Hell, I’m *driving* the truck.

We had an interesting conversation at dinner tonight, my babies and I. It all began, as many things do around here,  with iPods: who’s currently in possession of theirs (iPods are a popular item for Mom to suspend usage of during periods of correctional activity), what music is on yours, what “apps” are on mine and not yours, what music your friend gave you and can I have it too, what new app my friend told me about and now I can’t live without it so please can I get it after dinner, when do I get mine back because I think it’s time to get it back, why you took mine away, etc. etc. etc.

iPods are valuable around here.

At one point Child #4 attempted, quite obviously, to throw #3 and #1 under the metaphorical Bus by revealing to me the kind of music that was recently added to #3’s iPod as a result of #1’s influence. Both numbers 1 and 3 put on their “who, me?” expressions and told #4 to be quiet because he didn’t know what he was talking about. #4 insisted that he *did* know what he was talking about — that #3’s iPod now had songs on it that were “explicit.” When I asked #4 what exactly “explicit” meant, he looked at me like I was incompetent and said (with “duh” implied), “Bad words, Mom.” (In my defense, it was a logical question. The kid’s eight, for crying out loud. I haven’t seen “explicit” on his spelling lists yet.)

But I surprised them — rather than getting all crazed about inappropriate lyrics in these songs, I instead said (coolly, I might add), “I’m aware of what’s on the iPods. It’s my iTunes account, remember? Do you people think I’m standing in the middle of the turnip field, having just fallen off the truck? ‘Where’s Mom?’ ‘I dunno,’ ‘Oh look, there she is, over there in that turnip field. She must have just fallen off the truck.’ ” “Guys,” I intoned,”I’m not that dumb, sorry to disappoint.”

[And let me just pause here to say that my turnip field/truck line was an inspired one, if I do say so myself. I cracked them up, and rightly so. {And as those who know me can attest, tooting my own horn is something that I do on occasion. My rationale: if you can’t toot your own horn, why would anyone else do it for you?} Now, back to the post.]

We then had a brief conversation about music and lyrics. I told them that I was more offended by the Rhianna/Eminem song “I love the way you lie” because it was about domestic violence — and I wasn’t even sure there were any bad words in it. I find the theme offensive…words are just words.

So that got me thinking (did you know Banned Book Week is just over?): I feel that music is like any other art — like writing or painting or sculpture: censoring the fine arts does no one any service. However, I do believe that I have the right, as a parent, to restrict what my children are exposed to, and to make a big deal over one “bad word” in the context of an otherwise innocuous song seems like shouting down the rain. Better that I spend my time monitoring the themes of the music they are exposed to and determine if they are understanding what they are hearing. Did my 10 year old even understand that Rhianna song was about being beaten, or did he just hear it as a “good song”? Do they listen to that garbage from Kanye West at the VMA’s a couple of weeks ago and get disgusted by the lack of creativity, or get titillated by the bad words?

I love music. I can’t imagine a world without it — I love all kinds, all genres, all decades. (My #1 believes that I intentionally put on the 60s or 70s channel on satellite radio to torment her specially. This is not true: no torment, just hope that we’ll hear something fantastic like, “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” or “Windy.”) I think I only do my children a favor to expose them to as much music as possible — bad words or no — provided that, like film or books, the themes are age-appropriate and enhance the values that I am trying to teach at the dinner table.

You know, the values that cover attempts to throw your sibs under the bus — or under the turnip truck that you think your mother has fallen off of.

~~While I was writing this, here’s what came up on my random playlist:
  • Yellow, Coldplay
  • I Think I Better Leave Right Now, Will Young
  • Zephyr, Mary-Chapin Carpenter
  • Lovers’ Cross, Jim Croce
  • Famous, Vertical Horizon
  • Knights in White Satin, Moody Blues
  • Amazing Grace, Phil Vassar
  • Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Dionne Warwick
  • The Impression That I Get, Mighty Mighty Basstones
  • The Water is Wide, Karla Bonoff (from the Thirtysomething soundtrack)
  • Good Night New York, Christine Lavin & Julie Gold et al. (from the album Buy Me, Bring Me, Take Me: Don’t Mess My Hair)
  • Where You Are, October Project
  • Ashes to Ashes, Darden Smith
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12 Responses to “Hell, I’m *driving* the truck.”

