You know after Jeff's really wonderful comments on the Terrible Two and the Wiggles earlier, I felt seriously stupid. I should be able to defend the subtitle of this here blog with such eloquence and thoughtfullness. I was mad at myself and frankly just felt lame. And it made me think of something that happened several days ago.
My daughter was invited to a party at a place at the mall entitled Glam Girls. Or maybe it's Girlz with a z. Ugh. Anyway, we went, we're pretty good friends with the parents and such. And don't think I didn't know it would be bad. But it was far worse than I had imagined. They initially tried to put her in an outfit that didn't even begin to cover her incredibly petite five year old body, to which she thankfully said, "Um, I can't wear this, my tummy shows" and then she chose a full length goth number. But it was downhill from there. Make-up ("Just sparkles please" I micromanaged), nails, hair-do's that were surely don'ts by anyone's standards and they included FALLS as in FAKE HAIR, lots of it. They paraded them through the mall like this (which is wrong on many levels.) Then they went to a room with a stage and a kareoke machine. The choices were all Disney tunes: Hannah Montana, High School Musical, the Princess Collection, the Duff girl, and so on. My daughter felt weird because she didn't know any of these songs. I felt weird because every other girl did. These were all five year olds. They knew this stuff. And here I point to Eric's comment about the commercialization of it: these CDs, every last one of them, were not put out because of talent or a love of music or anything resembling art. They were put out to sell t-shirts and make-up and fake hair and yes, toothbrushes. I was mad there too, and wanted to take her out of there. But I didn't want to be rude or offend any other parents and I know better than to make a big deal out of not liking something in front of my daughter. It would have hurt her at that point and caused some major backlash, surely.
Now, let me skip and hop over to another disheartening experience I have been having for some time now. One of my for a living jobs is a weekly advice column I write for a girl's website. I get mostly 9-12 year olds writing in with their problems, wishes and dreams. And this week's topic, although it's a constant theme really, revolved around "careers." These nine-year olds that are fed a constant diet of Disney marketing and beyond have one dream. It ain't to be a musician, or to be an actress like it was when I was younger. It's to be "famous." They just want the fame part, the empty part. They don't care about music or art. They'll take whatever gets tossed down their throats and gobble it up and want to be it but "it" isn't a musician or singer. It's just famous. And that is so freaking depressing.
I love what Jeff said about pursuing things made with passion, in all parts of his life, and that has been a constant in the hubby and mine's discourse about parenting. And as a side benefit I believe it diffuses the idol worship a little. That's why we started taking her to see shows when we could, that's why I cried when we saw Barabra Brousal with her guitar, with Dan Zanes and my then two year old daughter stood under her so close she could see up her skirt because Tuesday was so enamored with this real-life person in front of her playing wonderful music. That's why I started this blog, because when I spoke to some of my parent friends they were also looking for something that was real. Not just something, but somethings as in lotsa, as in a smorgasbord of different music that had passion and life and fun and emotion behind it. Played and performed by real musicians who did it because they loved it in a truly accesible way. She loves Pancake Mountain because it's inspiring, she feels like she could make that. And she's tried. She's gotten Dad to film her in crazy skits and she isn't the least bit disapointed when she watched them and their less than perfect. They're real and she's proud.
So, I still feel stupid. Jeff said it all way better than I could. And we still have the fake hair piece, hanging on a hook in her room. And she really liked the Glam Girlz experience unfortunately. But she didn't like the music and asked for one of her CDs in the car on the way home and I'm grateful for that much. She'll have to make her own way, but at least we're offering up options.
I'll try and put some music up later tonight. Thanks for listening to me rant on and on.