.)

And a good story that still makes me a laugh.

But the reason I’m writing this is because I’ve come to a decision. A decision I’ve been considering for the last few months ever since my husband and I’s last fight about the dent during which he promised me to fix the dent at the start of this year.

And the decision is this:

I don’t want to fix it anymore.

I want to leave it the way it is.

With holes and weird textures and colors.

And I made this decision yesterday when I was having a little mini-emotional meltdown internally, and I was self-analyzing my silly ways and trying to do therapy on myself, which doesn’t work in case you are wondering.

Something about the moment while I was driving in the van made me laugh. I just HAD TO STOP AND LAUGH at how utterly imperfect I am.

And it hit me.

The dent is me.

I like to get all caught up in trying to look together and keeps things perfect.

But even on my best day, they’re not. And even on my best day, I will always have dents.

And what I do with those dents is my conscious choice.

Do I:

1) Try and hide them and give others the impression I don’t have them so that they feel bad when they are struggling with a dent of their own? Or

2) Do I proudly admit I have them,  and by God’s love and grace, work through them day by day. And be okay when they are obvious for others to see?

Well through months of prayer and thought over this crazy dent in our van, I’ve intentionally decided to go with option 2.  (And I don’t say that lightly.)

I’m not going to fix the dent as a reminder to myself that I’m imperfect. And God loves me just the same. A spiritual discipline of sorts. And every time I look at it, I will intentionally work to put aside my desire to present a visage of being someone I’m not.

It will be hard. Because it is against my natural instinct. But I’m going to do it. With God’s help. :)

So, Merry Christmas, Babe. You’re off the hook.  

Or should it really be? Merry Christmas, Quin.

Because after all, isn’t that why God sent his son to this earth?

To remind us that dents don’t define us. He does.

And learning that. And believing it. Truly and deeply.

Is the best present you could ever receive.

And while I’m willing to admit my judgment isn’t always good (as mentioned above) in this case, I’m quite confident, I’m onto something great.

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Quinn is a wife, blogger and boymom with a degree in marriage and family therapy. 99% of her time is spent keeping her four boys alive and the other 1% is spent writing about their crazy times in her blog called Sanctification and Spitup also found on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. If you want to instantly feel better about the hecticness of your life, give her a follow to see it could be much worse. (She only wishes she was kidding.)

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