Friday, July 29, 2016

The front seat

As I drove off today, Graham and I passed Natalie as she was walking to her friend's house.  "Why is Graham in the front seat?", she asked.  I slowed down and said that it was for the same reason that I had her sit in the front seat, so that we could have good conversations.  "I didn't sit in the front seat until I was older," she said.

It is all too easy to fetishize the equal treatment of children. My mom was very assiduous in this practice, going so far as to count the Hershey's kisses that went into our Christmas stockings to make sure that we got exactly the same. In general, we try to do this in our household, if not to the same degree of granularity as that.

But this can obviously be a double-edged sword, as in Natalie's comment this morning. She perceives unequal treatment in the matter of the front seat, Graham got their earlier than she did. The fact is that Mary, with her strong safety inclination and risk aversion, espoused keeping the kids in the back seat for longer, maybe didn't even think of moving them there as a sign of promotion towards adulthood and relationship progression (i.e. I view it as putting the kids on more nearly equal footing with us).

For me, getting Graham up there maybe a little earlier than Natalie got there is an effect of having learned from parenting Natalie that the front seat was a good idea as a way of changing the conversation.  But now I need to talk to her about it.  The good news is that, because she is so mature and well-adjusted, I think she will be OK with it when I explain it.

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