I’ve started letting the Bigs take turns sitting in the front passenger seat of my car. I’d held off as long as possible, because that’s my territory and I liked being able to put my stuff all over that seat. But having a kid in the front does have its upsides.
First of all, they don’t sit all in a row in the middle back, so they’re not touching each other (it’s rare that anyone likes to sit in the wayback anymore, with its rear-facing seats), unless someone wants to sit in the middle of the middle back so he can a) see out the front or b) watch whoever’s on either side play video games on his iTouch. I had to explain just this morning that you can’t sit in the middle unless there is just one person in the middle back or three people; that if you were using any mode of public transportation, you wouldn’t choose the seat right next to someone else if there was another one open; personal boundaries, blah blah blah.
“What’s ‘mode,’ mom?”
“ ‘Type,’ honey. Type of public transportation, like a bus or a train where you don’t already have assigned seats.”
Another bonus is that I get to have “special” time with the boy who’s in the front. Sometimes he’s reading or playing his iTouch, but often times we chat about things, like how to drive, how I know where to get where I’m going, what all those buttons on the dash are for (we discovered we had fog lamps recently, and I had to employ my son’s help to figure out how to turn them off – he enjoyed reading the owner’s manual and instructing me).
“Why is it called a ‘glove box,’ mom?”
“That’s a good question, honey. I think it’s because it’s where people used to stash their gloves, you know – like driving gloves. It was the style when cars were first invented.”
“That was before you were born, right?”
“Yes, a long, long time before!”
A bonus in disguise is that I get to listen to songs they pick out on the radio. I cringe when they scan past Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, consistently choosing to “ay-oh, baby let’s go na na na na everyday with their iPods stuck on replay, replay, replay…” (Dynamite, Replay) – catchy little earworms that revisit me when I least expect it. I am sure my own mother couldn’t stand the stuff I listened to either, just as her mother no doubt didn’t like Elvis or The Beatles. I tolerate their music because it offers me an opportunity to see into their world, and to find a way to relate with them on important subjects like why brushing your teeth with a bottle of Jack (Tick Tock) is not really something desirable and certainly something you should be belting out in public and how taking a bullet straight through your brain (Grenade) doesn’t prove how much you love someone, it just proves you’re stupid and dead.
“But Mah-ahm! It’s just a song…”
“I know it is, honey, but I just want you to know that waking up in the morning and drinking hard liquor is not a good way to start the day, and if your girlfriend really cares about you, she’s not going to expect you to sacrifice your well being, and certainly not your life, for her.”
Whereas last summer, the mere mention of a girlfriend would induce dramatic, fake gagging noises, now the reply is either thoughtful silence or an embarrassed “Mom! I don’t want to talk about that!”
“Alright,” I don’t press them. “I’m just sayin’…”