If I can be honest for just a minute here without being judged too harshly, I’ll freely admit that I love the children’s singing group, The Wiggles. I care not a tiny turd what this says about me to the cool, hipster parents who cannot tolerate allowing their children access to anything but the grown up music that they deem to have a higher quality and yet lack any potential benefit for developing children.
Depending on their little temperaments, children will either suffer in silence with your choices, or pretend to like the more complicated sounds and lyrics. Eventually think your music is either A) total crap or B) old school “classic rock” that they ditch in favor of shitty rap about bitches and bling or whatever is trendy or mainstream at the time.
I just grabbed my 11 year old boy’s iPod and looked at the first few songs on the shuffle; Dirty Girl by Bobby Light (clean version), My Name is – Slim Shady by Eminem, Zombie Love Song By Your Favorite Martian, Psycho Killer by The Talking Heads and Don’t Stop Believing by Journey –Glee version that I downloaded on his account OOPS! This is the kid whose interest in The Wiggles bordered on obsession, by clinical definition. I’m not kidding. Does it matter what they listen to as babies? I’ll answer that question with an unequivocal YES! Yes, it does. The way they learn to communicate with you and with others, along with their memories and emotions are formed through association with music. The Wiggles did not ruin my son. They did not turn him gay or make him take up the accordian and start a polka band.
Little ears and little brains like simplicity and repetition. Simple rhythms and beats, soothing sounds, catchy tunes with easy to understand and repetitive lyrics are what help their little brains grow and their language develop. I usually keep my mouth shut when some ignorant blow hard or newbie parent talks about how they won’t let their children listen to children’s music because it is dumb- down garbage, but believe me, it’s not without great effort. I will tell you that when I have their kid in my dumpy mini-van, that kid is singing his/her little heart out to some Laurie Berkner band.
I cannot imagine the joy I would have missed if my son had not taken every single opportunity to pick up tree branches EVERYWHERE we went so that he could pretend to be one of The Wiggles at the playground or park. He sang himself asleep and awake to the painfully annoying songs by Barney and Friends, Elmo, Big Bird, Ernie, Bert and Oscar the Grouch. My daughter frequently walks around reminding herself not to bite her friends because DJ Lance and his trippy, dildo-like creature friends on Yo Gabba Gabba put it to a catchy tune for her learning and singing pleasure.
The girl child is currently enamored with Katy Perry (who I just found out has a cat named Kitty Purry) and playing her songs over and over and over and over and over and…..ears bleeding, over. It’s Friday night ALL the time around this joint lately (only a Katy Perry fan would understand that). The boy thinks The DJ Khaled is “beast,” which is the 6th grade word for cool. I’m zero for two here, people, but maybe truly who can keep score when it comes to music? My kids are learning and loving music, and becoming their own unique people because they get to make their own choices (even if I have to walk around with pink foam earplugs in until they move out).
There are times when we jam out to some Beatles, or they pretend to like my karaoke version of JoDee Messina’s Bye Bye. Lately they even tolerate my obsession with Joe Satriani almost willingly. I hope that in some way they actually do take a part of me with them, as they put together the pieces of who they are, while we are all living in these very tight, noisy quarters.
The magic of music is that it’s also a way to communicate with your children at whatever age they are. The key is to meet them where they are and know that even if it doesn’t last, there will be some harmony (ß-you don’t have to be a Katy Perry fan to get that one.)
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