I pulled into the rocky driveway of the boys’ school and waited a minute or two before I saw them bounding down the back ramp to enter the minivan so we could make our way home. Their teacher smiled and motioned for me to roll down the window as she followed them, so we chatted for a few minutes and I had my back turned from what was going on as the kids entered the van.
We finished our short conversation and I turned to make sure everyone had their seatbelt on before we took off. At that moment, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that I had never seen before. A kid, sitting in the front passenger seat. I was taken aback and sort of just stared at my nearly 11 year-old son as to say “what the hell are you doing sitting there?”
At first I was just ticked off that he had thrown all of my things on the floorboard. See, the front passenger seat of the family minivan has always been MY storage spot for all the things. Things like my purse and papers from the doctor or classes and magazines and books and purchases during the day. And now my kid had cast them off to a spot where I could no longer reach them and replaced my seat with his pre-teen self.
“Um, excuse me, what are you doing sitting there?” I asked him.
“Mom, it’s about time I sit up front. I’m almost 11 and I’d rather be up here, with you.” Cue big, cheesy, heart-melting smile.
That night I asked my husband what he thought about him sitting up front and he said he rides in his truck that way, on the way to school every day. I had no idea. I questioned him about air bags and told him I worried that our son would get hurt sitting up there, if we had a bad car accident*.
“Elaine, he could get hurt badly in the back as well.”
I knew what he said was true but I just did not understand how one of my “babies” could be old enough to sit up front with me. It just wasn’t computing.
*checks online requirements for how old/tall/heavy kid should be to ride up front. Confirms it is okay.
The next day he hopped in the front seat again and I sort of half smiled at him. He looked at me funny since he had to move all my things again (no idea where all this stuff comes from!) and because I fussed at him a little the day before, he gently put my purse in the middle of us, where I could reach it. “Here you go, Mom. It’s there if you need it.” Click! went his seat belt.
And then I started having doubts again. Only one strip of fabric between my son’s body and that windshield! My heart started beating faster, I thought surely he should be back in at least a booster seat, with me handing him a sippy cup. This is my baby we are talking about here! And then the warning about the passenger seat air bag went off, telling me it was not currently activated. Even the minivan could tell I was nervous about this.
However, he’s since continued to sit up front and I am driving even more cautiously (don’t worry, not quite like an old woman…).
After the third or fourth time I cleaned out the front seat before he even got in the car. He was so excited when he opened the door and did not have to move anything before he sat down. I will admit, it’s actually kind of nice having a buddy sitting next to me in the front seat. We can chat and he even tells me more about day and his life now. Bonus! Also, I feel a little less like a chauffeur and well, more like a mom of older kids. Never mind that he changes the radio station the moment he sits down.
I realize I need to appreciate this now because the next upgraded seat his butt will occupy in the family vehicle is the driver’s one and I absolutely know I am not anywhere NEAR ready for that one! At that point I will be having mini-heart attacks one after the other and my least worry will be the fact that he scoffs at my Madonna and Michael Jackson songs and turns the station to the one that plays Pit Bull and Bruno Mars, basically on a loop.
About Elaine: Elaine Alguire is a wife, mom of three, writer and photo-taker. She has been blogging at The Miss Elaine-ous Life since late 2006. She is a Co-Director for the Listen To Your Mother show in Southeast, TX. Her writing has been featured in several places on the internet and she has had essays published in Precipice, Volume III and Only Trollops Shave Above The Knee.
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