The problem with having a child old enough to sit in the front seat of your car is that you lose your shelf space.
I finally called the sheriff's office last week and they told me that as far as they were concerned Tabitha was more than welcome to sit up front with me. "Are you sure?" I asked them, because I knew what would happen next. "Oh, yes," they said.
So I armored myself with earplugs and the sort of chest protection worn by Major League catchers - men who routinely position themselves awkwardly enough that they can't take any evasive action and then let other men throw things at them at speed approaching one hundred miles per hour, so you know this stuff has to be good - and let Tabitha know that she could not sit up front.
And what a foresighted soul was I.
Except for when all four of us are in the car, she hasn't sat in the back since. On the one hand, this is kind of nice. She's getting all grown up and all that, and it's a lot easier to talk to her this way. On the other hand, I no longer have anyplace to store my stuff.
I carry a lot of stuff in the car with me. Books to read. Posters for various shows that I need to distribute in order to publicize said shows. Random food items. Papers. CDs. The occasional cat, at least on veterinary days.
Often there is so much stuff on the front seat that the car beeps at me. It took a while for me to figure out that the passenger seat belt alarm is keyed to a weight sensor and that this odd noise was the result of my stuff exceeding the threshold. It has taken me even longer to figure out how to care about this - I mean, the solution is obvious (fasten the seatbelt and be done with it) but I just can't bring myself to spend the energy to do that. Eventually the beeping stops, as if the car were just resigned to being ignored. Join the club, I tell it.
But now I need somewhere else to put all this stuff.
I can't put it in the back seat where Tabitha used to be, because when she climbs in she dumps all her stuff there and her stuff is usually wet with melting snow, which does not sit well with the kind of stuff I carry (vide supra).
I can't put it on top of the dashboard, because it slides around and will eventually punch a hole in the door and then all the air will get sucked out and we'll die from pressure loss. Or is that with planes? I can't keep track.
I can't fling it into the way back, because my arm isn't that strong and besides, even it I could there is no guarantee I'll ever get it back. There's a lot of stuff back there, and some of it has evolved and developed legal standards for territoriality. "Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiine" I hear it cry when I forget and toss something back there anyway. Eventually I will take an industrial-sized can of critter-killer and commit xenocide against these intruders, but until then I'm lulling them into a false sense of security by ignoring their plaintive moans of ownership.
The solution to the problem just changes the problem.