Girlfriends, Ladybusiness, My Kids, Myself, Social Life, Uncategorized
Leave a comment

Who Owns What?

*I wrote this in the late fall.  I didn’t post it because I felt like it rambled.  Some of my friends, particularly lady friends, felt like I should post it anyway.  So here it is.  There have been a few incidents in recent months in my community involving our teenage children getting into serious trouble, both physical and legal, that have only served to strengthen the beliefs I share in this post regarding a lack of thoughtful parenting, and that makes me sad.

I love Jimmy Fallon, almost to the point of obsession.  One of my favorite things that Jimmy Fallon does on his show is with his band, The Roots, who are just super awesome sans Jimmy Fallon as everyone knows, but together they do these bits where a popular musician comes in and they sing a song with Jimmy Fallon and The Roots and they play the song on things like common classroom instruments, or with office supplies.  Longest sentence ever!  Anyway, recently they did one with Miley Cyrus in which they perform her HUGE hit, “We Can’t Stop” a capella.  Watch it here; it is awesome.  There is just no denying that Miley Cyrus has a beautiful voice and a lot of talent.

When I really like stuff I make Allen watch it too, whether he’s interested or not.  So I played this for him a few days ago when I came back from my morning walk, which is where I indulge my Jimmy Fallon habit.  He liked it, too.  Of course I’d seen the actual music video on YouTube months ago in order to learn about twerking.  On this, Miley seems to be the most high-profile authority.  Those of you in my Facebook circle may recall my dismay at that time.  And then there was the whole VMA controversy, which as pretty much the entire world pointed out, only served to propel Miss Cyrus to even greater heights of stardom.  I digress…I remember watching the video initially and just generally feeling uncomfortable, but thinking it was a good song.  Then I forgot about it until the Jimmy Fallon piece.  So I listened to it a few times and it’s super catchy and if I were a twerk-happy 17 year-old you can bet your sweet, twerking ass that this would be my anthem.  Instead, I’m a 36 year-old mother of two daughters.  And this song almost brings me to tears.  Weird, right?

Later that morning Allen asked me if I was a Miley Cyrus fan.  The truth is that I guess maybe I am…she has that big old voice and she is doing some cool things with it.  I don’t know a lot of Miley Cyrus songs, but I like her cover of Bob Dylan’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go”.  Watch it here.  But why do I feel sad when I listen to her? Eden has played me a few songs off of her latest album and they all seem so dark.  I had to think about that one.

Eden was a Hannah Montana fan when she (and Miley) were younger.  Apparently it’s not super cool to be a Miley Cyrus fan in Eden’s circle, but she totally owns it, and will still watch Hannah Montana on occasion if she happens upon it. She is a sucker for tween slapstick.  I’ve asked her what she thinks about Miley now, and the controversy that has surrounded her the last year or so.  Eden told me she thinks that Miley Cyrus is awesome and that her outrageous performances are meant to distance herself from her former child star persona.  I think that’s totally true.  And then she’s told me that she thinks that Miley Cyrus is a pretty good role model because she parties but she stays out of trouble and the ultimate evidence of this is that she has never been arrested for a DUI and never gone to rehab “like so many other young stars”.

That is my 16 year-old’s test for role model-ship.  Rehab.

Here are a couple of lyrics in “We Can’t Stop”:

So la da di da di
We like to party
Dancing with Molly*
Doing whatever we want
This is our house
This is our rules

And then…

To my home girls here with the big butt
Shaking it like we at a strip club
Remember only God can judge ya
Forget the haters ’cause somebody loves ya
And everyone in line in the bathroom
Trying to get a line in the bathroom
We all so turned up here
Getting turned up, yeah, yeah

Let’s recap…
Basically these kids (who own the night. the very night! they own it, bitches!) Want to do some ecstasy and coke and dance naked and not get fucked with by anyone who might try to impose rules or impart wisdom.

Part of me says, “so what?  This makes them different from NO OTHER GENERATION of young adults ever.”  Are things really that different?  My parents’ generation was the generation of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll.  To be honest, that generation’s children, myself included, took that ball and ran with it.  So what’s the big deal?  This is the way of the world.  Kids have been wanting to screw each other and get wasted for all of history, as far as I know.  Why do I have a problem with something that is a part of the human condition?

I told Allen that when I thought about it, it made me sad because I felt like at age 20, Miley Cyrus just shouldn’t be so…debauched.  Nobody that age should.  Give it another 5 years.  What’s the rush to try everything at such a tender age?  Can’t these kids just smoke some weed and drink some booze for a few years before they are naked and snorting lines off each other?  Maybe it will piss some people off that I’m not here just outright crusading against kids drinking and doing drugs.  Don’t get me wrong…I wish they didn’t, EVER.  But I’d also like to keep my head out of my ass and live in the real world.  Not some Leave It To Beaver bubble.  Kids gonna get fucked up.  I did.

And I guess that is at the heart of what makes me sad.  When I was a teenager and trying everything and doing stuff that was bad for my body and bad for my mind, it was because I didn’t want to be in my mind (and sometimes even my body) in the first place.  My right mind was an intensely painful place to be and I would have done anything anybody suggested to get out of it for as long as possible.

