August 10, 2005

Kiddie Music? Maybe Not...

I won't say we're exactly a musical family. I took four or five years of violin and never learned enough to even be classed as competent. My husband never took lessons on an instrument, but has taught himself a lot about music and with the help of the shape notes in our hymnals can read it pretty well.

We do sing a lot. We sing in church. We sing at home. We have several song books we get out of an evening and just cuddle the kids and sing with them. I can carry a tune decently, although it would be more helpful if I had any skill at singing harmony, because I should be an alto. My husband can sing well, sings tenor or bass and leads singing at church. The older two like to sing and hum and of course listen to music.

In the car, we have a wide variety of cds. Things like Wee Sing and The Wiggles are mixed in with both cooler kid's music and things like bluegrass and rock that we, the parents, owned pre-child.

Most of the pre-kiddie music isn't too bad and can be played for them. We weren't nearly as sensitive to some of the words and themes before we had children though. More and more, I notice things that never appeared to me before. I never paid attention to what the Beatles song Daytripper was saying, until my son decided he wanted to listen to the Beatles all the time.

We were listening to Rattle and Hum a while back, and it seemed fine until a few days later when I hear my five year old singing Helter Skelter to himself.

Then again last week, we were listening to Johnny Cash in the car and my husband was really enjoying Folsom Prison Blues. I think we heard it two or three times while driving around. Hearing my son singing, "I shot a man in Reno..." while building with his Legos, wasn't quite so pleasant.

Parenting is a continually evolving job. I don't think we've failed or even screwed up too badly by letting the kids hear grown up music, even that with certain grown up themes. On the other hand, I think my son is far too young to be thinking much about these things and I'm not really ready to hear him singing some of these songs though.

I'll start paying closer attention to the lyrics, skip past more songs on various CDs and when these moments arise, we'll keep doing what we've been doing and talk to the kids about what the songs mean and what's wrong with them.


They have a special spot in Hell for me, because my kids have fallen in love with Hollaback Girl. I can't even explain what it means, because who knows? They heard it ONCE, and now they all seem to have it memorized.

(And don't get me started on the Ben Folds Five debacle. Little pitchers have big ears, man.)

Posted by: Jenny at August 10, 2005 01:19 PM

That's hilarious! I totally agree. Our son started singing 'Drop It Like It's Hot' at 21/2 and we knew we had to start being more careful. Although it was incredibly cute, I just don't want him going into the church nursery singing Snoop-Dog. Parenting is VERY hard work...

Posted by: Jason Berggren at August 10, 2005 03:29 PM

So much for "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap."

Reminds me of the time many years ago when a four year old I knew was singing a song popular at the time: "Boom boom boom let's go back to my room."

Some people thought it was the cutest thing, and I was disgusted beyond words.

Posted by: skinnydan at August 11, 2005 03:09 PM

Seriously, I don't play my AC/DC when the kids are around.

Posted by: skinnydan at August 11, 2005 03:09 PM

I recently posted about my daughter learning, unfortunately, the words to Jimmy Buffet's "My head hurts, my feet stink, and I don't love Jesus". I feel your pain.

Posted by: RP at August 12, 2005 02:09 PM

Wait till they get to be teen-agers and understand the words and the meaning of your oldies. I'm a big Barry Manilow fan and most of his songs are about broken relationships or lusting after other women. The funniest song the kids like and is the most wrong is the "Pina Colada" song. Mr. Mayhem and I still like all the oldies because we grew up with it, but now they open up some interesting discussions with the girls. Communication is a good think, but I don't advocate listening to bad stuff just to have a discussion about it. My girls grew up with Sesame Street and contemporary Christian music.

Posted by: Mercy at August 12, 2005 07:00 PM

Thanks for the tip! We just got NO! (They Might Be Giants) in the mail and haven't stopped listening to it since. Another fun one from the library is African Playground from Puntamayo Kids--just for a break out of the ordinary.

Posted by: Meredith at August 14, 2005 09:43 PM

Yup. . . I'm in the same boat of realizing I'm letting my kids listen to music that I never imagined they'd be listening to at this age.

On the other hand. . . We were talking about the story of Joseph from the Bible a couple of months ago. They couldn't remember it. Finally I prompted them--You know, the same Joseph as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Posted by: TulipGirl at August 14, 2005 10:31 PM