Children’s museums, either, but that’s not relevant here because I haven’t been thinking about buying a children’s museum for my boys for Christmas.
I bought books for my niece (Babymouse: Queen of the World) and nephew (The Lightning Thief), but seeing as how we’re swimming in text around here, I thought I might surprise 7-year-old S and 2-year-old F with CDs highlighted on the various kids’ music blogs.
So, I gave a listen to tracks from some of the kids’ CDs rated among the year’s best, and I learned that my long-held predisposition against playing “children’s music” for my children hasn’t softened much.
I’ll be the first to admit that this is weird. When it comes to books and movies, I’m all for exposing my sons to works tailored specifically for younguns. I don’t expect that S and F will be enthralled by the 690-page history title on the desk in front of me, and the same goes for that Noam Chomsky documentary that arrived the other day. (Actually, I’m not sure I myself will be enthralled by that DVD, but at least the odds are better for me.)
But I’ve always assumed that the music I listen to is, by and large, accessible to my kids. Before S was born, I made him a Beatles compilation. The lullabyes I sang to him were heavy on Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker tunes. I vividly remember one car trip when S was not yet 3 and he wanted to hear “When Doves Cry” over and over and over again. And just this morning — early this morning — F asked to listen to Bruce Springsteen’s version of “John Henry,” the beloved folk song about a laborer who dies of a heart attack.
Young listeners may not get all that non-kids’ music has to offer — this is true for us adults as well — but they can still enjoy it even though it doesn’t cater to the tastes that they’re supposed to have. They can also reject outright what doesn’t appeal to them (believe me) and veer away from that when they start to seek out music on their own, and I think that’s useful background for them.
All that said, I do appreciate that fact that some musical artists — like some, say, authors — choose to express themselves in a format that appeals to young people. And I like the fact that there are sites like Zooglobble, The Lovely Mrs. Davis Tells You What to Think, and Children’s Music That Rocks helping families find what sounds good to them. And finally, I like pushing myself in directions I’m not quite comfortable with, so I imagine I’ll be spending more time on those sites trying to get past my kids’-music hangup.
For this year, though, if I’m buying my kids anything, it’s most likely going to be this — partly children’s music, mostly not, and with a proven winner in the form of track 10.