In The Front Seat

The Captain turned 13 a week or so ago, and it was kind of no big deal, despite the official Dawn Of Teenhood in this house. He didn’t want a party – which I was grateful for, I am OVER parties – and just had a buddy over to play video games all afternoon, then went to a Scout event after dinner. It was very low key and although we made lots of jokes about how he was supposed to turn, like a werewolf, into a cranky, eye-rolling monster the minute the clock struck midnight on his birthday, he’s still pretty much the same old guy.

A few days later it occurred to me while we were out and about that he’s now allowed to sit in the front seat. Actually, I don’t really know the official rules – I never did quite sort out the car seat thing, I admit here (come and get me, cops!) that we kind of winged the whole thing. But isn’t it a rule or something that 13 means front seat? So one day, coming home from an errand, I let him join me up front.

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I am very, very unused to having someone else in the front seat. Someone else to handle all the radio requests from the back seat was so awesome, although not having full control over the volume was not as awesome. Someone to chat with was kind of cool, but also kind of distracting. Having a nice opening in the middle of the back seat for a change, for maximum rear-window viewing, was nice. Having someone able to fiddle with all the heating and cooling settings created an interesting power struggle. We’ll have to work on that.

It was odd, but cool, but weird, but nice. More than anything it marked him as being One Of Us now, instead of One Of The Children. It’s a good reminder that other things will be changing soon, more power struggles over things much more important than the heat level in the car.

On the other hand, it turns out he doesn’t actually weigh enough to trigger the air bag in the front passenger seat. I’m not sure what the minimum weight is, but with him in the seat there’s a constant blinking light warning us that the detected weight is not enough. So for my own peace of mind, it’s back to the back seat for him until he manages to eat a few more pies, at least most of the time. But soon, he’ll be ready for the front half of the car, and the next phase of life.

6 thoughts on “In The Front Seat

  1. I remember how weird it was when each of my first two were big/old enough for the front seat! So weird to have them NEXT to me! I like having someone else to program the GPS.

  2. Ha! We did that too, let him up (even though he’s younger than 13) and then put him back (willingly, as it turns out, by him) because of the airbag thing. I think the rule isn’t so much age, but height and weight (which, as i”m sure you’re aware, can have huge discrepancies among same age kids around this age group).

    He does still occasionally sit up front with me, like if it’s raining and I drive to get him from the bus at his sister’s school. We’re just driving 5 blocks, and if we head up to the street and run an errand, it’s ok too. It hasn’t been an issue. For him or for me.

    But for longer car trips, or highway driving, he’s still in the back.

    1. I just did a bunch of searching online, and it turns out that the airbag not coming on is actually by design. They are detecting the weight of the person in the passenger seat and if they are less than 80 pounds (for our Toyota sienna – on other cars it’s even higher), they deliberately turn off the airbag because they assume it’s a child, and it’s way dangerous for a child to be hit by an active airbag.

      So turns out the “airbag off” light is a GOOD thing! Who knew :). Guess someone in this house will be riding up front a little more often!

  3. In France, you had to be 12. We were all looking forward for the privilege of seating in the passenger seat! Mind you, at the time, we had no car seats at the back, I never had one. I think only my brother (born in 1992) had a booster seat, some kind of regulation was passed around this time.

  4. bibliomama2

    “odd, but cool, but weird, but nice” nicely sums up so much of kids getting older. I really like when I’m taking one of them somewhere and they can sit beside me instead of behind me. It’s so companionable.

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