Smooth-talking disk jockeys who reside on the far end of the FM dial are now telling my kids what’s hot when it comes to music. Ryan Seacrest’s recommendations about what’s hip are sacrosanct, while I’m a mildly annoying fogey who, my 8-year-old recently informed me, dances like “an old lady.”
I’m the family’s designated music downloader -- the person who buys singles from iTunes and puts them on everyone’s iPod. (I don’t have an iPod, but that’s another story.)
Recently, however, my twin 11-year-olds and my 8-year-old have kindly requested that I cease placing unauthorized music on their iPods because my selections are so, ya know, lame and old school. And I’m rather unhappy about this new development.
For a few precious years, after the children had grown tired of so-called “kids’” music (Raffi and the like) my musical tastes constituted the major influence on my children. They listened to a mix of U2, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay, the Dave Matthews Band and an eclectic medley of tunes I’d heard on "Grey’s Anatomy."
My CD collection became their CD collection (this was before they had their own iPods, they had no complaints. We all sang along to more or less the same music, with the exception of my daughter’s Hannah Montana/"High School Musical"/Jonas Brothers/Demi Lovato fixation. (She still listens to Disney-centric music, but she’s alone in her admiration, at least in this house.)
But that was before the kids discovered a local pop station and it proceeded to wrap its reptilian arms around them and squeeze me out of the picture, music-wise. Now they listen to top 40 countdown shows on a boom box in their “Kids Squad” playroom in the basement, which they’ve transformed into a “kids’ only” hangout (adults can enter, with permission) where the gymnastics matt they got several Christmases ago has been converted into a “sofa.”
They’ve pilfered pillows and blankets from the house in order to make their room comfy so they can lounge around while listening to the latest pop offerings, maybe intermittently lobbing their Nerf basketballs at the hoop on the back of the door.
The kids now emerge from their playroom with lists of artists and songs, most of which I’ve never heard, and ask me to put them on their iPods. The first time they did this and I attempted to vet the songs in advance to see if they were explicit or inappropriate for them, I did not go quietly into the night.
In a vain attempt to reclaim my position as their personal DJ, I’d go rogue and slip a new U2 single or a classic Rolling Stones jam onto their iPods amidst the requested tunes that I’d approved. They’d inevitably return and respectfully ask me to remove what I’d added.
This is moving a little quickly, this supplanting. Smooth-talking disk jockeys who reside on the far end of the FM dial are now telling my kids what’s hot when it comes to music. Ryan Seacrest’s recommendations about what’s hip are sacrosanct, while I’m a mildly annoying fogey who, my 8-year-old recently informed me, dances like “an old lady.”
It’s not as though I had deluded myself into thinking I’d be like an uber-hip Lorelai Gilmore and that my kids would look up to me the way Lorelai’s teenaged Rory daughter did on the fictional TV show "Gilmore Girls."
Well, maybe I did want us to be able to share music together like Lorelai and Rory, at least until they got into their mid-teens. And I’m not too proud to admit that it stings a bit to have some random guy on the radio suddenly become their arbiter of what’s tank. What, you haven’t heard of the word “tank” as a synonym for the word “cool?” Read on, my fellow oldsters, lest you be enlightened.
My response to being summarily replaced as the resident pop culture guru hasn’t been good, I’m sorry to say. In fact, after my musical selections were bounced from their iPods, I found myself sliding into Phil Dunphy territory.
Let me explain: Phil Dunphy is a well-meaning but goofy fictional father on the new ABC comedy "Modern Family" who tries to be “down” with them there teenyboppers, often to embarrassing ends. For example, he thinks he’s up to speed on the latest texting lingo and proudly says he knows that “WTF” means, “Why the face?” (it doesn’t) and then brags that he knows all the words to the songs from the "High School Musical" movies, plus the accompanying dance moves.
My “why the face,” wake-up moment occurred a few weeks ago when I attempted to use new-ish slang with my 11-year-old son. I invoked the word “beast,” meaning cool.
“Mooom!” my son said, “It’s not ‘beast’ anymore!"
“When did that happen?” I asked, chagrined. “What do you mean?"
“Yeah, that’s the new word,” he said.
Later, I checked with the Urban Dictionary of slang words online for that particular use of the word “tank” (which is an inherently uncool thing to do) and discovered that “tank’s” too new, even for that slang dictionary. I suppose once it’s in that dictionary and the likes of me are using it, it’ll cease being tank.
Back to this music thing. I’m not going to be rushing to download the top 10 song list from the local pop radio station anytime soon.
I now realize that I need to stop trying so hard and stop worrying about whether my current favorite tunes are hip with my offspring. The kids’ll like what they like, and if they so happen to enjoy some of same songs as me from time to time, well, that’d be great.
I’ve also decided it’d be a good idea to readjust my expectations and be pleasantly surprised when we happen to like the same songs, instead of expecting that they will, because I seriously don’t wanna be as woefully clueless as Phil Dunphy who thinks he’s tank, but he’s not. LOL.
Columnist Meredith O’Brien blogs about parenting at the Picket Fence Post (wickedlocalparents.com/picketfencepost) and about pop culture at Suburban Mom (suburbanmomnotes.blogspot.com). Follow her on Twitter: MeredithOBrien.