  1. Jamie Says:

    Not sure my oldest would have gotten the turnip truck line. But she frequently treats me as if I’ve just came off of one. Which drives me insane. She’s not playing any new games. I played those games 25 years ago. I am an EXPERT!

    I’ve only briefly heard the Eminem/Rhianna song but haven’t paid much attention to the lyrics yet. I know there’s been some controversy about it. Thankfully, my oldest still likes the Jonas Brothers.

  2. Cecelia Winesap Says:

    Great playlist! And a wonderful lesson for the kiddies! :)
    Cecelia Winesap recently posted..Assmunch Monday- Another Classy Moment for Conway Twitty

  3. Joanna Says:

    Love this one. And I am 100% on board with “the words are just words”. It drove me bonkers when my parents freaked out about bad words(still does). To me it’s sometimes okay to say “WTF?” (relatively speaking), but quite a different thing to say “Go F*&^ yourself.” You know what I mean? Sometimes people get so caught up in a battle of one word or another that the aforementioned domestic violence kinda songs go totally unnoticed! I loathe hearing young people sing in their precious cherub voices about icky, mean, & inappropriate stuff they don’t even understand.

    It’s the same concern with books. I am now looking in the “older” juvie book section for E1. This is sooooo challenging. I flip through a book and see a word or phrase and think, “???” In the end I feel: I will be reading a lot of books for kids in the near future, AND: some authors are my dear and trustworthy friends–they may curse (like me), but they don’t treat lightly themes of sex or violence in their works for kids. I am grateful.

    As for turnip trucks…I not only drive them, I probably have a dealership. I don’t think my kids know that yet, but they will over time realize that I’ve “seen” a few tricks. I won’t catch everything, (unless the PI I recently approached takes me up on full-time work here) but I am likely to have a few “been there, done that” moments.

    If only we could pick which genes/traits got passed on…

  4. Booyah's Momma Says:

    OK, you cracked ME up with the truck in the turnip field line. I wish my kids were old enough to appreciate that kind of humor.

    And I think you’re right on in the music department. We’re still in the Disney Princess song stage around here… but when the time comes, I know they’re going to be listening to music that has questionable lyrics or messages. I think, like a lot of things, talking it over with your kids is key.
    Booyah’s Momma recently posted..Confessions of a former sports widow

  5. The Flying Chalupa Says:

    Toot your own horn, girl! I am ALL about tooting your own horn. Love the point about music as a tool for learning. So true. There are some important – and horrible – messages being transmitted through the sound waves. But some great ones too. What about Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress? What about Simon & Garfunkel? Isn’t music great?

  6. mommakiss Says:

    Oh dear, I’m a lil afraid to share my playlist. That the kids jam to. A lot afraid, actually.

    Alyson says:

    Hey — all things in moderation. And frankly, if you’re there to mediate the experience, they should totally jam on it. (God, I’m a dork.)

    I just can’t stand it when they are singing things they don’t understand, like that Eminem/Rhianna song. I guess I would say, sing it if you want to — but be clear about what you’re singing about! Then maybe you won’t want to sing that one….

  7. Melissa (Confessions of a Dr.Mom) Says:

    Great point that the theme and content are more important than a “bad” word thrown in here or there. Sounds like you passed on your love of music to your children:) That is a pretty good word for an eight year old “explicit” and I love your turnip truck comeback.

    They should know that Mama is all knowing…way to go :)
    Melissa (Confessions of a Dr.Mom) recently posted..Tiny Bullies

  8. KLZ Says:

    It’s a little bit funny that they think big brother isn’t watching.
    KLZ recently posted..Muhammad Ali Goes to Bed

  9. Sheena Says:

    I think your music says a lot about you, I even put my playlist on my blog. People make fun of me cause half of the music is from before I was born. I don’t see what the big deal is just cause I am in my twenties doesn’t mean I don’t have good taste. :)
    Sheena recently posted..teaser

  10. Miss Driving Says:

    I think it’s bad when they sing provocative songs when they don’t know what they mean. At a party recently there were 3 or 4 little girls singing and dancing to ‘I’m horny’ … a bit wierd!
    Miss Driving recently posted..Test routes

    Alyson says:

    When my oldest was a tot, I’d play a lot of Garth Brooks cd’s, and she could sing every word to “Long Neck Bottle” and “Two Pina Coladas.”

    Clearly my influence if she grows up to be a bartender!

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