We let our first born listen to Raffi when he was little. There. I said it. We just didn't know any better and it seemed to be what parents did. I tried to reassure myself by saying, "Self...it could be worse. He could be listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks" but, in my heart, I knew it was wrong. As those early years passed, we became more confident in our parenting and, by the time Miguel was three, I had made him his very own mix CD. I don't remember what I put on there but I know there were songs by the Eurthymics, Shawn Colvin and the Indigo Girls (hey...we are lesbians after all). He loved it and we never went back to children's music. Although both of our children listen carefully to and remember lyrics, there have been few bumps in our musical road...until recently.
One day last week, I woke up in a terrible mood and I was crabby at the kids the entire time I was getting them ready for school. I knew I was being horrible but I couldn't snap out of it. When I finally had them belted in the car, they were absolutely gloomy and I felt horribly guilty. So, what did I do to overcompensate for a morning of bad parenting? Well, indugle them with inappropriate music, of course! So, I decided to let them listen to "Shut Up and Let Me Go" by the Ting Tings. They had heard it once on a commerical and loved it but we didn't let them listen to it again because we have taken a stand that "shut up" is disrespectful. Before I turned on the iPod though, I made them promise that they would not sing the song at school or use the words against anyone. Feel free to laugh at my naiveté and the fact that I momentarily forgot that I have the world's sassiest children. Anyway, we listened to the song all the way to school and it cheered us all up and, when I dropped them off, we were all radiating goodness and light. That night, however, Zeca was having a difficult time doing as she was asked. We like to call this behavior Zeca's Usual Behavior. When I told her it was time to go to bed, she yelled, "Shut up and let me go!" When I repeatedly told her to put on her pajamas, she said in her surliest tone, "Shut up and let me go!" When I told her that I didn't like her disrespectful tone, what did she say? Yep..."shut up and let me go!" By this time, Luisa was shooting me looks like, "What the hell is going on here?" so I cleared my throat and said, "I let the kids listen to 'Shut Up and Let Me Go' on the way to school this morning." Luisa asked why I would do such a thing and I explained that I had been feeling a little down that morning and was a teeny tiny bit of an orgre with the children and thought that music would soothe the savage beast within me. I then added meekly, "But they promised they wouldn't repeat it..." She simply shook her head and walked away while I was left to stuff our darling little Ting Ting into her pajamas.
Now, lest you think we are The Cleavers over here, I will admit that I swear in front of my children. I have used the words "damn", "hell" and "shit" on more than one occasion but I tend to think of those more as interjections. They aren't aimed at anyone. I don't, however, ever use the words "fuck" or "bitch" in front of the kids. I do really enjoy the word "fuck" but I can control my use of it. Don't judge - I'm a middle aged mother of two...don't begrudge me anything that makes me feel edgy and hard core. That said, I wouldn't let the kids listen to music with those words. So, they don't listen to The Cliks or Lily Allen or Sick of Sarah. Hell, even Shawn Colvin uses "fuck" in one of her songs. As I was thinking about "shut up" though I couldn't help but wonder where we draw the line. Is the Missy Higgins song about an unplanned pregnancy and abortion alright? What about Johnny Cash singing about killing a man just to watch him die? Should I reconsider "La Di Da" by The Murmurs because they talk about a girl losing her virginity like a common tart? I'm not asking for your opinions on these specific songs because I have my own but I do think it is interesting to think about it. Where would you draw the line?