20 June 2007

The Rookie Cops of Suburbia

Caroline and I pulled into the parking lot for swimming lessons yesterday afternoon blaring and singing Loudon Wainwright: “That’s my daughter in the water…” which was the designated riding-to-swimming-lessons theme song this week.

Another woman who was arriving at the same time with her kids smiled at us and asked me what song we were singing and whether it was a children's song.

The instant I told her the song was from the movie “Knocked Up,”I knew I'd made a mistake.

(Tiny frown of disapproval) “See, that’s why I never put the radio on in the car. Every song is about sex,” she said. "It's all Wiggles all the time for us."

I was going to tell her that we were actually listening to my iPod and the song we were singing was not about sex but I opted out of the conversation saying we were running late.

I also didn’t want Caroline to suddenly bust into one of her favorite songs on the radio these days: “You and Your Hand” by Pink. I was in no mood to be judged by someone wearing a Vera Bradley backpack.

Most parents have no problems admitting they’re completely clueless. Then there are the rookie cops of suburbia like Vera here. They’re probably just as paralyzed by parental insecurity as everyone else but can’t bear to admit it. They pounce on any opportunity to share their rules with you. In 10 years, I guarantee this lady will be burning Leaves of Grass in a barrel bonfire outside her kids’ high school.

Still, these run-ins, which thankfully are few and far between, usually make me second guess myself (which is the rookie cop’s intent). But this time, I didn't feel conflicted, I felt smug. This woman clearly has zero recollection of her own childhood.

Little kids don’t process song lyrics the way we do. They have absolutely no interest in what the song means. They just enjoy the music.

For instance, Caroline actually thinks the name of the Pink song is “You and Your Hair,” but even if she knew the right lyrics, she still would have absolutely no idea what they mean and I’m under no obligation to explain such things to a four year old. That’s all ahead of us. In my experience, making taboo of something she isn’t capable of understanding yet only raises more questions.

Also, when in our lifetime have there not been songs about sex on the radio?

Growing up, we’d go to the Cape every year with a bunch of my parents’ friends and their kids. When we were about 6 or 7 years old, we played “Solid Gold,” and put on lip-syncing shows for the adults. My favorite song to perform was Alicia Bridge’s “I Love the Nightlife.”

Here’s a sampling of lyrics:

I want to go where the people dance
I want some action,
I want to live
Action, I got so much to give
I want to give it
I want to get some too

(Only now can I appreciate how hilarious this must have been for all the parents parked in lawn chairs drinking Schlitz.)

I don’t recall, at seven years old, analyzing what the song meant but I probably thought it was about dancing or staying up late to watch the Love Boat -- not trolling the clubs for anonymous sex.

My friend Heather’s song was Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls.” In her six-year-old mind, she was singing about mean girls in Fayva shoes, not about prostitutes.

My brother’s song was “I was Made for Loving you” by Kiss which starts: "Tonight I wanna give it all to you. In the darkness, theres so much I wanna do." Knowing six-year-old P, he probably thought it was about camping.

So, I'm not concerned that my kids are being tainted by pop music. My only concern is them belting out certain songs in public places ala the "He doesn’t look a thing like Jesus" epidemic of 2006. Lucky for us, the "clean" versions on the radio and iTunes automatically omit words like“dickhead" and "motherfucker."


sb said...

KJ - I'm afraid to re-type a comment you had made Sat night when referring to these suburban buzzkills and what body part they cut off after having babies. Let's just say it rhymes with shit and Taurus.

By the way - my bet is that Little Paul Age 6 knew EXACTLY what that song was about.

Pam said...

OMG - I cannot believe you wrote about this - I am right there with you. I used to be very friendly with this Mom who seemed to be on the same page with me (and you know how hard that is to find) until she voiced her disapproval of my girls singing along to Gwen Steffani's Holla Back Girl. They had no idea what they were singing and we edited the sentence where she said "where's my shit" to "where's my shrimp", but she still had to let me know how wrong it was to let my girls listen to it. I remember growing up and loving the Village People for christ's sake!! At 9 years old I did not understand the concept of those boys having sex with each other, I just really loved doing the YMCA.

As popular as Holla Back girl was 2 years ago, Fergalicious was just as popular 3 months ago and some other crappy song with a catchy tune will be a hit next week.

As far as this pop music tainting my children, I think as parents we have bigger fish to fry. You should have told that mother that making her children listen to the Wiggles over and over again could possibly make them gay, that would have shut her right up!

Goy said...

Sounds just like the hostile mother in spandex that I had the pleasure of sitting next to at Finagle a Bagel. Her kids didn't watch tv or listen to music. They were all Thomas the Tank Engine all the time. She was less than pleased when I told her that we tell our kids that the T is Thomas because it is cheaper than the Edaville Thomas.

Amy Poms was also like a child in her interpretation of lyrics. Remember "Cinnamon Gum", by Steve Perry?

stevieb said...

i guess I can never expect that women to come by a car from me seeing that as I am reading your blog tonight over the radio the song "I touch myself" is blaring in the showroom.
Maybe I need a new station?

Auntie said...

Ahhh yes...these uptight crazies are all around us. Quick question, was she wearing crocs and an IZOD with the collar up? Just checking.

Anonymous said...

Trust me, KJ, These women are yesterday's sluts. The white tee- shirt contestant of spring break who, drunk off her ass on tequila, flashes the crowd. The one who dirty danced in college to Me So Horny by 2 Live Crew and Do Me Baby by Bell Biv Devoe and slept with everyone. Trust me. That is why there is all this overcompensation now.

lpd said...

