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SUNDAY, JANUARY 22, 2006
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SCOTT MORRIS

Daughters know to master damage control

You never want to receive an e-mail from home with the following subject line: "I'm sorry."

You know whatever news that follows can't be good.

My new daughter, Addi, sent the message to me at work.

I don't know much about daughters, but I'm learning. I perceive Addi would make a good presidential spokeswoman. At 13, she already shows a knack for damage control. She breaks bad news in phases so when the face-to-face conference comes it won't be as bad.

"While I was practicing driving this morning," Addi wrote, "I hit the side of the house. The house is fine."

("Fine" is a relative term.)

"One piece of siding broke and I called Uncle Don and he is probably going to come over later and help me fix it," Addi continued.

(We keep Uncle Don busy around our house.)

"The car has one more dent," Addi wrote, "but the headlight is fine so we don't have to fix it. This dent is just another in the collection of porta-potty dents and other car accidents."

She's right about that.

If soldiers in Fullujah are looking for a battle-proven vehicle, they should trade their Humvees in on a 1994 Buick Regal.

Ours bears the scars from collisions with a Volvo, a whitetail deer and a truckload of portable toilets.

It's not much to look at, but as a training vehicle, it has no rival.

When my oldest son, Seth, learned to drive, he did it from behind the wheel of the Buick. Now the other children are in line.

Scary, huh?

The old car has damage stretching from the front grille to the rear quarterpanel, so it won't be a great loss if the next generation of drivers bends a few fenders.

Addi got an early start by driving to the mailbox. We live in the country and use a private gravel driveway that's about 1,000 feet long. Empty hay fields line both sides. What could she possibly hit?

Ah, the house.

The bricks took the brunt of the impact and stayed intact with no visible damage. The siding adjacent to the bricks was broken, however, along with the trim.

The poor, old Buick sustained a crumpled front bumper on the right side.

"I'm very sorry," Addi concluded in her damage-control e-mail. "Mom and I have both decided that I won't be practice driving for at least three months."

(Make that 24.)

I was ready to give her a stern lecture when I arrived at home that night.

As we surveyed the damage, though, Addi started crying. I got a lump in my throat and hugged her.

I'm still learning about daughters.

Scott Morris Scott Morris
DAILY City Editor

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