"Mommy, can you turn on Star 94?" Where we live, this is the cool radio station, playing top 40 hits. It's more like same ten songs over and over again, but I have to point it out for my boys to notice. They did not discover it on their own; it is one of my radio presets. I do not listen to it often on my own, I seem to prefer the sound of 80s and 90s. Those will be oldies very soon, but I pretend that I am back in high school or college, and still young and hip.
My boys ask for Star 94. I cannot be a hypocrite, listening to this music myself, but keeping it away from them, so depending on the situation, I will turn it on. We do a lot of driving to taekwondo when it is just me and the boys, no younger siblings requesting "baby song CDs". A song comes on. The boys crack up. Me: "Is it "Stitches"?" Boys: "No it's the other one, "I can't feel my face when I'm with you"." They know that I object to both of those songs. They ask me why, and I tell them how I think love should not require numb faces or stitches post-kissing. I ask them what they think falling in love feels like. They are still young, no crushes that I know of. 11 yo describes a scene from the end of "Inside Out". I smile, it is so innocent and sweet. He hits on the awkwardness and blushing. I tell them which other songs about love I do not object to: "Sugar" by Maroon5, "We Found Love Right Where We Are".
It hit me now, even though I object to it, I am speaking their language. I am in tune to what they are listening to. I can discuss it, and voice my reservations. I can state my opinions about love and point out which songs describe love that is worth aspiring to.
I remember realizing as a child that all songs were either about falling in love, or breaking up. (Patriotic songs are about love, too, love for a country or ideals. Religious songs were not on my radar, although they are about love of G-d and G-dly world). I also remember not having these discussions with my parents. My father listening to the radio playing "American Pie", me, dancing along, my mother entering, asking him to turn it off, it is too loud.
My husband hooks up his phone in the kitchen to a small radio stereo, playing Youtube playlists. By the end of the day I am in auditory overload, from all the kids screaming, from being talked to all day long, especially by my verbose oldest. I ask him to turn it off. "Mommy does not like music". No, Mommy needs her quiet so that thoughts can line up at least once a day.
But it is different there in the car, in the middle of the morning. I should be downloading shiurim onto the iPod, giving these kids some Torah, some learning. I could be checking out more audio books from the library. I ought to be exposing them to classical music. But I am rushing out of the house with the baby who has to be woken up to be dropped off at the babysitter. After she is dropped off, I get a request for Star 94. I can finally breathe, and I give in. They roll their eyes when every station plays the same latest song. I nod, and we exchange those brief remarks about the songs.
We are learning to keep communication channels open, and if music assists us, so be it.