Its 6:45 a.m. on a weekday and the boys are sleepily gathering themselves before heading out the door to school. Without a word, they pack up their lunches… put on their jackets… zip up their backpacks… and …
The morning silence is broken and chaos ensues as the boys bolt for the door. Dave and I remain behind, sharing that knowing glance which says, “Do you believe we actually have to deal with this shit at their age?” It’s a glance we share far too often these days. I hope our faces don’t stay that way.
Of course, I’m not speaking of gunfire in our kitchen but rather one brother claiming the coveted front seat of the car, relegating the slow-on-the-draw brother to the horrors of the back seat. It is an issue we began to face in just the last year as Chase crossed the coveted weight and height line to qualify for shotgun travel. Suddenly, Noah had some competition.
Dave sighs and heads out to the driveway where surely WWIII, complete with allegations, insinuations and angry tears, awaits him. In my attempt to offer graceful support, I yell after him, “I THOUGHT WE WEREN’T DOING THE SHOTGUN THING ANYMORE. TELL THEM WE AREN’T DOING IT ANYMORE!! TELL THEM THEY HAVE TO TAKE TURNS WITH THE FRONT SEAT OK??? NOAH GOT IT YESTERDAY SO ITS CHASE’S TURN!! ARE YOU GOING TELL THEM? BECAUSE THIS SHOTGUN THING DOES NOT WORK!! WILL YOU PLEASE….
SLAM! Remarkably, Dave is not interested in my expert advice and is out the door to manage who will actually be his wing man that morning, leaving me to wonder if I should follow along in a sweeper car in the event that he boots one or both of our offspring out the moving car door on the way to school. I decide against it, pour some more coffee, and try to empathize with the shotgun situation.
I can understand the benefits of the front passenger seat. From that position, you are the second most powerful person in the vehicle. You can choose the radio station, adjust the heater/AC, and, if you are feeling particularly douchey, you can confine your sibling in the back seat via the child safety locks. You can also reach around and effectively smack either of the back seat passengers when they don’t stop fighting on the NJ turnpike as you sit in endless traffic. (I may or may not know that from experience.)
But since the boys have a 2 minute ride from our driveway to the entrance of their school – and we have a four door car – the shotgun seat is really just a power play that yields no power –except to the parents who wig out at their kids when they are going at it full throttle at 6:45 in the morning for 120 second bragging rights. I file the SHOTGUN game in the same annoying filter as PUNCHBUGGY AND JINX with one exception:
Boys never seem to outgrow the SHOTGUN game.
When in groups, they call it well into adulthood. At some point their mothers are not around to make them take turns, so perhaps the shotgun practice isn’t a bad thing for the brothers to have early in life. They will need those lightening lips when they reach the cold hard ages of 16, 17 and 18. We women know how important this seat is to men, which is why when we go out as couples, the women offer to sit on the back seat together and let the men ride up front. Its not so much we like the back seat – its just we want to save our husbands the embarrassment of having to call SHOTGUN at age 40 and above.
I also wonder if the shot gun seat is even more coveted today than in our generation because the front seat is off limits to our children until they grow to be a certain size. This was not the case when we were children. I’m quite certain I sat in the front seat at age 2 (without a seat belt as my Mom smoked her Marlboros with the windows closed – but that’s for another day) so I never felt deprived of the shotgun opportunity. In our well intentioned effort to keep our kids safe, we have created a generation that aspires to occupy the most dangerous seat to be in during an accident.
Still, I think the primary factor behind the shotgun seat is competitiveness because interestingly, when I am driving one and not both of the boys, the lure of shotgun mysteriously disappears. I’m not entirely sure why as I am always welcoming of the company, offering words of encouragement such as, “Hey, instead of zoning out in the back seat, sit up front with me. We can talk about our feelings!” Strangely, I find myself often alone upfront on those rides.
Hmmmm. I think I just figured out a way to end the shotgun fire in my household every morning. Here’s hoping we don’t scar them for life.