Did you ever wonder about the origin of the term “shotgun” to refer to the front passenger seat of a vehicle (at least here in the U.S.)? It harkens back to the Wild West, when somebody with a shotgun would sit next to the stagecoach “driver” to act as a guard.
In our house, “shotgun” gets called quite a bit, as our two teens jockey for what they consider the best seat they can get at the moment, second only to the driver’s seat. (This, too, will change soon—too soon—as our son gets his permit in less than a month.) Nevermind that just yesterday they were both infants in rear-facing seats, and we needed a network of mirrors just to see their faces while we drove.
I personally hate the shotgun seat myself. If I’m not going to be the one driving, I prefer to sit in the back where I can’t see what’s going on in front of the car at all. This is mainly because my reaction speed and the driver’s never seem to be the same, and I’d rather be clueless in the backseat than petrified in the front.
Of course, if there are just two of us in the car, no matter which configuration—spouses or parent and child—we’re both in the front. And I tell you, when one kid is alone with a parent in the car, that shotgun seat takes on a magic of its own.
I’ve told the kids for a few years now that I’m not a taxi service. Well, I am, but they can’t make me feel like one. Especially when I’m usually doing them the favor of driving them somewhere. So, no texting somebody else instead of talking to me.
Don’t get me wrong—there are plenty of times when one or both of us don’t feel like talking. Sometimes we’re tired, sometimes we’re singing along to the radio or a CD, sometimes we’re angry and/or actively fighting as I schlep them somewhere. (If you think all of our days are sunshine and rainbows, then I’ve got a unicorn up for adoption just for you.)
But on those other days, those regular days that come rather frequently, the magic happens. Rather than the “shotgun” seat being a guard, the kids let their guard down. They tell us about their day. They talk about teachers, friends, girls, guys. They talk about the world. They share opinions, life tidbits, jokes, secrets. They confide; they trust. Those glimmers of adulthood, tinged by shades of childhood.
That magical shotgun seat. No matter how far the trip, it always ends too soon.
©2018 Rachel L. MacAulay All Rights Reserved