As a little kid, I had the 45 single (yes, a 45, so friggin' old...) of "Afternoon Delight", my FAVORITE song. I'd listen to that thing over and over ad naseum and belt out every word, most of which I made up. I hadn't a clue that it was about midday nookie until much later in life. Vera probably listened to a lot of Amy Grant in the 90's.

BAGS said...


You should have asked the Jesus of Suburbia how that was any less obscene than any of classic children rhymes such as Three Blind Mice?

Three blind mice,
Three blind mice
See how they run,
See how they run!

They all ran after
The farmer's wife
She cut off their tails
With a carving knife
Did you ever see
Such a sight in your life
As three blind mice?

Maybe it doesn't deal with today topics about self pleasuring, but how about maiming and torturing physically challenged beings?

wmd said...


1) LPD's song "Afternoon Delight" was in a fantastic episode of "Arrested Development" where Jason Bateman sang it with his niece at a party until midway through he realized what the song was about.

2) To Bags' point, how about "Ring around the Rosie" about the friggin' plague and people dropping dead? Insane Clown Posse may have more kid friendly lyrics.

3) The good thing is you're not alone. Unsolicited advice doesn't even wait until you've actually had the kids. There are "perfect" parents out there already giving us advice. Don't get me wrong as we're new to the whole thing we're happy to have people give us advice but it falls into three categories:
1) Wow, didn't know that and that's a big help, thanks.
2) Ok, I get it, you've had kids and think you're the only one on the planet who has actually raised kids perfectly. However, your method must be just shy of a book deal so you'll give your advice to me instead of the rest of the reading world. I will play along and politely say thank you... then dismiss you as a douche (i.e. Wiggles mom)
3) Seriously, shut the F$%# up!

Number 1, is helpful and welcome. The funny thing about numbers 2 and 3 is that I've seen their kids are generally either social mutants or eating rocks while developing a false superiority complex.

jal said...

I remember being scandalized by the theme to Flashdance when it came out. Rather than "Take your passion and make it happen." I swore the words were "Take your pants down and make it happen". I was about 10 and couldn't believe they allowed this on the radio but secretly loved it! At 4 I wouldn't have cared. My bosses 4 yr old love the Avril Lavigne song Girlfriend and she laughs when he sings all the words. Like you KJ she is not at all worried. He doesn't know what the words mean and it's hilarious.

Cameo said...

GOY: Tell that smug beyatch in Finagle that she's letting her children play with toys made of lead paint. Then, ask her if she's read a GD newspaper lately. China is bound to kill all of us with lead paint, tained pet food or rancid toothpaste. Me thinks that much more fatal than a pop song. Whateva....

LPD: I loved "Afternoon Delight" too! I used to sit in the back back of our maroon station wagon and sing it at the top of my lungs. That and "Come on baby light my fire" by the Doors. Hmmm...that could explain my later years in junior high.

cameo said...

PS: Love the Fayva reference. The only thing better was Thom McCann

Code Red said...

Anonymous - good point.

Patti Labelle's "Lady Marmalade" was a favorite of mine as a kid - a song about a hooker. It was a #1 hit when I was 5. Imagine my shock when I realized in French class freshman year what "Voulez vous couchez avec moi?" meant.

Anonymous said...

On a side note: I secretly destroyed all Wiggles media in my house after me 2 1/2 year old pointed at Greg Wiggle on the tube and said 'dadda?'

Basically this was the equivalent of penetrating my chest cavity with her sweet little hand removing my heart and taking a bite while I collapse to the floor trying to spit out one last word ...'why?' (in slow motion of course).

Damn you Greg Wiggle...damn you straight to hell.

One comment...in our youth there was only Saturday morning cartoons and cheesy after-school specials. Today parents can sanitize every form of media at every location...from cd's, ipod's to satellite radio and cable tv it can be 24 hours of Disney or Thomas the Tank Engine. The need to bleach a kids life to that degree is questionable. I find half the fun of listening to ‘normal’ music is the process of listening to the kid version of the lyrics or convincing that a certain word is something else…ie ‘peanut breathe’ instead of penis breathe (Elliot in E.T. refers to his brother with this term of affection in the first 15 minutes)

sb said...

WMD - awesome.

KJ said...

This is all very validating. I'm inspired to make a playlist of dirty songs you loved as a child but didn't know were dirty until much later. A potential theme for this year's Nantucket CD?

Anon-Sorry about the Greg Wiggle diss, man. That's just rough.

KJ said...

JAL-I used to think it was "pants down" too!!! This is the reverse topic: Songs that you thought were dirty but weren't.

KJ said...

Another thing I find even funnier about the whole incident is that the song we were listening to on the way into the parking lot was a really sweet Dylan-esque folk song about a father and his daughter, not some raw sexual tirade. But because I told her it was from "Knocked Up," she automatically put it on her No Play List. That's a true bleach job. Crazy beatch.

Anonymous said...

Great thread. My three year old sings that Carrie Underwood song where she destroys her boyfriends car because he is cheating on her. It is not about sex but it is kind of psycho. It is hilarious to hear her sing out loud, I dug my key into the side of his pretty lil souped up four wheel drive. It is funny because she doesn't know what she is singing but still loves the song.

james said...

Can you upload the Daughter in the Water Song. That should be shared.

KJ said...

I don't have the blogging skills to do that here in the box, but I agree it should be shared: The song is "Daughter," the artist is "Loudon Wainwright," and the album is "Strange Weirdos." Enter any of those search words into iTunes and you'll get it. You can't buy it as a single, you have to buy the entire album (which is very good, btw). Even so, the song itself was worth more than the $9.99.