Monday, September 8, 2014

“Mom, please, can I watch Queen now? You know, the fun one?”

Fandoms are fun!
OK, I admit inside I did do a Mommy Victory Dance of Joy when my daughter reqested I put on the Bohemian Rhapsody music video. As much as I want my girls to be themselves, have their own tastes, explore their personalities and feel free to have opinions which differ from mine or my husband’s, part of me really dreads the idea of them crying and screaming over pop singers like Justin Bieber or whoever else is out there (I’m really trying to not know). I remember thinking the girls around me who were losing their minds over New Kids on the Block were slightly nuts, and then as a mom hearing about girls physically harming themselves over that Bieber kid just made me eeek a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I love fun fandoms and being enthusiastic about stuff (this Simon Pegg quote is on our fridge), but I think enthusiasm and obsession are two very different things. And I think there is a difference between blind adoration and gleeful admiration.

So what do I do to try to counter the strangely obsessive pop culture stuff the girls encounter when they get to school? On weekends and in the mornings, I blast MY music at them (insert evil laugh). They do have their own CD player in their room and their own CDs – older one’s fave is her Taylor Swift Red CD and younger one loves her Everly Brothers – and they do have their own playlist on my phone which includes the Frozen soundtrack, but I admit to trying to teach them there is more music out there. When I was a kid, I listened to my parents’ favorites which was a lot of Beatles. I think that’s a great place to start. In Ukraine, that was all I played on my phone during our down time, and my daughter learned a lot of their songs. I also listened to Guns and Roses, Amy Grant, and Dead Milkmen when I was in elementary school. A bit of an eclectic mix, and I’m really not sure Dead Milkmen are entirely appropriate, so I might hold off on them (although I do still listen to them as a guilty pleasure occasionally).

In the mornings, while we are getting ready, I put on Pandora. Last year it was the Cat Stevens station.

So nice and chill! What a nice way to start the day. This year, I decided to boost the energy level a bit, so we switched to the Queen station. The girls LOVED it. I like to use weekends to push my own agendas (also known as parenting), so I spent a day just playing Queen songs and watching Queen videos on YouTube and talking about why Freddie Mercury was awesome. It was a really fun day. The girls were learning life lessons and how to head bang and insulting my hair (my hair naturally looks like Brian May's at its fluffiest), and I was getting bounce around like a doof and giggle and play with my kids. So what are the great lessons that can be learned from spending a day with Queen?

  1. If you are passionate about something, do that. Queen had a passion for music and creating new, cool songs together. Freddie Mercury had a passion for writing and singing. When the girls learned that he was singing right up until he died, they were impressed.
  2. If you have a talent, use it ALL. One of the girls favorite songs is Bohemian Rhapsody. They love how it sounds like so many pieces all in one. They also thought it was cool how not all the Queen songs over the years sounded alike. There is a variety of sounds and styles. When they learned the songs were written by the band members and they each had different tastes, but they agreed to use and appreciate the talents of everyone, the girls thought that was really cool. Talent wasn’t wasted. It was stretched.
  3. You don’t have to like everything about someone or know every detail to listen to or like their music. Ok, so this isn’t strictly Queen related, but it is important. Do I want my girls to imitate everything Queen or any other rock band did? Of course not! Although, the part about getting a degree in physics like Brian May can be imitated with my blessing. Liking a band does not mean memorizing every fact about them and shouldn’t. I like Ani DiFranco, but I have no idea when her birthday is. How does that change how her music makes me feel? Also, fans don’t need to prove themselves by trying to become in every way the people they are listening to. The girls can bounce around to Radio Ga Ga without needing to also get drunk in a bar in London. I like when there are some admirable qualities, of course, and those are what I focus on when I talk to the girls (physics degree, use of talent, camaraderie, creativity, etc), but everyone has flaws and makes mistakes. We talk about the flaws and learn from them, too, so we DON’T imitate those parts. Mostly, though, we talk about the music and enjoy it and live our own lives, because frankly we are awesome as is. The girls know the name of Freddie Mercury and that is pretty much all the Queen trivia they can give you. Everything else was broad strokes: they wrote their own songs, there were four of them, Freddie died after he got HIV, Crazy Little Thing Called Love was written in the bath tub (ok, that's specific, but funny so totally worth knowing).
  4. It’s ok to get pumped up about yourself. I love listening to Queen in the morning because I like the idea of sending my girls to school singing “We will ROCK YOU!” I want them pumped up about themselves and about life. I want them to celebrate their successes and be proud of themselves. I want them to feel like they can conquer the world. One thing we talked about was the difference in the messages of the songs. They weren’t all about dating or hooking up or breaking up. There were songs about simply kicking butt and being awesome. That, I think, is a good thing to have as a background soundtrack for a fourth grader.

If my daughters don’t like my same music, that’s fine. I assume they won’t like all the same things as me, but I can still expose them to it and talk to them about it. I can still try to teach them there is a world bigger than what they see and hear at the lunch table. And I can explain that they will most likely never marry a pop star, so devoting all their time, energy, and money to obsessing over one is not healthy. It is much healthier to just rock out and be awesome for themselves. So this is how I’m parenting in the mornings, and I’m having a good time empowering my girls, so don’t stop me now. (And, yes, this is my personal Mom Theme Song.)

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