I had eight brothers and sisters. Every schoolday morning, as my mother made the rounds from room to room waking us all up, someone would shout, from the very edges of slumber, "FRONT SEAT WINDOW!" Thus the most important car pool battle of the day was settled before any of us got out of bed.
Cut to 7:36 this morning. I’m shivering in the car waiting for Youngest who has run back into the house to get his shoes. His shoes! Not something as excusable as, say, his PE uniform or a permission slip. But no, this is a child who is the first up, every day, and still has the temerity to arrive at the car without his shoes. When he returns, breathless, I say in my exceedingly annoyed tone, the one that is just shy of yelling, that he REALLY needs to learn how to get himself ready in the morning. Without acknowledging my diatribe, he proceeds to demand that Middle, who is already ensconced in the front seat, let him ride shotgun. He has an explanation for why this is only fair which, though too boring to recount, is compelling enough. I side with him. While Middle moves to the back seat and Youngest takes ownership of the front, I say sternly, "Since just the two of you will be riding to school next year, do you think it is possible for you to figure out this whole who-gets-to-ride-shotgun-and-when stuff before the school year starts?"
Dead silence. Then:
"You know," Youngest says calmly as he puts on his shoes, "if you had perfect kids, you’d have nothing to do. You wouldn’t be able to help them learn anything. There’d be no fun in parenting."
There are moments when you realize with equal parts chagrin and astonished pride that your child has leapfrogged ahead of you – way ahead of you.