When I hear parents talk about playing ‘children’s CDs’ in their car (sometimes begrudgingly and sometimes with pleasure), I react in much the same way as when I hear people say that they iron their bedding or their tea towels: ‘What?’, I think to myself, ‘You’re really supposed to do that?’.
Am I really expected to spend 10 years listening to music in my car that I don’t even like? I don’t remember signing up to that!
So I get it. Children need to go through a stage of shocking musical taste: bobbing to S Club equivalents; staring dreamily at posters of boy band lotharios; and warbling along to the strains of bland X Factor winners. All this they need to do as part of their ‘pupa’ stage before emerging as beautiful, discerning, music-loving butterflies. I know this. I DID this. I have vivid memories of sitting in my bedroom aged approximately 14, repeatedly playing my Michael Bolton tape (note: CDs had not made the big time at this stage). And I also know that this stage is crucial; that it can’t be by-passed; that you cannot enforce your idea of good musical taste onto your children: they need to discover for themselves.
But hey, I can certainly try my best to shape my children’s musical taste because ultimately that’s what parents do isn’t it? Try to pass on their own values, expectations and even tastes to their children? Or is that just me?
One of my proudest moments of the year was when my 8 year old had to take her favourite CD to Brownies and she chose my Vampire Weekend album. ‘Mission music-taste conversion well and truly in progress’, I thought smugly. I am winning the battle (for the moment at least).
I am aware that my victory may be short-lived. The joy of my daughter’s voice drifting from another room singing ‘Secret Meeting’ by The National, is sometimes replaced by the strains of that darned song from Frozen or the John Lewis Christmas advert….and that’s OK really. I know I will have to face the reality of losing my hold on the musical experiences of my children. Family trips to the Greenman Festival and constant immersion in the Kraftwerk back catalogue (husband responsible for that one) will eventually fail to hold back the tide of tweeny pop. But for the time being, I am content in the knowledge that my 6 year old daughter will often burst spontaneously into a chorus of ‘Hang the DJ, hang the DJ.’
For now at least, my work here is done.
I feel compelled to add a footnote here in deference to the people who know me and who will see the glaring omissions in this post. I admit, here on a public forum, that I am more than a little partial to listening to the Glee soundtrack; S Club’s finest hits and (my top favourite) ‘Moves like Jagger’ when the mood takes me. It’s not a crime. I just didn’t mention it because I am trying to look cool. OK?