Possible unpopular opinion alert: entertainment for kids today – music, movies, even some books – well, it’s terrible. A little. Right?
I mean sure – good, new stuff does exist. I have no objection to that. But I do take objection with the some of the stuff that typically becomes overly popular among youths. Things like… all the music that hails from former Disney Channel stars. Or Caillou. Don’t even get me started on Caillou.
Some of that just can’t be helped – your child is at some point going to watch Frozen and become
mildly entirely obsessed with singing Let it Go (I didn’t hate Frozen, for the record – just the 4 gazillionth rendition of LiG); someone at preschool is going to have a Teletubbies lunchbox and they’ll want to have/watch that, too. But some of it is within our control as parents.
We do have a say, perhaps to a small degree, in what our kids are exposed to, and more importantly – what they love.
I can’t take all the credit for this idea – my husband is the one who inspired me to really get involved in our daughter’s tastes in this way. He is so good at this. Our girl has seen all 3 Back to the Futures and can sing you almost any U2 or Gregory Alan Isakov song from memory, thanks to him. As the years have passed, I know that our steady infiltration of her tastes is starting to stick.
Because we mentioned it as a popular show when we were kids, she has watched every episode of Full House – the original. (The new seasons too, but like I said – we can’t control everything.) For most of first grade, her references and jokes were all dated by about 20 years, because she was spending all her screen time with the Tanner sisters. That was a treat for us all.
At bedtime, while we sing lots of the old standbys (Somewhere Over the Rainbow, My Favorite Things, etc.) she also regularly requests songs by Marc Cohn, Ben Folds, Brandy Carlisle, The Wailin’ Jennys. Hearing your daughter humming your favorite obscure tunes while she goes about her day is maybe the most heart-swelling thing I’ve experienced to date.
We haven’t seen a lot of current movies, but this weekend when we have some free time, we have several 1960’s musicals queued up, as well as lots of old-school Disney flicks starring Hayley Mills and Fred Murray. Of course while we are now limited to age-appropriate productions, I look forward to the days when we can move on to Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead and Sixteen Candles.
I am also blessed with a daughter who is as much a reader as I am. And while she spends lots of time reading The Nevergirls and Dork Diaries – we are also making our way through the Harry Potter series. We’ve read many of my favorite Roald Dahl books, she’s got Nancy Drew in her backpack, and her shelf is littered with Little House on the Prairies and The Boxcar Children.
Don’t get me wrong – my daughter is in-the-know in a BIG way.
She knows all of the songs currently on the radio, most of which I have never once heard. She talked about Trolls for months and she’ll beg for every chintzy read at the book fair next week. She’s not weird or out of touch with current popular culture – quite the opposite. But if I have my say, her favorites will always be a little outside the 3rd grade norms. I recently had to break it to her that her friends might not be as excited as her if her movie-themed birthday was 1967’s The Happiest Millionaire starring Lesley Ann Warren. She took it pretty well.
Share your favorites with your kids. Play your favorite songs. Show them the movies you loved when you were a kid. Some of it will hold up, some of it will just be satisfyingly nostalgic. And sometimes you’ll be first in line for whatever new stuff is cool and terrible. But maybe you’ll get to listen to good music on the car ride there. And that’s something, right?