My husband called me June Cleaver. You know June. Leave it to Beaver’s mom?
He said it last week when we were in the car listening to the radio. A song came on called Call me Maybe. A few days before, my daughter had told me that this song was EVERYONE’S favourite, and that it was all over the high school even though it first aired on the Family Channel. Oh Lord. The Family Channel? Tres Tween.
All I said to the man was, ‘I love that the kids like this song. It’s so nice and cheerful. Nobody’s talking about stripping.’
That’s when he called me a goody two shoes.
I’m pretty sure that worrying about what my kids are listening to, and being happy when they give the thumbs up to positive lyrics, is not a bad thing. In fact, I think listening to cuss-free songs is something to be encouraged. Maybe even rewarded. Seriously. Usually the kids listen to songs that share treasures like ‘I want to see you strip’ or ‘I’m so sexy’ or ‘Let’s see that booty shake’.
I’m not even going to get into the violent rap beats with lovely words like ‘mothafucka’ ‘bitch’ ‘nigga’ ‘whore’ and all matter of chatter about killing, shooting and other forms of uncontrollable violence and disrespecting of ladies.
(Sheesh, I am a dork.)
So, I said to the father of a teenage girl who likes a song with lyrics that include:Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number, so call me, maybe?
‘What is so wrong with wanting your daughter to engage in some clean living? I mean, seriously. A little Kumbaya never hurt anyone.’
He looked at me all askance. And basically accused me of being my grandmother.
I have to remind myself how it was when I was young. When I was a kid, I’d secretly listen to the original soundtrack of Grease. I had to hide the record from my mom. That was because in the song Greased Lightning, they said ‘shit’ and ‘the chicks will cream’, and if she heard those awful words, she might confiscate.
So scandalous, right? And a call-out that nothing changes.
Every generation has their version of Greased Lighting. Or of Katy Perry’s iconic ditty I Kissed a Girl. Or of Elvis’ hip-shaking. But it’s up to us to let our kids know that those are song lyrics – and not real life. And that just because a song hits a great beat doesn’t mean that its words are actions to be admired or emulated.
My concern is that music defines generations, from the jazz of the 1920s, to the hippies of the 1960s, and the glam pop of the 80s (oh goodness, that hair! Those shoulder pads!). If the music my kids listen to encourages killing, drugs, and the objectification of women, what does that mean for them and their peers? Is that their culture?
Yesterday, my daughter came into the family room singing Call Me Maybe wearing a big grin. I told her about the conversation I had with her father and she laughed.
‘Mom, did you watch the video?’ she asked.
‘Nope. I just like the words and the music,’ I said. ‘It’s a fun song.’
She stopped laughing long enough to say, ‘Oh yeah? Go watch the video. The song is about a girl who’s flirting with a guy who turns out to be gay.’ She giggled, shaking her head as she left the room, probably muttering under her breath: ‘What a granny.’
I don’t care that my family thinks I’m a fuddy duddy. It’s my job to oversee their moral development, to be aware of what they’re listening to, and to help them filter the good from all that bad and ugly.
My take is this. If music speaks for a generation, and a kind of casual acceptance of all types of people defines this generation, then you know what? I’m pretty happy.