Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sing With Me

[Note: This post was originally published on The Mrs on August 6th, 2011.]

Parenting truth: kids are great at showing the world how much you suck as a parent — regardless of actual suckage — because everything and anything can be taken out of context and will always look way worse than it really is.

The level of apparent atrocity will directly relate to the level of innocence behind an act. In other words: the more innocent an act, the more horrible it will outwardly appear.

Case in point: music.

One of our boys’ favourite activities is to sing lyrics of songs they love, occasionally shouting them at the top of their lungs.

Usually in public, of course.

A slightly different version of this game is to sing overtop of each other, each attempting to correct the other’s goofy lyrics... and this amuses them. Immensely.

Music as play is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for melody- and wordplay, and anything creative is a good thing in my books, but...

It’s not just any music.

Oh no, they don’t choose anything adorable and childish... no She’ll be Coming ’Round the Mountain, or Skinnamarink for them... oh, no, they wait (in ambush) until we’re eight carts deep in the not-so-express Walmart lineup, and then start to hum, then sing Raise Your Glass by Pink.

If you’re not 100% familiar with this song, the chorus goes

Raise your glass if you are wrong
in all the right ways
all my underdogs
we will never be, never be
anything but loud
and nitty gritty
dirty little freaks

Charming, yes?

And there’s another — of course four-year-old favourite — line, that goes “party crasher, panty snatcher. Call me up if you are gangster.”

Yep. The artist in question also occasionally spells her name P!nk. Seriously.

And I don’t judge. I really don’t care.

And I realize you could look at me and say that the reason my kids are singing Pink’s song is because they’ve been exposed to her music (dur).

But the thing is, they haven’t.

Let me clarify: they love this song. And it looks (sounds?) horrible, but if any one of those wide-eyed strangers in the Walmart express line asked my kids if a girl with questionable spelling sang Raise Your Glass, they’d adamantly correct that stranger and say no, it’s sung by a boy named Blaine.

Him. Not her.

Yes. My kids listen to the Glee versions of popular songs, because then I get a break from the traditional ‘kids’ music, and get to hear some fun, catchy, current, upbeat, well-produced music, without profanity.

(Okay, there’s the occasional ‘damn’ or ‘hell’ — but it could be worse.)

But I know how this looks. It looks like my kids (aged four and five) are listening to unedited pop music, swear words and all.

So, in the Walmart express line, when I saw the tell-tale hum as the four-year-old stamped his feet and pumped a fist into the air, about to burst into song, I might have acted a teensy bit like the King of Swamp Castle trying to avert the arias of his limp-dishrag son in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

But it was no use. Why do I even try?

And he wasn’t hurting anyone. He was actually being kind of quiet. And on key. Sort of. Or at least off-key and out-of-tune in a “I’m little and too cute to care” kind of way... that works, right?

I got a tap on my shoulder, and an older woman behind me all but shook her finger at me. “That song has the F word in it, you know.”

I wanted to say, “not the version my kids listen to,” or even snatch another F word from the song and fling it in her face (except my brain was choosing to be sluggish, and ‘freak’ and ‘fool’ were eluding me, unfortunately, since passive-aggressively implying she was both in reply would have been highly satisfying).

Thankfully, my five-year-old leaned in, as if on cue and in time with his brother’s singing, to belt out the lyric, “why so serious?”

And then I remembered: it’s my kids’ job to remind me who I am and who I want to be. And if that means letting people publicly question my parenting, I’m okay with that.

When it comes down to it, my boys are deliriously content to wait, singing, in a horrendous lineup with a full cart, after patiently shopping against their own wishes for the previous hour.

They weren’t touching items on the racks.

They weren’t fighting or hitting each other.

They weren’t whining, they weren’t melting down, and they weren’t asking for anything.

So outwardly, sure, this lady can question my child-rearing all she wants. But regardless of her opinion, I’m confident in my parenting skills.

Or skillz... whatever.

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