If we’re friends, you probably know my story and you know that my childhood and teen years weren’t normal.  They were fucked up in a lot of ways and that’s why I did all of the stuff that I did, way too young and way too much.  And so I told Allen I’d like to give Miley Cyrus a hug.  Because while she may have fame and beauty and money, she didn’t have a “normal” childhood either.  And after listening to her lovely voice sing several of her recent songs, it seems to me that she might be in some pain, too.  The kind that is old pain and makes you not want to be in your right mind.

Is that all that is bothering me though?  I think (extrapolating a little bit) that maybe Miley Cyrus and her entitled, party-your-ass-off message are symbolic of what’s really going on with kids today as a culture.  I’m not going to tell any secrets, but I know what Eden’s friends are up to and it’s not that far off from the actual YouTube video of “We Can’t Stop”.  Does that mean that we have a generation of unhappy youth just trying to party away the troubles of growing up in 2014?

Allen and I were on a date night last week at one of our favorite date night bars.  The bartender had the television over the bar tuned to a show that I think was called, “Dance Moms”.  If you know this show and I’m wrong about that title then I apologize, but don’t bother correcting me because I hope to never see it again.  Anyway, the show was about moms pushing their kids in the competitive world of dance and you should have seen both the behavior of the participants and the appearances of the children.  The were so made up.  Like showgirls.  (I think it may have actually been in Las Vegas.)  All these kids caked in makeup and shellacked and sparkly and God knows what.  And I know it’s not the only show out there with that kind of nonsense.  There’s “Toddlers and Tiaras” and “My Super Sweet Sixteen”.  Shows that actually show examples of parents sexualizing their children and exposing them to things better left in the adult realm.  It’s a problem that starts at the top.

Last weekend was homecoming weekend.  In case you didn’t know, Homecoming is the new Prom.  It is just fall Prom and the dress length is cocktail, rather than formal.  You’re still gonna drop hundreds of bucks on it if you have a daughter.  And the kids don’t even go to the dance.  Eden had to change homecoming groups because I refused to pay $52 for her to ride in the Hummer limo that her group had booked.  We’d already done the dress and the shoes and the accessories and the armband for her date and there would be the dinner expense, as well.  I just thought it was ludicrous that on top of all of that I should shell out another fifty on a stupid Hummer limo.  I guess a lot of parents think that’s cool, and then alternately wonder why their kids turn out to be entitled shits.  (“We don’t know what went wrong!  We gave them everything!”)  I want my kid to know she actually is not a rock star.  It’s why I never did the whole princess thing with her.  Is she a princess?  Not unless there is something I don’t know about my family.  She is smart and funny and totally unique and I love her more than our expanding universe, but if she wants a Hummer limo she needs to get a fucking job and earn one.  Ugh.  So they all looked beautiful and they rode on a good old-fashioned party bus and had a fine time without the Hummer.  But guess what was the biggest story of the night?  There was another group from their school eating at the same restaurant that Eden’s group went to and they got so wasted and rowdy that the establishment kicked them out.  And here’s the interesting part:  nobody called any body’s parents.  No one was held accountable.  Nobody got grounded from their car or extracurricular activity or couldn’t see their boyfriend or anything.  And more importantly, nobody got schooled in what is respectful behavior in public and around fellow human beings.  They just got back on their party bus and put another notch on the party bedpost. 

More lyrics:

And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
We run things, things don’t run we
Don’t take nothing from nobody
Yeah, yeah

It has been shown time and again that kids without boundaries are unruly and unhappy.  A kid without limits is a kid who doesn’t feel safe.  And societally, we are raising kids without strong foundations of boundaries and respect.  I think they are unhappy.  I could go on about the examples we set with our uncivil, immature political nightmares or constant vapid consumerism, but we all already know that.  Obviously our children are reflecting our cultural values back to us.  And we have failed.

So I like Miley Cyrus.  I want to give her a hug and tell her, “I’m sorry.  We let you down.”  She could be my daughter.  I’m so glad my daughter is not her.  It’s a constant battle to keep it that way.  It seems like even if you hammer certain messages at home and strive to impart a particular set of values, if your kid walks out of the house, or turns on the TV or uses the internet then they are hosed.

What’s the solution?  I know that’s a lot of talk about things that are wrong.  I don’t have the solution.  Homeschooling?  That’s not an option for everyone.  Is it to “kill your television” as those old bumper stickers encouraged us to do?  Keep your kid from technology?  Find a commune?  Maybe.  Maybe extreme measures are required if you want to avoid the cheap, societal programming that’s out there.  The problem with extreme measures to me seems to be that then you become an extremist, and I happen to be a big fan of balance.  When we go too far out of the way for one thing, another thing gets neglected.

I don’t have the solution, but I do know that certain things are bad.  Putting lipstick and glitter and high heels on a ten year-old is bad.  Letting a camera follow your family around is bad.  Eating out all the time and not sitting around your dinner table as a family most nights is bad.  Hummer limos for teenagers are bad.  Making your family a democracy and not a benevolent dictatorship is bad.  Propagating the idea that we are all princesses and rock stars is bad.  Let’s start a conversation with our kids about the reality of partying like a rock star.  Let’s ask John Bonham, Dee Dee Ramone, Chris Farley, River Phoenix, Brittany Murphy, John Belushi, Jimmy Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Michael Hutchence, Whitney Huston or Heath Ledger what it’s like to be one of the kids who are “’bout that life.”

I wish we could, I really do.

Share this: Tweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on FacebookShare on Google+Email this to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>