This article is brought to you by Snarklets, Bracelets & Gifts Hand Stamped with Mantras for Real Life.
I am a modern parent, and because I am, I limit my kid’s screen time. I do it because studies have shown that limiting your children’s screen time has a number of benefits on a child’s cognitive abilities, social skills and creates lower levels of couch potato-ness. I also do it because my wife says that I have to.
Like many people, I’ve always used the television as background noise. Unless it’s a sporting event that I’m particularly interested in or one of the few shows that requires my relatively undivided attention, I’m usually doing something else while the television blares on in the background. So when my wife informed me that we would be limiting my children’s screen time, it was her way of telling me that we would also be limiting our own. So now, more often than not, we have music playing while the kids are awake.
Music is special. Developing our own taste in music is a rite of passage. In our youth, we use music as a way of defining ourselves. Our taste in music helps us to create our own sense of style (in my case, a truly badass set of frosted tips.) It helps us to bond with our friends. It helps us to navigate the trials and tribulations of adolescence. Music reaches our emotions and often helps us make sense of the world around us.
Before we develop our own tastes in music, we rely on our parents’ taste in music. It’s their music that creates the soundtrack for our childhood. Their favorite songs, innocuously playing in the background of our youth, leave a musical imprint on our souls.
To this day, Jay and the Americans’ “Come a Little Bit Closer” playing on my Amazon Echo takes me back to being six years old in the front of my father’s yellow Ford Bronco. It’s memories of fishing and trips to Boy Scout camp. It’s long walks in the woods and the smell of sassafras. It’s steaks on a rusty grill and morning cinnamon rolls at a small country restaurant.
The Beach Boys “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” evokes memories of driving to my grandmother’s house with my mom after kindergarten. I can taste the sour cream & onion chips and fruit punch from the small convenience store we’d stop at on the way. It’s the smell of cookies baking and homemade pizza before movie night. It’s patiently waiting for her to use her hot glue gun to fix my broken action figures. It’s warm hugs and laughter.
As the holidays approach, Alabama’s Christmas album becomes my go to holiday music selection. I close my eyes, and it’s Christmas Eve. I’m 10 years old in the back seat of my parent’s car on the way home from my grandparent’s house. Everything is closed, and the roads are empty. It’s started to snow. I’m exhausted but too excited by my new toy acquisitions to fall asleep. My mom points out the various decorations the city has put up. We count the stars on the lampposts as we drive by. The excitement gives way, and before the car’s cassette player flips to the B-side, I’m fast asleep.
Digital streaming services make it pretty easy to create playlists catered to our children. Modern children’s music has actually come a pretty long way. Who doesn’t love to rock out to a little “Baby Shark, Do, Do, Do, Do, Do”? Who among us has not busted out own rendition of “You’re Welcome” from the Moana soundtrack? The problem is, that for the most part, our children won’t randomly hear those songs later in their lives and evoke the memories of their childhood.
Instead, I hope they hear Green Day’s “Time of your Life” on the radio and remember their father stroking their hair while they fall asleep. They’ll pull up a Frank Sinatra playlist and be able to smell their dad’s coffee brewing while he makes them breakfast. I hope they’ll hear a song in church and remember sitting on the bed listening to their mom practicing a piece for the choir. I hope when they grow up Weezer’s cover of “Rainbow Connection” brings the same comfort it did when we sang it to them after they had woken up from a particularly scary dream. When it’s all said and done, I hope we give them a childhood full of wonderful memories and a soundtrack to match.
Plus, do you know just how absolutely hysterical it is to hear a three year old belt out the lyrics to “Fat Bottomed Girls” at the top of their lungs?
This article was brought to you by Snarklets, Bracelets & Gifts Hand Stamped with Mantras for Real Life.