Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Parental advisory.

Do you remember when you first started really liking music? For me it was probably a little later than most. I mean, sure, I used the $5 my grandpa gave me for ice cream on a Gloria Estefan tape once when I was about eight. And, of course, by then I already knew plenty of Cindy Lauper and Bananarama songs by heart. And I was super stoked when I got my very own walk man complete with a Lionel Richie Dancing on the Ceiling tape for my fourth grade birthday. And I definitely remember RUNNING home from the bus stop in 6th grade to catch the tail end of Madonna's Like a Prayer that had just started on the bus radio (Katie, ask Lizzie about this - she was there!). And I seriously almost lost my mind with excitement at the MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice concert in 7th grade...

Okay. My intro no longer makes sense. Evidently I have always really liked music. I guess what I am thinking about is when I started really liking good music. (I mean, Gloria Estefan? Really?) But that doesn't make sense either. I am a 33 year old woman who likes Britney Spears. A LOT. And not at all ironically.


Sorry about that. Moving on...

I guess what I was really thinking about was the first time I heard a song that made me stop and think, "Wow..." For me it was Radiohead's Creep when I was a junior in high school. I recorded it off the radio and listened to it again and again and again. It was the first time I remember a song speaking to me and saying something other than, "Let's dance!" The lyrics, the sound of Thom York's voice, the highs and the lows and the space in was perfect. I knew I would love that song forever.

What I didn't know, and could never have guessed in a million years, was that someday I'd have friends who would perform that song a cappella on national television.

Or that because of that my four year old would become a HUGE fan of my favorite song. First the Street Corner Symphony version (we have all of their live songs on a CD in my car...or at least we did before Liam took it out and put it in his room), and then after we introduced it to him for comparison, the Radiohead version.


He's OBSESSED. The other morning before his first day at a new preschool he said, "You know what we need to get this day started right? A little Radiohead." Then he proceeded to rock out to Creep on repeat until I dragged him out the door and strapped him into his car seat.

First day jitters? Not any more!

What I also couldn't have predicted all those years ago would be the conversation I had about my favorite song with my child last night. We were in the kitchen making dinner and listening to the latest mixed CD Bill made Liam (as random as they come...everything from You Be Illin to Sitting on the Dock of the Bay). After we listened to the full version of Street Corner Symphony's Creep, Liam ran off to get his Radiohead CD so we could listen to the original. When he came back to the kitchen he said, "Mama, guess what? You're never going to believe this. Number 13 is Creep but so is number 2. Creep is on this CD twice!"

Are you familiar with this album? If so, you can probably guess how the rest of this conversation unfolded. See, #13 is the radio friendly version. The version where Thom York sings, "You're so very special, I wish I was special..." #2 is the uncensored version. The version where instead of saying very, he goes ahead and drops the F bomb.

"That's right, Liam. Creep is on that CD twice. But the songs are not exactly the same."

"They're not? What's different about them?"

"Well..." Was there anyway to get out of this? "Number two has a very powerful word in it and number 13 does not. Do you want to listen to it so you can hear it for yourself?"

"NO! I don't want to hear it!" And he ran off into his room. Great. Now he was scared of the F word. I called for him to come back but he just poked his head out of the door and said, "I'll just listen to it from in here. Go ahead and play the song!" Darn. I guess it was my fault for calling it "very powerful". All I meant by powerful was, "Not to be repeated in in front of your Grandma or at school." It's just a word after all.

So I grabbed my boy and marched him back into the kitchen so we could listen to some uncensored music together.

But first I did my best to explain to him that words only have power if you let them have power. I mean, they're just letters strung together, right? Some are nicer than others (and some are definitely inappropriate for a four year old to be saying in mixed company) but they don't actually have power all on their own. At least nothing you need to be afraid of.

Before I hit play, he stopped me. "Well, what's the word? The very powerful one. What is it?"

Busted. "Oh. Um. The word? Well..." I wanted to just say "the F word" but he wouldn't have any idea what I was talking about. If it was just letters, why was I having such a hard time saying it out loud? Suddenly it felt both very powerful and very silly. There was really no way out of this but to straight up teach my son the F word. So I took a deep breath and said, "It's...fuckin."



"Fuckin. Huh. Fuckin. It doesn't sound very powerful." He crinkled his nose and said it again. "It sounds kind of funny." He was right. It sounded completely ridiculous! Fuckin? Who says that? Why didn't I go with the classic "fuck" or even "fucking"? Why did the first real swear word I taught my son have to be "fuckin"? It's not even really a word!

But it didn't matter to Liam. He was hooked. It was like he could feel the power rolling around in his mouth (even with all that bubble tape in there!). Even after I told him that even though it's just a word, it's not a word we need to say all that often, he kept finding reasons to drop it into conversation. " number 13 they say very but in number two they say fuckin. That's the only difference. Fuckin!" Or, "You know, since fuckin is too powerful to say to some people, you could just say freakin if you didn't want to say very. You're so freakin special. That would work, right?" Or, "I wonder why people think fuckin is so powerful. It's just a word!"

Yes, Liam, it's just a word. A word no four year old should EVER repeat outside this house. Got it? Don't make me look like a terrible fuckin mother, okay? Okay?!?

He promised he'd never say it to anyone. "Don't worry, Mama. I won't say fuckin to anyone. I promise."

So, there you go. If your kid drops the F-bomb (or some silly version of it...) at the dinner table, HE DIDN'T HEAR IT FROM LIAM.


savvy splendor said...

This is why you are the fuckin mother of the year in my book. I'm being serious. You are such a brilliantly honest parent. Love you.

Anonymous said...

so fuckin' funny- totally laughing out loud!!! I love going for the abbreviated slang- so much funnier! Love this and LOVE that Liam likes Radiohead so much!


Girl Engineer said...

I'm usually a lurker, but I had to comment - O.M.G. It must be Parents Teach Their Kids to Swear Day or something. Spuds over at Carrying a Cat by the Tail mentions "funk" in today's HILARIOUS story. As the mom of three boys, I totally get where you're coming from... and I think the f-bomb is learned really, really, really young these days. Love reading your stories!

No Mommy Brain said...

thanks, all! and hello girl engineer! i'll go check out the blog you mentioned right now - thanks!

Jp said...

Wow! This is so funny yet very realistic. At first you made me reminisce the old times but then you got me thinking what words my kids hear in songs everyday. I gotta talk to them :)

Anonymous said...

HHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHhaaa! Awesome! And Maggie I remember distinctly me racing home to watch the Like a Prayer video and it was totally sponsored by Pepsi and I remember LOVING it!! Thank you for sharing. You FUCKING ROCK!!