It’s Not All Mary Poppins


I smile as I pass my daughter’s room. A steady thump-thump of bass and a rowdy, raunchy straight-ahead rock melody pounds at the door. She doesn’t have the volume way too high, but she’s obviously having a good time in there. It’s her voice that makes me smile. I can’t catch the words, but I love to hear her sing.

When she emerges to have her shower, I ask what song that was. I hum the catchiest bit. She stares at me for a moment. “You liked that?” The girl’s obviously uncertain, and I hasten to reassure her. “Yes, really. It was fun. What song was it?”

She grins. “It’s called Teenagers.”

“And that line I was humming?”

Bigger grin. “The words for that are ‘teenagers scare the living shit out of me.’ ”

I had to listen, of course. With lyrics like that? How could I not?

It’s a jaunty, boppy, happy melody with nicely grinding guitars, good edgy/raw vocals. It’s fun, fun, fun melodically.

That chorus is SO MUCH fun, in fact, they repeat it, oh, 87 times, only pausing once or twice (okay, three times) for an actual verse. Which is just as well, because the verses don’t really hang together. You can’t trust adults, say the first two, but the third says other teenagers aren’t about to fill your world with love, either. Guess it sucks to be you, then.

(Emma read that paragraph over and said, “That’s about right, mum. They’re an Emo band, and that’s how they see the world.” ‘Emo’ being short for ’emotion’. Sadly, it seems that the only emotions these groups explore are the negative ones: cynicism, angst, world-weariness, anger, rage, loneliness.

“Doesn’t that bother you, Emma?”

“Well, I don’t listen to only Emo. That would be too depressing.”

Sensible enough. But she is 14, after all. All that Emo stuff is going to feel PERFECT some days.)

But this tune? This particular melody, despite the words? Is so FUN. It really is.

The disjointed themes of the verses don’t really matter when you’re fourteen, anyway. You’ll like verses one and two when you’re pissed at your parents, and you’ll rock with verse three when you’re fed up with your friends. And you’ll always get to dance your rage away. So, no matter who your adolescent angst is hating that particular day, this song works!

Yes, I am kind of mocking it, but I also truly enjoy the song. I will be copying it onto my iPod. As soon as I get one.

“I’m glad you like their music, mom, because I want a MCR poster, and they are just the kind of group that you would look at and say ‘WHY do you want THAT on your wall??’ ”

She’s right. I do. I certainly wouldn’t want anything so studiously bleak on my wall. I don’t like the black and the sneering. I find the aggressive posturing distasteful. But I’m also fully aware that my revulsion is a goodly part of their appeal – and so I deliver the goods, because really? This is a pretty safe and controlled way for a good, reliable, responsible kid to express some needed rebellion. She’d have nothing to rebel against if I didn’t curl my lip just a little.

So curl it I do, because, well, ICK. “I didn’t say I’d like the poster. I don’t even know I’d like the rest of their music. Just that this one song is fun. But it’s your room. You want to have bleak depressing skinny guys in black on your wall, go right ahead. But put them on this wall, okay, so I don’t have to see them from the hall.”

Emma giggles, triumphant in her wildness, pleased to have received permission. “Prissy’s mom? She would NEVER let her have that poster in her room! And she would completely HATE that song.”

“You don’t know that for sure. After all, you’re surprised I like it.”

“No, really, mom! Prissy’s mom won’t let her say ‘butt’. She has to say ‘bottom’.”

“I guess ‘living shit’ wouldn’t pass the vulgarity filter, then.”

“I guess not.”

Seems I’m just conservative enough to give her something to kick against, make her feel a little wild and defiant of conventions, but I’m also cool enough to not be a total embarrassment. This is no easy tightrope to walk.

Another parenting hurdle successfuly breached.

Heh. Teenagers. 🙂

They said all teenagers scare the living shit out of me –
they could care less as long as someone’ll bleed.
So darken your clothes
or strike a violent pose;
maybe they’ll leave you alone –
but not me!

September 10, 2007 Posted by | aggression, music, my kids | 12 Comments