One of the unexpected joys about parenting for me has been the music. More specifically, sharing music with GeeGee. The songs and bands I like. Especially during her preschool years, music was a little island of sanity from Dora the Explorer’s incessant screaming of “TELL SWIPER NOOOO SWIPING” or from Joe & Blue or that ear-wormable House of Mouse song from Playhouse Disney.
Music was my trip to “back in the day.” Simultaneously entertaining GeeGee was an added bonus.
As GeeGee outgrew those kiddie shows, we continued to share music, and before I knew it, she was requesting songs like Safety Dance, One Night in Bangkok, and Somebody’s Watching Me. When GeeGee started recognizing songs by Sting, Rush, Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt, Jamie and I smugly patted ourselves on the back. Ah yes, we thought, she’s developing an appreciation for real music.
But of course, we can’t make current tunes go away, and GeeGee’s added songs with artists whose names always seem to end with Feat. [insert name here] to her own tween list of favorites. So, she listens to her music on her radio in her room, while I reserve the right to refuse requests to turn the car radio to her hippity-hoppity station or whatever the kids are calling music these days. That’s unless Jamie’s in the car with us, as was the case on the ride home from church. “Dad, you guys listened to your songs already. Is it my turn now?” Despite my silent objections over being subjected to this “music”, he changed the station and she took it a step further: “Can you turn up the volume, dad?” He obliged…and even sang along:
“I’m gonna pop some tags, I got twenty dollars in my pocket…This is. Awesome.”
My mind spun: Are you kidding me? How is this a song? What does “pop some tags” even mean? I couldn’t take it anymore: “You know this song?” Jamie smirked, “Yeah…you know: popping tags” (as if he actually knew what that meant) and continued singing. Then GeeGee chimed in “Yeah, mom. Thrift Shop. It’s a really good song.” Then they sang…or talked…or rapped…or whatever is done in that “song.”
It was like they had their own private little club. And I wasn't in it.
I did want in on their cool little hippity-hoppity-tag-poppin’ club, but I just couldn’t wrap my brain around this insanity I was hearing: This can’t be considered singing and what kind of deep-social-awareness message is “This is. Awesome.” I mean, at least with Safety Dance there was an underlying theme of …. Okay, so that’s not a good example, but people at least sang in One Night in Bangkok, none of this talking disguised as rap…well the chorus had a tune. But you have to give it to Somebody’s Watching Me. That was a song about relating to the larger world and…um. Perhaps not. So that’s three strikes right there.
So I started thinking: could it be that the songs of my youth sounded just as crazy to my mother as this crop of new music sounds to me? Most likely. I remember riding around from errand to errand wishing against wish that she’d change her elevator music station to something else. Anything else. But she never did. Consequently, we never quite saw eye-to-eye on music. She thought Sting’s songs were tuneless Gregorian chants, and she had no idea why my friends and I would risk our hearing by going to see the Clash in concert. She did, however, love – and I mean love – Bohemian Rhapsody. And that was only because of the chorale and impeccable harmonies.
But I want better than that. For GeeGee and for me. And I really want to be in the cool hippity-hoppity-tag-poppin’ club too. Maybe it’s time she feels the joy of sharing her music with me as I felt when I shared my music with her. So for better or for worse, I will crack that radio station dial every now and then and tune into what GeeGee wants to hear…and down the road, she’ll have memories of all us singing in unison “I wanna pop some tags…”
Not likely. But changing the radio station’s a good start.