Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No Singing in the Kitchen…and Other Teenage Rules

I have a message for the military, for the House of Representatives, for the Senate, for the Supreme Court, and yes, even for The President of the United States.  If you want to get valuable information out of possible terror suspects, there’s no need to put them through sleep deprivation, starvation, water boarding, or hard labor.

All you need to do is lock them in a car with a two year old in the back seat, stuff said car between thousands of other cars on the Long Island Expressway and play Barney’s Greatest Hits over and over and over and over so that said toddler does not throw a temper tantrum while mommy and daddy are desperately cursing their decision not to take the Northern State.  Trust me, after the 3,000th verse of “I Love You, You Love Me, We’re a Happy Family” said terror suspect will not only talk….he’ll dive to the bottom of the ocean and dig up Bin Laden’s body just so the US can kill him again, anything to get out of that car!!

Yes, the above scenario is not a scene straight out of the next Hollywood Blockbuster.  Horribly, it is a true story.   Said toddler happens to be my now 14-year old Melissa.  And let me reassure all of the parents of the current Barney generation….they do grow out of it!  

Melissa’s musical taste has certainly improved since her toddler years.  When Barney became old hat, my daughter entered into a long-term relationship with Disney.  We sang along with The Little Mermaid as she traded her fins for feet, danced along with Belle and the Beast, and marveled in wonder on a magic carpet ride with Jasmine and Aladdin. 

Eventually, the Disney Princess phase gave way to the Hilary Duff phase, then the Hannah Montana phase, then the High School Musical phase.  Fortunately, my husband Bob and I intervened and exposed her to classic music!  No, I’m not talking about Beethoven or Bach, I’m talking The Beatles.   Today she has a full appreciation of the world’s greatest band, and even joined us last summer when Sir Paul played the Wells Fargo Center in Philly. 

However, despite her parent’s influence, peer pressure is stronger.  Yes, the Beatles still rock, but she has added a number of new groups to her repertoire of favorites, including The Script, The Fray, Bruno Mars, and Maroon Five.  (Please don’t ask me how we escaped a Bieber obsession – with Melissa it never took hold.)  She likes being in the passenger seat while I am driving, since I give her full reign over the radio.  Each time a song comes on that she likes, she quizzes me, “Mom, who does this song?”  Much to her frustration, I always get the answer wrong.

I tell her all of her songs sound the same, and she counters with the same argument.  (Although I have to admit she has a point, after all, Billy Joel and Elton John do have a similar style.)  However, sometimes we’ll stumble on a song, either her favorite or mine, that we both like, and we’ll sing together in the car for a brief three minutes of blissful harmony.  Little did I know the car would be the only place I would have permission to dare sing what we have dubbed, “Melissa songs”.

A few weeks ago I dutifully rolled up my shirt sleeves, walked over to the kitchen sink and began the nightly routine of washing dishes.  I had recently heard a catchy tune by The Script, and the song, still stuck in my head, escaped through my lips and I (egads!) started to sing as I scrubbed, making the daily task more tolerable.

“Mom, stop singing that song!” Melissa demanded.

“Why can’t I sing, we’re in the house, there’s no one around, there’s no need for you to be embarrassed,” I asked in bewilderment.

“Because it’s one of my songs,” she explained.

So, based on her teenage logic, I have permission to sing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” while doing the dishes, but “Moves Like Jagger” would definitely be off the table.  Sigh.

Here I imagined the kitchen to be a world without the restrictive commandments placed on my head when I dare venture into the outdoor world with my offspring.   These include:

1. There shall be no singing in public. 
2. There shall be no dancing in public. 
3. There shall be no hugging or kissing said offspring in public. 
4. There shall be no laughing in public. 
5. There shall be no smiling in public. 
6. There shall be no wearing of ugly red sweat pants in public
7. There shall especially be no accompanying said offspring at the bus stop, because, yes, you guessed it, that’s “public”.

What Melissa does not realize is that her goody two shoes mother who never broke the rules as a kid, has now become a rebel.  The more commandments that are established, the more I want to break them.  Why?  Because it is so much fun to embarrass her. 

But I’d better break the rules with caution, because I’ve heard that punishment involves being locked in the car with a toddler listening to “I Love You…You Love Me….. We're a Happy...............NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


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  2. What have I done to my kids !!!!!!!!! I used to sing "I Love You, You Love me... all the time to my kids. Like a broken record. I like some of my teenagers's favorite songs, but most songs sound the same to me too.
    Love this blog.