Today as my daughter Ella and I drove down the highway, singing along to the new Rihanna song, I realized that one of my cardinal rules as a parent had insidiously been broken. My rule is, “Never let your kids choose the music in the car.”
I don’t like ‘kid music,’ with the exception of Elizabeth Mitchell-all of my babies listened to “You Are My Little Bird.” I know that it has gotten a lot better, Dan Zanes and all, but most kid music still feels like nails on a chalkboard to me. Our kids have always listened primarily to our music at home and in the car, and they pretty much embraced our limited spectrum.
Plus, the car has always been the one place in our world where my kids are quiet. They look out the window. They read their battered Bearenstein Bears books. They daydream and space out. This is no small thing when you have three highly chatty, verbal children who all have something to say ninety percent of the time.
It all started with XM Radio, home of a million different channels. Slowly but surely, my kids started requesting their own favorite stations. Maybe we’d be driving to a soccer game, and George needed a little “Ozzy Boneyard” as a pick me up. Or Sophie would request KIIS, one of the pop music stations, and get all moony over Maroon Five. Before I knew it, my two year old was tyrannically demanding KIIS and throwing tantrums if she did not get her way. She has even learned some letters at daycare and could read the radio console to say, “That is not K for K-I-I-S.”This was just not okay!
I can handle a little “Hair Nation,” on occasion, but wow, those pop songs do stick. And two out of three of my children now clamor for Pink, Kelly Clarkson, and Nicki Minaj. Gone are the days when Sophie’s favorite song was by LCD Soundsystem. And now when we climb into the car, I am bombarded with requests for different radio stations. This was definitely not okay! Where had our quiet car sanctuary gone, where I was the music dictator, and no one really cared or realized that anything could be different?
Now my husband and I are all too familiar with the latest pop music. We know that Justin Timberlake has a new song out. A few weeks ago when we were on a ‘ski date’ up on Big Mountain, Erick could not stop singing, “I got twenty dollars in my POCKET.” Sometimes this music makes my ears bleed, but sometimes, when I am driving by myself, I have been known to play some KIIS. It gets under your skin.
I guess I am learning to share, but I am also learning to reset those boundaries. My husband and I are not okay with anyone clamoring and whining for anything, so we are trying to climb back up that slippery slope. We give some choices, but we also make it clear when Daddy and I want to listen to some bluegrass or some electronica.
And, yes, our kids will still listen pretty happily (except for the two year old) to New Wave (all 80’s all the time!), the Grateful Dead, or Sirius XM U. And, yes, I am addicted to seeing my toddler shimmy in her car seat to Bruno Mars and sing along to Carly Rae Jepsen.
But they will never ever know that there is a Disney Channel…