I don’t know why we don’t make a bigger deal out of the transition from a kid sitting in the backseat to the front.

We celebrate every other milestone with Pinterest parties and YouTube videos, why are we not at least making cakes for this?

If I had to rank it, Jude becoming a front seat passenger is in my top 3 milestones, hands down.

I grossly underestimated how lonely the front seat was.

I’m up there, by myself, listening to their music and hearing them talk, and when I want to jump in or ask them to repeat something, I have to turn the radio down and adjust the rear view mirror to meet their faces- LIKE A CHAUFFEUR IN SOME WEIRD RICH KID MOVIE PROBABLY STARING WHATEVER CULKIN KID IS THE YOUNGEST RIGHT NOW.

Jude has been casually jumping in the front since his 12th birthday. Mostly when I pick them up from school or run to the store, nothing full time or anything, and it’s never been for long enough to provide any form of notable substance or shift in dynamics.

I was still mom/driver, the good conversations were happening in the back, and he still inserted himself in them every chance he could, the only difference being his voice now carried a slight hint of superiority at having his own temperature controls and seat adjustment buttons.

I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER MY AIR CONDITIONED RECLINING THRONE WYATT.

Our road trip to Maryland last July was a game changer.

Andy couldn’t join us, and I was faced with the choice of bowing out of the trip all together, or driving the 450 miles with the kids myself.

I’ve driven to Florida alone with them before a few years ago. It wasn’t ideal, but it was journey we’d made by car 2-3 times a year for years by then, so I was largely comfortable, if not bored. I just put a movie in for the kids, and got by listening to the first season of Serial on my phone.

But, I’d never driven to Maryland, the forecast was a monsoon, and I’d heard rumors of miles long bridges over oceans, which if you know me… it’s a lot. It’s a lot to ask.

Note: Did you know that there is a lane you can pull over into before crossing the Chesapeake Bay bridge that allows a chill person to hop in and physically drive you over the nightmare so you can keep your eyes closed the whole time? Yeah, me either. I found out about it on the other side. 

Jude was my copilot to Maryland.

He sat beside me checking the weather apps, navigating city turns, counting down the miles to the next rest stops, and more importantly, falling in love with my music.

One of the amazing things to come from parking children in front of tablets (yeah, so what?), is that I no longer need to buy cars with DVD players and televisions, because they simply don’t use them.

Want to make me the ideal family car? Give me apple chargers at every seat and free wifi. Oh and a fridge. Why have we not done a fridge yet?

Wyatt and Gigi were happily in their own space, playing games with each other on their tablets and chatting, leaving Jude to me, at last.

After burning through his normal go-to playlist of Coldplay, Khalid, Outkast (thanks Andy), and a slew of Cavs podcasts, he turned his attention to me.

“What kind of music do you want to listen to?” he asked.

Ugh, finally.

And so it began, hours of introducing him to my 90’s staples like Oasis, Alanis Morissette, The Verve Pipe and Smashing Pumpkins. We screamed the words to The Cure and Hall & Oates. We played all the songs my dad listened to on homemade mixtapes from the radio in the 80’s; Jim Croce, The Allman Brothers, Led Zepplin, and finally Queen.

I will never- never– forget watching Jude listen to Bohemian Rhapsody for the first time. The way his face faded from ridiculous laughter and confusion to love over the course of six minutes.

Again.

Again.

Killer Queen.

Another One Bites the Dust.

How had he never heard this before, he’d ask me as he added the albums to his spotify playlist and googled deeper and deeper into the facts of the band as he listened.

Yesterday, he and I drove to a small cinema a few towns over and sat in a theater with ten other people to watch Bohemian Rhapsody.

As an aside, I love small town theaters. The prices are usually lower, the crowds are minimal, and we recognize all the people in the commercials played on the screen before the previews start.

Oh look! It’s Aaron and Fernando in the ad for our county! Hey look, Kaden is in that keep kids from smoking PSA! I’m gonna add the tree lighting date at the pioneer village to my calendar, thanks for the reminder, guy who fixed my car last year!

The movie was like an hours long rock concert, and Jude leaned forward in his seat and devoured it. He even cried once, which is something he’s totally okay with admitting.

“Is this true?” He looked back at me.

“Did this happen?” He’d whisper.

We stayed until the last credit rolled past, and he asked for my phone as we walked out of the theater.

He had the soundtrack playing the moment I started the car, while I was busy trying to minimize the red faced, puffy eyed outcome of two hours of tears.

I cried so hard you guys. There are always a myriad of issues and missing pieces with biopics, but I couldn’t dispute the very real feeling of seeing Rami Malek transform into Freddie Mercury on screen. Even seeing his profile made my breath catch a few times.

Just like the feelings of curiosity and excitement I got watching La Bamba with my dad, and staying up all night at my friend Nikki’s to secretly watch The Doors, Jude has been bitten.

These are the cool front seat moments of parenthood.

You put up with the Backyardagins and Baby Sharks to get here, and just like finally potty training them or teaching them to cut their own food, I don’t want to ever go back.

 

 

 

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