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


  1. I looked them up on iTunes, but I can’t find the song – do you know the album?

    I think I’m going to have to have a listen as the names of the song are so fine. I think my favourite is ‘You put the B*tch in Habitual” It could be that iTunes Bowdlerized it with the *

    Comment by z | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  2. That is not an easy tightrope to walk but if anyone can do it, it’s Mary P!

    Comment by LoryKC | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  3. I’ve been offline for a while. Just checking to say hello and that I haven’t forgotten you.

    Comment by ann adams | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  4. My Chemical Romance, right? My son had a short stint of being into them. Now he’s into much more hardcore rock (what we would have called Heavy Metal in our day – but THEY don’t)

    Our daughter, thank God, prefers to listen to our old fogey music. But then, she’s only 12 right now. I’m sure it won’t be long before we’re replacing her SpongeBob posters with dark and dreary ones of boys wearing black. 😛

    Comment by Sheri | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  5. That paragraph? It cracked me up because it’s so true! I don’t think the word “emo” existed when I was a teen, but I don’t think the angst has changed much.

    I don’t think we’ll have too many issues with music in our house, seeing as the hubby loves Sepultura and gangsta rap.

    Comment by Kat | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  6. Right, thanks Sheri. The album is ‘The Black Parade’. No time now, I’ll listen later.

    Comment by z | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  7. Z: I didn’t know the name of the album until you told me in your subsequent comment!

    Lory: Thank you! Emma is quite sure my disapproval has nothing to do with her appreciation of a song. Maybe she’s right. (Or maybe not!)

    Sheri: She’s only 12 AND she’s homeschooled. Unless she goes to school at some point, she will probably never like exclusively “teen” music. One of the many, many nice things about homeschooled teens is that their taste in music is far broader and more eclectic than most kids their age.

    Kat: We don’t have many music issues, because I pretty much let them listen to what they listen to – I object to volume much more than content. We have had lots of discussion about content, but I’ve never expressly forbidden anything. By and large, they have wide and varied enough tastes that I don’t worry about them obsessing over something nasty and destructive. They haven’t shown any interest in the really nasty stuff.

    Comment by MaryP | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  8. One of my favorite recollections of when I first realized I was really the parent of a teenager – walking into my 13-year-old son’s room, stopping for a minute, and then asking him, “What is this CRAP you’re listening to?” I don’t remember the answer at this point, and I’m sure he doesn’t either. But like your kids, MaryP, he’s always had very wide ranging taste in music and never went in for anything truly offensive.

    His hair got quite long this past spring and his girlfriend started calling him “emo boy,” but now, at the advanced age of 23, he’s got no use for that teen-angst stuff these days. On the other hand, his mother actually does have MCR’s “Welcome to the Black Parade” on her iPod. (I haven’t heard “Teenagers” myself.)

    Comment by Florinda | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  9. Oh you’re right, this song is catchy. just looked it up on itunes. 🙂

    Comment by kelli in the mirror | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  10. *waves* I’ve been reading for a few months, and I find it…weird that you’re reviewing one of my favourite MCR songs! =) (For the record, I’m 17)

    I’d disagree with Emma when she calls them emo, but they’re one of the better punk rockish bands out there, and they’re always positive. (The last concert of theirs I went to, Gerard, the lead singer told us that “however alone you feel in the world, there is always someone there for you.”)

    Comment by Ienzo | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  11. Florinda: Well, since I enjoyed this one so well, maybe I’ll listen to more of their stuff, just to see.

    A few years back my son (now 18) was listening to Rammstein. (sp?) V. heavy German rock. It struck me as hysterically funny. No idea why, really, though it could be that the Germans I was closest to were my paternal grandparents, and THEY only really went in for polkas and Johnny Matthis…

    Kelli: Isn’t it great? I’ve had it running through my head All.Day.Long — and I don’t mind! Not one little bit!

    Ienzo: Hello, there, and thanks for commenting. I’m delighted to know I have a 17-year-old reader. Well, it seems that you and I share at least one favourite song. I really do like this song (it’s the only MCR song that I know, as far as I’m aware).

    That positive message you cite certainly doesn’t sound emo, you’re right. (No capital on emo?) And it’s more positive than the lyrics of this song – but as I say, it’s the only MCR song I know.

    Do you have a suggestion of which song of theirs I might listen to next?

    Comment by MaryP | September 10, 2007 | Reply

  12. Hmm, I’d suggest checking out I’m Not Okay off of Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge, which is their second album, and is rather poppy but still pretty good. You might know that one, it was their first mainstream single.

    Comment by Ienzo | September 11, 2007 | Reply

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