The Driver’s Seat

I’ve been in homes where a certain seat was perpetually taken, set aside for Dad or Grandma or even for the dogs. But, except for the dining room table, the seating at our house has always been open to any comers. I didn’t really think anything like Archie Bunker’s chair would ever happen to us. I do find that we’ve got a related phenomenon happening right now, though. It’s what I like to call “the driver’s seat.”

Yup, one day I came home from picking Hayley up at school, and there it was in our den—one of the normal armchairs from our den, draped by Jake with a pink, king size, wool blanket, and repositioned directly in front of the television. And there in the driver’s seat was Jake, Wii wheel in hand, playing the seizure inducing crowd pleaser, MarioKart.

Now, I’ve seen different versions in different homes—the legless rocker, the leather recliner (a la Friends)—but no matter the iteration, the driver’s seats share a unified purpose: to create a direct line of sight between the gamer and the screen. And I’m thinking it’s a boy thing, too, because when Jake was out yesterday, guess who ended up in the driver’s seat? Right—it sure wasn’t the dog.

I remember getting a little anxious when the younger versions of my children would move furniture (usually their beds), but somehow the driver’s seat doesn’t bother me. It’s kind of a neat little dose of self-expression, like, “I’m into this game, and I’m going to stake my space right here, for ease of play and my viewing pleasure.” When the mini-fridge and foosball table move in, I guess I’ll start to worry, but for now I’m thinking, “Good for you, kid—make yourself at home.”

The driver’s seat is part of an interesting transition, I think. It’s one in which the children have started having preferences, not just for food (they’ve had those all along). For Jake so far, I’ve discovered that he likes classical guitar but not rap, cargo pants but not jeans, and those pain-in-the-butt mechanical pencils over the old fashioned kind. For Hayley, it’s also mechanical pencils and jeans all the way, but 2 hours at the mall and 7 pairs of failed “skinny” jeans later, and we’ve had to adjust our expectations on that one; stick a mechanical pencil in the pockets of one those, and you’ll perforate your keester faster than you can say, “I should have gone with boot cut.”

So, as with so many things, the driver’s seat isn’t just a thing that happened. It’s now an icon of growing up—growing into the pre-teen and teen years, when we’ll start rearranging the furniture to suit our gaming needs, getting picky about our school supplies, and buying clothing at stores with music louder than normal conversation.

I guess if they’re playing classical guitar, we’ll be in good shape.

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