TODAY’S MOMENT: INNOCENCE
While I was cooking dinner one night last week, my 8-year-old daughter danced into the kitchen singing. Her sweet voice was loud and proud. For one quick moment I thought about how beautiful and innocent it sounded.
Then I realized what she was singing. The Fun song… We Are Young. A song I like.
But hearing her voice sing this lyric stopped me – “Give me a second, I need to get my story straight, my friends are in the bathroom getting higher than the Empire State…”. Yes, she sang that – loud and proud.
I froze, wondering if I should stop her. Then I thought if I point out that she is singing something, uh… not appropriate for an 8-year-old, she’d ask me WHY? Why can’t I sing that mom? Why isn’t that appropriate? What does it mean? I’m sure she has no idea what “getting higher than the Empire State” means. The thought of explaining it to her, seems premature. I mean, she’s only 8. So after this quick debate in my head, I let it slide for the time. And I sang along with her.
I didn’t think about it much again, until this past weekend. We were in the car and Bruno Mars came on the radio.
We turned it up loud and all sang along. After it was over, my daughter said “Mom, what does ‘Uptown Funk You Up’ mean?” My husband and I burst out laughing. Oh geez, another thing to explain. Or maybe not.
Once again, we decided to avoid the issue. We went with the “it’s just made up words for the song, honey. It doesn’t mean anything” explanation. And I did add – “By the way, don’t walk around singing that to everyone, okay?”!!
But it got me thinking about a couple of things.
First, what is an appropriate age to explain “stuff” to my daughter? Drugs, sex? No way. Eight seems way too young.
As it is, I was devastated that she recently learned there are things called “curse words”. Thanks to a neighborhood kid. Yes, a boy. Boys seem to know all the bad stuff at a much younger age. One day at school, he spelled all the curse words for her. He told her he’s not allowed to say them, but he could spell them. So she came home from school that day and asked me – “Mom, what’s a curse word?”. And then she spelled “F*@K” for me! And pretty much every other one too. Thanks neighbor kid. We then had a nice chat about words only grown-ups can use.
My second thought about the singing was the whole idea of banning certain music and/or not letting my daughter listen to certain artists. I have a friend who recently questioned music played at a child’s birthday party. The kids were all approximately 7-years-old. And she had a dance-themed party. A few of them moms complained about some of the music played. For instance, Pink. Who I love by the way. And so does my daughter. She jumps around her room singing – “so raise a glass if you are wrong, in all the right ways”. But apparently some of the moms thought her songs were too “risqué” for their 7-year-olds.
So what are the options?
Explaining the facts of life? Not yet.
Banning music? In my opinion no.
I am glad no one banned music from me when I was young. I have a very clear, and fun, memory of sauntering around my bedroom, singing into my hairbrush. Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” was a favorite of mine (all about prostitutes! But I had no clue). I’m glad no one banned me from listening to it.
And you know what? I’m pretty sure my mom thought my 10-year-old voice singing along to it sounded sweet and innocent too.
So for now, I say to my daughter, “sing it loud, and sing it proud”. And we will deal with the explanations later.