“Oh for shit’s sake, will you two knock it off?!”

“But Mooooom… she ALWAYS gets the front seat!”

And 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . . we count down to older sister eye rolling followed by the smackdown with a rapier sharp-cut to the solar plexus, gutting her little brother. 

Now she is mad, and he is crying inconsolably in the back seat – and we aren’t even out of the driveway.

I need some help with this “front seat privilege” issue.

The boy has recently become heavy and tall enough to technically be allowed safely in the front seat of our airbag enabled vehicles. The girl is a solid 20 pounds over the safety weight and is very tall for her age at 13. She has had front seat exclusivity for over a year.  He feels he should be able to step into his birthright and have it at least half the time.

There was peace in the land until recently, because he would never consider breaking the laws of the land when I told him the police would give me a ticket for letting somebody too light in the front seat. I hooped myself with that one. 

Here is the groaning conundrum: She is older, well behaved, a straight A student, helpful and generally owns her position as queen of the house, but a good Queen, more like Elizabeth, not like Maleficent. The boy is, um . . . harder to raise. He argues about every . . . single . . . fucking . . . thing. With me, with his Dad, and particularly with his sister.  He fights getting out of bed in the morning for school, and it seems like a continuation of the hairy fit he threw when he had to go to bed the night before. Every night, every morning. 

This is the kid who loses a full wheelbarrow of privileges at least once a week. There are days when he is lucky he gets to eat with the family and not out in the dog house. When it comes to the car, it would gall his sister, and frankly, me, to relegate him to anything but the trunk on some days. 

I have been letting him have the front seat when she isn’t in the car with us. Maybe that established the wrong precedent by giving him a taste of the throne of power. Either way, we seem to be locked in this endless debate and I am tempted to let her drive so I can curl up in a fetal ball in the back seat and we can just ride in silence. Three years . . . in three short years we will hand her a set of keys and wave bye-bye as she takes her brother to soccer. Totally worth it. 

In the meantime, does she have older child privilege? Sweet temperament first choice? Does he have rights, or do I just put them both in the back seat and turn up the tunes? 

Did you have this issue? Help a girl out, what did you do?

Magnolia Ripkin
Author

Our Editor-in-Chief Magnolia Ripkin is sort of like your mouthy Aunt who drinks too much and tells you how to run your life, except funny... well mostly funny... like a cold glass of water in the face. She writes a flagrantly offensive blog at Magnolia Ripkin Advice Blog answering pressing questions about business, personal development, parenting, heck even the bedroom isn't safe. She is the Editor in Chief at BluntMoms. Other places to find her: Huffington Post, The Mighty and Modern Loss. You can also check her out in two amazing compendiums of bloggers who are published in “I Just Want To Be Alone.” And most recently, Martinis and Motherhood, Tales of Wonder, Woe and WTF

16 Comments

  1. Alison Huff

    Once my youngest got a taste for the Throne Of Power, it was all over. Anytime we left to go anywhere together, both of my daughters would shove and attempt to trip each other in an effort to be the first one to arrive at the car while simultaneously shouting “SHOTGUN!!!” along the way.

    Yes, it was as fun to watch as it sounds.

    I finally made a rule that’s strictly enforced – I don’t give a flying fuck who gets there first or who called shotgun the loudest. The child who sits in the front seat *now* will sit in the back seat on the way home. (And if it’s a multi-stop trip, they will alternate each leg of the ride.) Surprisingly, they’re pretty okay with this arrangement. If they argue over who goes first for too long, I’ll leave their asses in the driveway. (It only took one time doing that to get my point across. Yeah, that was fun to watch, too. I’m a mean person.)

    Music choice is another beast altogether. Oh my fucking gods, can they ever agree on anything?!

  2. Magnolia Ripkin

    I would lose my mind if they also didn’t agree on music, so I just play what I like. Flock of Seagulls anyone?

  3. If I had a dollar every time I heard “shot gun,” my kids wouldn’t need a college fund. The only time they race to get to the garage and in car is when they are fighting over the bloody the front seat.

    I sat trunk when it’s raining, strap then to the roof otherwise little shits. Meanwhile, we take turns and pretend we’re civilized but it’s a freaking battle every time.

    My ace in the hole: my younger son tends to get car sick on longer rides. If he’s in front, he’s ok, so I ask his brother, do you want to hear him puke, or just sit in back? Done and done.

  4. Kristine Laco

    Same shit different car. My purse has yelled shotgun to avoid the running in a parking lot while tripping each other. Why we had two, I will never understand.

  5. There’s an easy fix to this problem: neither of mine sits in the front. Ever. Yes, it is The Throne of Power- MY power. Sorry, Underlings, no power for you.

  6. I have set weeks, Sunday to Sunday. If the other one is not in the car, I don’t care, but if it’s not your week you stay out of the front or you lose a whole day. I was so tired of the fighting and such, and we had actual bloodshed when one of my girls got hit in the face with a car door, so after making the front seat off limits for a month I set it up in stone…..

  7. We do one week on, one week off. This week it’s the older one’s turn in the front. If we’re going on a long drive for a vacation, then one gets the front on the way there, the other on the way back. This has worked really well for us for the last couple of years. They still try and talk each other out of their turns and make deals but all in all they’re pretty good about it.

  8. My mother used to bomb around town in her station wagon with BOTH of us in the ‘trunk’. Remember the station wagons that had seats in the back? Those were amazing. I say we make a statement to bring that shit back. I’d say pick days. Any day that end in ‘Y’, they both sit in the backseat. ha! Really though. Half the week one gets the front, the other half, the other gets the front…?

  9. My sister and I used to argue over search selection when we were kids too. Age didn’t matter, because there were no air bags, and seat belts were optional. My parents made us do the switch each time we got in the car or made us both sit in the back.

    No exceptions in my car. Kids in the back. Unless you’re over the age of majority. Then you can ride in front.

    But the radio is still mine.

  10. Seat selection.

    And I was so careful with my typing.

    Damn.

  11. My younger brother and I used to fight about this daily until my mom came up with the rule: I got odd days in the front and he got even. I’m not sure he realized there are a few more odd days in the year but I was older so I deserved them!

  12. Magnolia Ripkin

    This one may be my best bet. It has to be better than what I do right now. I just leave them standing in the driveway as I back out slowly blasting 80’s Brit Punk as loud as my Mini Van sound system can go.

  13. Jill Pond

    Oh dear god, is this what I have to look forward to? My 5 and 6 year old girls fight over everything, and I’m pretty sure my younger daughter is distantly related to your son. The shit hits the fan more than I’d like to admit, but this shot gun issue seems like it could really fuck up the balance of the universe. I’m glad you brought it up as a plan is forming in my head as we hypothetically speak. Would it be possible to just trade weeks? or months? Am I being naïve? Just bitch slap me if so, because you’re in a whole ‘nother league, sister. I can still pull the wool over my kids’ eyes, so my job might be just a hair easier.
    Loved this!

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