My four-year old loves to sing. She’ll sing anything. She made up a great song this past Memorial Day, a new family classic. “It’s Memorial Day. It’s Memorial Day. Everyone shout hooray, hooray!” It went on for about four verses and I was lucky enough to capture it on video. I also have her on video singing along to “Call Me Maybe.” Not my proudest moment but she begged to have a video of it.
I sometimes worry about the songs I let her listen to on the radio and after reading this article on the Huffington Post, I’m glad to see I’m not alone in my worry.
I know that I can’t keep her in a bubble but I want her to be a little girl as long as humanly possible. I know right now, she’s just innocently singing along to Taylor Swift but I still cringe hearing that innocent voice singing those lyrics.
My Mom is a Parrot head (aka a die-hard Jimmy Buffett fan). We were raised on Jimmy Buffett music, long before the masses were singing Margaritaville and reminding us all that it’s 5 o’clock somewhere. The staple in her car during our childhood was the greatest hits album, Songs You Know By Heart, aka the yellow case. Almost everyone who knows Jimmy Buffett knows this album. It’s got them all. Mother, Mother Ocean. A Pirate Looks at 40. Cheeseburger in Paradise. Boat Drinks. And then there’s the song that was always fast forwarded. The one that Jimmy Buffett once called the New Bedford national anthem (it got a lot of laughs from the crowd at that concert). The one that as a kid all I remember was the part about a water bed. Now that I’m an adult, I realize that she was trying to make sure our innocent little minds didn’t come up with questions she didn’t want to answer. I can only imagine how that conversation would have gone…
Us Kids: “Mommy, What’s ‘get drunk’ mean?”
Mom: “It means drinking a lot.”
Us Kids: “Oh, like too much kool aid?”
Mom: “Yes. Exactly.”
A moment of silence and then the chorus comes back on “Why don’t we get drunk and screw?”
Us Kids: “So does screw mean go to the bathroom? If he drank a lot of kool aid, he would have to pee.”
Mom: “Yes. That’s exactly what that means.”
Because of that glorious little fast forward button, that cassette tape hardly ever played that song. We never had a chance to really ask that question. Even if we had asked the question, I wonder if we would have understood the answer.
The scary thing for me is that the radio plays much more intense things now. That would have been considered mild today. Would have and is… It’s not just the radio though. As the article points out, it’s tv too. There’s so much that is said and it’s as if we forget that the English language is fortunate enough to have THOUSANDS of words to describe so many different things. But pop culture seems to dictate speaking in text talk, hash tags, and with a profanity laced dialogue (or monologue depending on the person) that once upon a time would have made a sailor blush.
Even today, when we were driving home, Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” came on and she was soon singing along in the back seat “We’re up all night to get lucky.” Either I have a dirty mind or she’s singing something she has no idea about. I felt like a prude. The song has an awesome beat and you can’t help but want to dance to it, no matter where you are. I like it. It’s on almost every radio station every ten minutes or so. You can’t avoid it. What does that mean as a mom? Do I resort to censorship until she’s old enough to have a better understanding even though the very thought of censorship makes me feel a little nauseated? Do I put her at a disadvantage, even at 4, because trust me, the kids know what is cool at 4. Or do I just go along and pretend like it’s nothing until she asks?
It’s such an odd question to have to deal with. I will not worry too much about it right now but I will turn off the more “suggestive” songs (read “Blurred Lines”) even if I want to listen. I’ll blast them when I’m driving to and from work. In the mean time, I will continue to play the Beatles, big bands, and folk music mixed in with the occasional top 40 radio station that incessantly plays the same five songs over and over and over and over and over and over…