Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Benign Neglect

I'm making a conscious choice to turn one deaf ear to my daughter's musical choices. Not because I hate them, but rather because I think she needs the freedom to explore boundaries a bit. Yes, I know, it's risky. But it's only one ear and I'm only one parent...even though she does have two. I'm the only parent in this house willing to listen to what she loves to listen to. I listen because it makes her and her friends happy to sing and dance along. I listen because once upon a time, I was 13 and fell in love with music and used it to explain my mercurial emotions.

And so, on a typical school day at around 3:05 pm, here's what you'll hear coming out of my car radio:

What you gon’ do with all that junk?
All that junk inside that trunk?
I’ma get, get, get, get, you drunk,
Get you love drunk off my hump.

I'm certain that I understand it more than she does. To her, it rhymes and has an infectious beat. Where I draw the line, is when this starts to play:

Damn baby all I need is a lil bit
A lil bit of this, a lil bit of that
Get it crackin' in the club when you hear this shit
Drop it like its hot, get to workin' that back
Go shake that thang, yeah work that thang

I do, however, offer an explanation about how degrading this is to women and that sometimes, it's just not cool to talk like that. Then I quickly switch stations to distract her.

She understands and doesn't usually fight too much, probably because I do give her some slack. My theory is that total pop music banishment will only send her off to the store even faster to buy the explicit version so she can listen to it on her iPod. I figure my being reasonable will be rewarded. Perhaps with a calm conversation once a week if I'm lucky.

Another reason for not panicking is because, as I mentioned, I was there once and here's what I was listening to:

Baby, if I think about you
I think about love
Darlin’ if I live without you
I live without love
Feel like makin’
Feel like makin’ love
Feel like makin’ love to you

Or, even better:

'Cause like a princess she was layin' there
Moonlight dancin' off her hair
She woke up and took me by the hand
We made love in my Chevy van
And that's all right with me

I didn't know what that meant when I was 13. It was just a pretty tune and the challenge was to learn the words, not to practice the meaning. I'm pretty sure that the previous generation felt the same way about Elvis. It's just music, not a disease.

To me, music is the olive brance between me and my daughter. She doesn't force her preferences on me and I try not to make fun of them. In fact, some of them are pretty great. And, I think she'd say that she likes a few of my tunes once in a while. Just not when her friends are around.


At 9:56 AM , Blogger Jean-Luc Picard said...

The words over the years in songs have tended to be rather x-rated, but we never notice at the time.

Michele sent me here.

At 9:59 AM , Anonymous Last Girl On Earth said...

That's a really great point you've made. I'm sure if you listen... really listen to lyrics from days gone by, you'd hear sexual innuendos. BUT I don't think you'd hear some of the more direct innuendos that are in current music. I think it's really good that you listen to what your kid is listening to. Not only to make sure that she is not going too far, but so that YOU can maybe get turned on to something new! (And this is coming from a professional pop musician!) Michele sent me. Have a great weekend!

At 10:53 AM , Blogger Erin said...

Every generation's music grates on their parent's nerves.

Beatles? Check
Rolling Stones? Check
Madonna? Check
Guns n Roses? Check

Now, it's Britney, Christina, Black Eyed Peas ...

What will it be in 10 years?

At 11:28 AM , Anonymous surcie said...

And to think, my mom didn't like my Duran Duran music.

I can't even imagine what my son (age 2) will be listening to when he's that age.

BTW, thanks for visiting my blog.

At 12:27 PM , Blogger Plumkrazzee said...

Oh, Karen! How could I dare have forgotten Bad Company on my list??!! Saw them live when I was 16, great fun! You are one cool mom...Boundaries, not bars, is my motto as a parent. Pick your battles, you know what is appropriate or not. (And to think I turned into a civilized adult by growing up on George Michael's "I want your sex"...or Madonna's "Like a Virgin"...=)

At 3:00 PM , Blogger aka_monty said...

Good for you for at least being willing to let her push the boundaries a bit, while retaining your parental right to censorship. :)

So far (my daughter is 10) the worst I've been confronted with is Genie In A Bottle.

At 3:00 PM , Blogger aka_monty said...

Oh, I forgot to mention that I'm here via Michele's! :)

At 5:38 PM , Blogger Barbara said...

Seems like a sensible approach. Maybe I'll adopt it when my son starts listening to popular music.

At 6:42 PM , Blogger TC said...

I remember when I was younger, I listened to songs and watched movies that as an adult I heard again and was shocked. It was really x-rated, but I had no idea at the time.

At 6:43 PM , Blogger TC said...

oh and michele sent me

At 8:30 PM , Blogger Dak-Ind said...

as much as i cringe when i hear my now teen son starting to listen to "rap" music i must remember that when i was a teen and in high school, George Michael sang a song called "I want your sex" and i knew all the words. he help out until jr hi and listened to his won whatever, but now his friends are more of an influence, and rap is the popular form of misuc for his age group. i still hate it, but i know my mom hated my music, and her mom hated the beattles. its supposed to be like this.

