"Your daughter doesn't sit in the front seat yet?" "No…well, I hadn't really thought about it." "How old is she?" "Eleven." "My daughter started sitting in the front seat around her age, and it changed the dynamic of our relationship." "What do you mean?" "It put us on a level field. When she sat in the back, it was like there was a wall between us, but when she moved up, it became easier for her to have conversations with me. It allowed us to grow closer."
I have tried to follow whatever legal parenting guidelines exist. Car seat? Check. Bicycle helmets? Check. Somehow, I had missed the arrival of my girl's front seat eligibility as per age/weight/height guidelines for safe automobile ridership. Or, perhaps, I was subconsciously trying to keep the familiar in place. For a few weeks I had thought about repositioning her, and, one day when I was picking her up from school I offered, "Do you want to sit in the front?" "What? Yes!" Of course.
That settled it. There was no turning back. She was so excited to sit alongside me and I was glad for the company. On a trip to the library, she suggested that we check out audiobooks to listen to in the car (usually something we reserve for long road trips). We started with Neil Gaiman's "The Graveyard Book", the story of a boy who is raised in a cemetery by its ghostly residents, and is punctuated by the swoon-worthy voice of Gaiman as narrator. We moved onto the likes of Meg Cabot's "Airhead", in which a nerdy student with no interest in fashion is transformed into a teen supermodel after a full-body transplant. How does that happen? Once you get around the creative license, it was an entertaining mom-daughter read. Judy Blume was next with "Just as Long as We're Together," which deals with a middle school aged girl coping with her parents' issues and the trials of making new friends and keeping old ones. After several more Judy Blume titles, we have moved onto the first in a series, "Summer Begins" by Elizabeth Doyle Carey, a tale of four female cousins who spend the summer of their twelfth year on Gull Island with their grandmother.
With the final days of sixth grade winding down, there are all kinds of transitions on the horizon. It feels like my girl and I are right where we need to be, both with a clear view of the road before us. Have your kids moved to the front, yet? If so, there's a good chance that the library can provide you with the perfect soundtrack.
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