Thursday, 4 July 2013

Facing the Music

My daughter has always held tyrannical opinions on in-car entertainment. In the early days she would clamour for her Sing-along Nursery Rhymes cassette when Desert Island Discs was about to begin. She has vetoed my Dolly Parton collection in case pedestrians should hear when the windows are down and today, as Aled Jones wafts us along the M25 with my favourite funeral hymns, she insists that he is extinguished so she can make her own music.

'Sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and chains excite me!' she bellows from the back seat. My shrill of horror intrigues her. 'What's so bad?' she asks, genuinely baffled. Intuition tells me that this is one for the Vicar, lying prone in the passenger seat beside me. 'Say something!' I hiss, but the Vicar is evidently formulating his next sermon for he doesn't seem to hear.

I am just improvising an answer involving circus ring masters and fairground rides when I glance in the rear view mirror and notice the eight-year-old making disconcerting gestures. 'Come on, come on, I like it, like it!' he sings. My shrill of horror intrigues him. 'What's so bad?' he asks, but I'm not convinced that his bafflement is genuine.

I announce that from now on that song is banned. 'You can't ban it,' says my daughter, shocked. 'It's Rihanna.' I glance helplessly at the Vicar, but he has now evidently sunk into a state of profound prayerfulness and he doesn't seem to heed.

My daughter resumes her rendition. I can see her watching the back of my head, hoping her defiance will prompt thrilling revelations about this mysterious taboo. I remember my resolution to answer all sensitive questions frankly and wisely when they arise. But I'm dodging Eddie Stobarts on a packed motorway, it's late, I'm tired, my youngest is within earshot and I really really don't feel up to discussing bondage.

Instead I reach for Aled and turn the volume up. 'Just promise me,' I conclude, 'that you won't do any singing in the vicarage when the churchwardens are there.'

What do you do if your children learn inappropriate songs in the school playground or on their iPods? Does trying to ban them - or trying to explain them - increase their appeal? How do I wean a cool ten-year-old off Rihanna and onto Doris Day?





25 comments:

  1. My toddler is currently singing along to the song 'Dumb Ways To Die', I will be back hoping someone has something helpful to say....

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    1. Trouble is they're confining their wisdom to Twitter!

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  2. When they were young we chatted about it, give it no attention and hope they stop listening to it. Now they are older, and we have no control, but know we gave them the necessary information so an inappropriate song is no longer an issue.

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    1. So I do have to give her necessary information about ...er...??

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  3. We played our own mix-tapes (remember them!) in the car when our daughters were little, to make a change from nursery rhymes. The song they unexpectedly picked up on was Peaches by The Stranglers. They loved it! I deflected any questions about the lyrics. They took it at face value and assumed it was about fruit.

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  4. I feel your pain. My eldest is eight and addicted to Bruno Mars and Gangnam Style. He is (fortunately) incredibly offended by swearing so hates rapping but loves though mixed CDs which include all of it. Lies, Anna, lies, I'm afraid are the way forward for us and we'll have to answer for them at the Pearly Gates ;)

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    1. But if I lie she'll have very wrong ideas about biology!

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  5. My tactic was to learn all the words to the suspect songs then, when they came on the radio, I would sing along at the top of my voice. The songs quickly became 'uncool' when mum was singing along. Giggle!

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    1. That's a very good idea, but I don't think I listen to the right radio channels.

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  6. I think it was ever thus. Don't you occasionally hear a song from your childhood and think "oh my goodness, I can't believe I used to sing along to this... I had no idea what it was about"?

    But I also think, as parents in a world where all kinds of stuff is easily available to our children, we do sometimes have to draw a line, and be prepared to say to our kids "other people do x, but in this family, we're not going to". For us, the lines in the sand happened over xBox and Playstation games, and violent films. I'm prepared to let music choice slide a little.

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    1. Given that I grew up addicted to Carmen Miranda and Doris Day I can't say that first point applies to me. I have lately realised that my George Formby collection is a bit near the knuckle though!

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  7. My daughter hears all the lyrics wrong anyway so the risque lyrics simply become nonsense.

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    1. That won't shield her (or you) for long, though, dear.

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  8. As a mother of a newly-turned three year old who adores Olly Murs and Justin Bieber, I have no useful advice. I think it's a lost cause you're fighting - invest in an iPod for yourself and leave them to it!

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    1. I was perfectly happy in my ignorance - until this car trip!

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  9. As far as any inappropriate language we have usually explained what it means truthfully (relevant to the age of the child!)but they are aware that what other people say (or sing) is not necessarily appropriate language for us to use. You can't easily restrict what they hear but you can, to the best of your ability, restrict what they repeat.

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    1. This sounds very wise and I shall try to practise what you preach.

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  10. How times have changed!!!! Lyrics are so explicit these days, and I may sound like a fuddy duddy, but as far as younger children are concerned, it just isn't appropriate. I find it quite disturbing, the boundary all wrong, when I hear children singing lyrics they won't understand the meaning too. In my day it was Abba and The Brother Hood of Man - tame in comparison. I remember Frankie Goes To Hollywood being banned and again, no where near as bad by today's standards. What's happening to childhood?

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    1. It's a sorry state of affairs when pop stars who rely on a teen and pre-teen fan base think they have to be shocking to get attention. Strong song-writing shouldn't need explicit lyrics to have an impact.

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  11. To be fair...they wanted to ban Elvis for being to ROOD ! Don't you have to rely on them knowing whats appropriate in relation to their peers? within reason of course!

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    1. Well, that's it; where does 'reason' start and end?!

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  12. My 3 year old loved The Sugababes' "Push The Button" and would trot around the house bellowing, "If you're ready for me boy, you gotta piss the freak. . ."

    I felt it was preferable to teach her that it was 'kiss the freak'

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    1. Most wise of you. Having brought my bairns up on Dolly Parton I'm unused to these sleights of hand!

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  13. At a friends wedding my then 2 year old son approached the oriental girlfriend of the best man and proceeded to sing his favourite Monty Python song (thank you husband for letting him hear the whole album!) Not sure she appreciated his rendition of "I like Chinese" and neither did my mother when he happily skipped through the churchyard to Sunday school while she walked with the vicars wife "Sit on my face and tell me that you love me" If you're not aware of the songs - youtube them - you'll understand my distress!

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