At 8:36 PM , Blogger Carmi said...

Hey Karen. Nicely put. It's funny how history tends to repeat itself: I remember similar conflicts with my parents a few years back. Now, our 11-year-old son is on the verge of his own voyage of exploration.

Visiting from Michele's tonight.

At 8:58 PM , Blogger Sandy said...

Ahh, you're a wise mom. I'm not in this place yet. My biggest musical challenge is wishing my kid's would quietly agree to turning off the Wiggles after one run through. :)

of course both of them LOVE "oldies" music. Sam Cooke. Beatles. Even a little Springsteen and other "classic" rock legends. I don't think I ever *really* listened to those lyrics until I was a parent. Now that I do really listen, I'm glad my kids aren't. Guess it just goes to show that when you're young, it really is just about a good beat.

Michele sent me tonight, by the way.

At 10:14 PM , Blogger Mrs. Flinger said...

Your post reminds me that while I am very much "in control" of my one year old's life today, I will have to let her push her own boundries, exactly like I did when I was in the "OH MAH GAH.. what happened to my chest!" phase of life.

BTW: I have no clue who Michele is and I didn't come via her. :-)

At 10:20 PM , Blogger Trish said...

Hi Karen, Michele sent me.

Nice Blog!

At 10:23 PM , Blogger Juliabohemian said...

I remember when the song "Like a Virgin" came out. I had no idea what a virgin was. I came home from the roller rink singing the song and my mother almost had a coronary. I thought the song must be about Mary because that was the only person I had ever heard referred to as a virgin.

At 6:57 AM , Blogger kenju said...

When my kids were small, "Afternoon Delights" came out. They asked over and over what that meant and I tried to pass it off as afterschool snacks or tea and crumpets. Didn't work!

When I was young, I loved rhythm and blues, which was sometimes more subtle than current lyrics, but not much. "I really love your peaches, gonna' shake your tree" was one and how about The Midnighters versions of "Annie Had a Baby" and "Work With me Annie".

You are taking the right road, though, and you are right that if you banned it altogether, she would rebel.

Michele sent me!

At 5:49 AM , Blogger TR said...

Michelle sent me.

I can relate to your post having 3 MTV crazed children at home.

Trish R.

At 7:01 AM , Blogger Juggling Mother said...

I also think you are taking th right course. She'll grow out of it eventually (as we all did) and as everyone else has said probably doesn't even listen to the lyrics sh's singing alomg to, let alone really understand them. If you make it into a battlefield, she will just go looking for bigger & better weapons!

At 7:27 AM , Blogger Sandy said...

I'm back again this morning. Michele sent me. :) I'm enjoying your blog

At 10:41 AM , Blogger Busy Mom said...

Just beginning that journey here...

At 12:51 PM , Blogger Marisa said...

All I have to say is I admire how well you are balancing that fine line between being a mom and being another friend/peer. And I know she appreciates it, even if she doesn't say so.

At 3:53 PM , Anonymous Claire said...

I think you've got a great attitude and it'll probably get you a long way with your daughter!

At 10:00 PM , Blogger Leanne said...

Well put!
As a new mother I appreciate all the insight that experienced mothers reveal in their blogs. Thank you for the foos for thought.
Oh btw found you via Michele.

At 12:54 PM , Blogger Shannon said...

hey here from Micheles! but I come here all the time....

At 11:06 PM , Anonymous The Cryer said...

I like your take on the music sitch. We aren't to that point yet... still trying to avoid Barney and Wiggles!

Since I listened to NWA as a teenager I figure I'm doomed when my daughter is older!!

Michele sent me!

At 11:11 PM , Blogger FattyPants said...

I'm scared of what pop music will be like when my son is a teenager. As long as he's not walking around nude or catching things on fire I suppose I'll be happy. Here from micheles :)

At 11:13 PM , Blogger Plumkrazzee said...

KAREN!! It must be something about living where there is frigid cold weather that makes us more susceptible to getting excited!!!! I have a chronic use of exclamation, also. And no, not the perfume kind!!

At 9:42 AM , Anonymous LISA said...

Hello there!
I'm a single mom of an eleven year old daughter. Your thoughts soo hit home! I play the station swap on a daily basis. Its a relief to know that other moms battle this because so many kid's parents seem to not care at all what they listen to. Have they totally forgotten their jobs of protecting their kids from sometimes SMUT?

At 9:58 AM , Anonymous Lisa said...

oh and btw- I DO let her listen to her music. I know that she'll go to a friend's house to listen if I don't allow her space and the freedom to decide for herself. I know that she'll make good choices because of the morals that I've taught her. AFER ALL .. I loved BABY GOT BACK. And I turned out alright! lol (I THINK :-> )


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