The coveted passenger seat of the car, claimed before siblings or the dog. What a win! The control of the radio, prime scenery viewing, and no shoving, pushing, or line-crossing to contend with. The triumph though, can be claimed by the driver as well: we’ve got a stake in the battle for the front seat.
For the length of the ride – and in Texas, it’s at least 20 minutes wherever you go – you have a captive audience. Wifi in many vehicles can be turned off, the radio might have only talk stations pre-programmed. Your kid is in earshot, and – Dr. Paul Ekman, father of human emotion research would say this is key – you aren’t looking directly at each other.
This is optimal connection opportunity: with very few distractions, you have the chance to hear about soccer practice, SAT’s, who is dating who… okay, okay, I’m not really selling this. It’s a way to check in and see how your progeny is feeling. Are they really okay after losing a beloved family pet? How is their best friend’s new relationship affecting their friendship? Are they struggling with identity, weight, popularity, academics? That front seat can be anything from a chance to share plans, to try out new ideas, to test a life theory or a boundary, or collaborate on an upcoming social event. Or sing Top 20 radio together.
The best conversations aren’t always serious and face to face: sometimes, they come with rush-hour traffic, spilled Starbucks and a sound track.
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