Big Sister is in an inquisitive phase of her life. Daily I am asked not only what my favorite color, food, song, movie and book is currently but what it was when I was her age. I wish I would have taken notes or kept a journal – it would have come in handy. Until of course I remember that I have always had an eclectic taste in music and I really don’t want her listening to almost anything I loved at her age. See the list below and I think I can make you into an ally.
1. Good Vibrations – Marky Mark and the funky Bunch
I realize that Mark Walberg is now a major movie star, real-estate developer, philanthropist, doting father and a host of other things I am not privy to. But back when I was eight, he was Marky Mark and this song was everywhere. I am not even going to pretend that this is not one of my favorite jams ever, even now. However, I don’t want my daughter repeating any of the lyrics or asking me to expand on what exactly the Funky bunch is talking about.
2. Baby Got Back – Sir. Mix-a lot
Two years ago, my sweet, little, then first – grader, came home humming this song. When I asked her how she picked up this little ditty, she explained that another girl in her class was singing Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda”. This was shocking and horrifying as a parent. It was also probably how my mom felt when I mimed “She looks like a total prostitute” in my best Valley girl accent just like the girls did in the beginning of Mr. Mix – A lot’s groove. Sorry Mom.
3. Creep – Radiohead
This song. When I hear it to this day, I am transfixed. I should not have been able to identify with any of the lyrics there, “I’m a creep/ I am a weirdo/ what the hell am I doing here/ I don’t belong here”. But I felt them in my bones. Sometimes I wonder why I was given such a wide swath to find what spoke to me – musically, cinematically and in other areas. But the exposure to a wide range of music activated my quest to explore lyrics and writing in general.
Sometimes on the short drive to school I die a little under the oppressive forces of Kidz Bop muzak. I encourage the tamed version of break out hits because I want my babes to stay sheltered for just a little longer. The funny thing about these tiny humans is that they are always observing. I can keep them from the f word and sexual innuendo, but life is happening to them too.
One day, while John Legend’s “Stay with you” was playing in the car (sample lyrics: “Oh I’ll stay with you through the ups and the downs / Oh I’ll stay with you when no one else is around / And when the dark clouds arise/ I will stay by your side / I know we’ll be alright/ I will stay with you”) Big Sister let out a sigh and said “What a beautiful love song” and I made the connection to what had unfolded for us both. In some ways I still love the music that shaped me when I was her age even if it didn’t really pertain to me then. (Okay, so I am still about 500,000 squats away from having “back” even now, but that is a different post entirely).
Maybe I have such a hard time answering her questions because I want my representative to show up and speak on my behalf with intelligent, safe responses. But that isn’t real life and it isn’t the real me. More than anything else, I want to teach the girls that the only way to go through life is being authentically them even if that finds them singing “Rump Shaker” as 30-something year old mom doing housework.