broadcast news

My VW wagon hipster-mobile {hey.  it isn’t a minivan.  Let me ride in glory.} is old school enough to have a tape deck.  It holds only a single CD.  There are no fancy buttons on this sound system.  Honestly, the only one I want is ‘repeat’ so the kids and I can sing our hearts out to Katy Perry’s Firework without me being completely paranoid about the next song starting before I can hit the ‘back’ button.  {I don’t count ‘back’ as a fancy button.  It is the digital analog of R<< and we had that one in the 80’s}.

{you don’t have to feel like a waste of space
you’re original, cannot be replaced}

Yes.  I own this CD.  Before I owned this CD I knew three things about Katy Perry.  1.  Her hair was occasionally Cookie Monster blue.  2.  Glee did a cover of ‘Teenage Dream’  3.  I cried every time I watched the ‘Night of Too Many Stars’ duet of Firework with Jodi DiPiazza, an 11 year-old living with autism.

{If you only knew what the future holds
After a hurricane comes a rainbow}

So yes, I own this CD.  It is out of character enough that seeing it in my car actually made my friend Kelli burst with surprised laughter as she slid into the passenger seat recently.  In my defense, the holidays were crazy.  In my defense, the one song I had heard was fabulous.  In my defense…you are right.  No defense.  Just epic fail.  Parenting style.

Because you see, I didn’t buy it for myself, I bought it for Cole.  Have you seen the cover art?  Enough said.

I thought it would be great to give our kids music for Christmas this year.  Instead of simply downloading something from iTunes, I thought it would be fun for them to unwrap it.  And it was great.  Or at least my choice for Eleanor was.  Jack Johnson’s Curious George soundtrack has been delightful.  Cole’s was Katy Perry.

{Maybe you reason why all the doors are closed
So you could open one that leads you to the perfect road}

So you see, I own this CD and it lives in my car.  And what felt like 12 times this morning I hit the ‘back’ button so my daughter and I could belt it out on the drive to school.  It was a lovely way to spend the time together.  And as I listened to her pip-squeekingly earnest rendition, I thought about all the messages in our children’s lives.  I thought about where they come from.  About what we say and what we leave unsaid.

{You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July}

When our children are very small the only messages they get are ours.  As they grow, the chorus of voices heard includes teachers and peers, and parents of friends.  As they learn to read and have more media exposure, the voices grow louder, sometimes drowning ours out.  But what about those first messages?  The ones that come from us?  What if we were to create a soundtrack over the course of a day?  What would the tunes be?  And how about the lyrics?  Sometimes it is a spoken word piece filled with angst and worry.  Sometimes a sweet ballad of reassurance.  And sometimes we channel our inner boy band, singing a pop song full of catchy lines a bit light on substance.  And sometimes, it is instrumental.

The wordless tunes.  The songs we stumble over.  We hum along, hoping it will be sufficient to fill the void.  The void created by topics we don’t want to address.  The subjects that make us cringe. The ones we wish would simply go away.  Your past.  Your partner’s past.  The loud sounds coming from the house next door.  Grandma’s funny smelling breath, even early in the morning.  Why we need to wait to buy groceries this week.  The people on the street corner holding signs.  And what the signs mean.

If the music to these songs are purely instrumental, it doesn’t mean your children aren’t hearing lyrics.  The are.  It’s just that the verse is coming from other sources.  They hear jokes at recess.  Swap stories on the bus.  They see it on social media.  Just because they are no longer two and no longer asking why every 37 seconds doesn’t mean they aren’t curious.  They are.  And they will listen with radio ears to any broadcasting frequency.

Have you watched a broadcast in the middle of a breaking story?  When no one knows the outcome and the details are sketchy?  Even the most experience journalists trip over words, have awkward pauses, make bad connections to a reporter in the field.  It’s okay.  We understand.

So do our kids.  It’s okay if we begin with ‘this is really hard for me to talk about, but let’s have a conversation’.  It’s important for them to hear ‘I’m not sure where I stand on this issue, but here’s what I know’.  It’s freeing for them when you start with ‘I used to feel this way, but I’ve changed my mind’.  It lets them know we are still growing up, no matter how old we are.  Introducing topics doesn’t have to mean a lecture series.  In fact, it is the law of inverses.  They listen more intently the fewer words we say.  It can simply be woven into the fabric of our everyday discussions, for the more often we talk about these subjects, the easier it becomes.

Why not be their 24 hour news source?  Why not be the channel they turn to first?  And what about the human-interest stories, the ones we broadcast in between the news cycles?  Is there a track you have on repeat?  And is it the one you want them to hear over and over again?  Keep me posted.

{Even brighter than the moon, moon, moon
It’s always been inside of you, you, you
And now it’s time to let it through}

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