The art of riding shotgun
While school is out this summer, I’m teaching my young teenaged son other important skills he’ll need in his life, like how to do his own laundry and make scrambled eggs. Since much of this summer is spent on family road trips, I’m also attempting to school him another invaluable life skill: how to ride shotgun.
This one is proving much more difficult.
He has spent his entire young life relegated to the back seat where stale pretzels and forgotten dreams go. Now that he is older, he gets the distinct honor of riding in the front seat now and then. But as with driving, I have to remind him that the passenger seat is not a right but a privilege and he should treat it as such.
Part of the passenger’s duty is navigation. I had a complete lesson prepared on how to read a map, measure mileage with the tip of your finger and what those little red numbers meant scattered along the interstates of the atlas. Reaching over my navigation charts, he took four seconds to type in the destination address on the GPS and told me that we’d be there in exactly 5.8 hours, without ever referring to a mileage table or doing the math.
When I was about to demonstrate the subtle nuances of radio tuning -- how to precisely calibrate the dial when traveling rural roads and under overpasses -- he asked me what “static” meant and turned on the satellite radio as he put in his earbuds for his iPod.
The lessons in going to AAA for a Triptik and traveler’s checks went over much in the same vein.
Instead of scouring billboards for the next Stuckey’s along the Interstate, he is Googling the POIs for the next 25 miles, and updating his status on Facebook. When I first was allowed to ride shotgun, the best POI of the trip was selecting my handle to talk on Dad’s CB radio, and my status was “What’s your 20?”
This trip has been less of a tutorial for him and more of a sobering shot of “Hey you kids get off my lawn!” moment for me.
If I feel this old while he’s sitting up front, how decrepit will I feel when he’s in the driver’s seat?
~ Tracey Henry, Suburban Diva
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