I know that someday you'll find better things.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Censorship Cycle

A mix tape created by me would be an irreparable disservice to my generation.

When my peers wax nostalgic about the eighties, I have to fake it. Truth be told, I was ten and a half years old at the height of the 1980s, and as the eldest child in my family, my primary influences paralleled those of my parents—namely my dad. His musical interests were rather narrow:

Luciano Pavorotti, Placido Domingo, Neil Diamond, Billy Joel, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, and Linda Ronstandt.

My mother had a fondness for John Denver, so we also owned two of his tapes. One of these involved Christmas and Muppets, so it doesn’t count.

Go ahead. Ask me anything about those eight musicians. Just don't ask me about Def Leopard, AC/DC, or Madonna. I always mix up those three. 

As I’m sure you’ve concluded, I was not the life of the party during those instrumental middle school years, and I was more than a tad resentful about this obvious social handicap which my parents had imposed upon me.

Until, of course, I became a parent myself.

We first realized the need to censor our music selections when five-year-old Caleb came home from a visitation weekend with his biological mother, singing

"Shush girl
Shut your lips
Do the Helen Keller
And talk with your hips.
Don’t trust a ho"

We were appalled!

No longer would we turn a blind eye and distracted ear in our own vehicles, that’s for sure.

Around that time, barely-two-year-old Mia began to explore her singing skills.
“I’ve got straps, straps around my shoooo-ulders,” she belted from the confines of her carseat.

Russ and I high-fived each other and air-fived Johnny Cash in heaven. Satisfied with our parenting, we continued to listen to whatever we wanted, until the day the Modest Mouse from the backseat gave an impromptu performance of Polar Opposites.

“I’m tryin’, I’m tryin’
To drink away the part of the day
I cannot sleep awaaaaay!”


Gramma Merry and Opa’s gift of the Raffi boxed set could not have arrived at a more perfect time. It was Baby Beluga, Joshua Giraffe, and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot from then on.

Crisis: averted.
Conscience: clean.

One day, while passing through rural Frisco on the way to urban Frisco (and presumably Ikea) the pipsqueak perked up.

“Corn!” Mia yelped excitedly.
“Yes, dear,” I placated.
“Rain makes corn,” she informed us.
“Good job, sweetie.” Wow, I thought, that expensive preschool is totally worth the cost.
“Corn makes whiskey,” she continued.


Something was happening to the bloodflow to my face. Was I blushing with embarrassment or paling in horror?

I yanked down the visor and flipped down the vanity mirror to get a better look at her. You know, because if I saw, say, a cat in a feather boa neatly buckled into the carseat then this would be a dream.

“Hi, Mommy! I can see your eye—and part of your nose, too!” she said brightly.
I’d been hoping for the cat in a feather boa.

“Hi, Sweetheart. I can see you, too. Now, what’s this about whiskey?” Things you never imagined you’d be asking your three-year-old, I thought.

“Whiskey makes my baby feel a little frisky!” she proclaimed.
“Whose baby?”
“The baby in the song, I guess.”
“What song?”
“The song about the rain and the corn.”
“Honey, who sings this song? Is this a school song?”
“No, Mommy. Me an’ Daddy sing it, when it comes on the radio in the jeep.  Want me to sing it for you?”

That’s quite alright.
Where’d that Raffi cd get to?

As hard as it is to accept, we can’t censor our kids from society’s influence forever. Not that we shouldn’t try, of course, but things will always find a way to slip through the filters. Who am I to tell my ex-husband what he can and cannot listen to in the presence of the daughter that is part him, part me? All we can do is try to be the best we can while they’re under our guidance and hope for the best when they’re not.

1 comment:

  1. I can TOTALLY empathize with you about kids coming home after spending time with the other parent and singing songs not deemed so appropriate!
    There was one time when the girls came home after having spent time with Becky able to sing lines from 50 Cent's "Candyshop". We would also censor what we listened to around them, and they'd be like "no, don't change it, Mommy listens to this song all the time!"