“Wait, Mom! Keep that! It’s Katie Perry.” I’m flipping through the dial, trying to find some holiday music on the radio.
Or at least anything that has nothing to do with guns. This hasn’t been easy the past couple weeks.
“Cause baby, you’re a fiah-work!” Sophie warbles from the back seat. “Come on let your col-ors burn,”
“It’s “come on let your colors burst,’” I say. Just trying to be helpful, of course.
“Nuh-huh. I’m right and you’re wrong!” Sophie says in a drawly, sing-songy mean girl voice.
Does puberty start at five now? But I’ve been feeding her hormone free milk!
Another day she comes home from school singing,
“We are NEVER EVER EVER GETTING BACK TOGETHER,” with all the angst and indignation of a jilted teenager.
“What is up with that?” I ask.
“Oh, it’s just something my friends and I were singing on the playground.” She proceeds to repeats the refrain about 316 times.
Much to my surprise, we later hear this song on the radio. It’s Taylor Swift, and—no offense to Ms. Swift, but it is awful, particularly the spoken parts of the song:
Huh, he calls me up and he’s like, I still love you. And I’m like, I’m just, I mean this is exhausting. You know? We are never getting back together, like ever.
Is this even English? I mean, I recognize each individual word, but what happened to the syntax? Maybe if Taylor was being ironic, I could stand it.
But something tells me Ms. Swift is dead serious.
And Sophie LOVES it, with all the fervor of a tiny teeny bopper. This new passion is hard to fathom. She made the switch from Baby Beluga to Lady Gaga so suddenly. One week my 6 CD changer was full of Music Together, the next week Sophie told me, “I don’t want to listen to that. Turn on some traffic music.”
“Traffic music” is Sophie’s term for “radio.” I haven’t had the heart to correct her. It’s a sign that she’s still my little girl. I know I don’t have much longer before she drops this like she dropped Raffi.
“Turn on some traffic music, please.” There is only so much adolescent behavior one can take from a five-year-old.
“Turn on some traffic music, please,” she replies in my intonation. Mocking me? “I want to hear “Call Me Maybe.’”
Sophie gets frustrated with me when I can’t immediately locate her favorite songs. She doesn’t seem to get that I do not control the traffic music. That somewhere, in a station far far away, a computer is carefully selecting, playing, and replaying songs with the aim of cultivating her addiction—playing the song just often enough to prevent her from touching that dial, while ensuring that the lyrics take up 40% of her brain space.
DJs are cultivating her taste. Which, in my humble opinion, leaves something to be desired. Not that Sophie doesn’t have her preferences. She does. After all there has to be some innate inclinations, something inscribed upon her genes that the environment coaxes out into the open. Like me, she seems to have an affinity for mellifluous chick music. But my chicks are Susanna McCorkle, Helen Merrill, and Billie Holiday, and hers have dollar signs instead of letters in their names.
That’s right. Still not out of her princess dresses, Sophia quotes Ke$ha while playing Legos…
“stockings ripped all up the side….”
The next line, if one is keeping current, is “looking sick and sexified. I jump in, “looking slick and Sophified!” I shout.
“Stop it mom.” Sophie says, “that’s not how it goes!” But she doesn’t sing the next line. I have successfully diverted her. This time.
Am I going to have to resort to Kidz Bop? I had always been somewhat put off by the genre—a bunch of kids singing sanitized versions of the latest pop songs. I remember my sister telling me a story that before her son could speak, he would run up to the television and point at the stars of Kidz Bop and grunt, preverbally expressing his desire to rock out to his very own Kidz Bop album. I figured it must have some strange juju to do that, hypnotizing toddlers through the screen and convincing them they want to live La Vida Loca (Kidz Bop 1, Circa 2002).
I cringe at the thought of having to listen to it. Their saccharine, overly exuberant voices transforming the barely tolerable into the detestable. I’ve spent too many years paying my dues, listening to Music Together. It’s high time this girl gets some exposure to what’s out there.
So, when I come to something that I like. I make her listen. Or I play my own albums, despite her protests. Last week, she sat through four tracks of the Police. After dinner one night, Kevin and I force fed her Graceland for dessert. And recently, I instituted a rule that when cruising the dial we always stop for the Beatles.
Though she puts up a fight, I find that the same principle Top 40 stations operate on, works for other stuff too: repetition breeds appreciation.
The proof is in the singing. Soon after we began the mandatory taste-making sessions, Sophie sprang from her bath and dripping, she danced around in front of the full length bathroom singing a line from one of my favorite Police songs (about, ahem, a student-teacher romance), “Don’t stand! Don’t stand so! Don’t stand so close to me!”
Yes, perhaps still inappropriate. But the influence is purely mine.