Today, my eldest figured out how to get "free" ringtones on his cell phone. Damn. I had hoped to avoid that awhile longer. What's my objection? It's the relentless acquiring of things that really bothers me. Plus, I don't trust that free part. I am waiting for my next cell phone bill to allay or confirm my suspicions.
Anyway, he got some pop song du jour for a ring tone. Today's pop music irritates the hell out of me, for the most part. But I remember being a teenager, and wishing desperately that my parents understood just how incredible my favorite songs were, wished they could appreciate the intensity, the passion, the phenomenal talent of artists like The Cars, Tom Petty, and Billy Joel. (For the record, and to hold on to some shred of respectability, I have always been first and foremost a Beatles fan. No band or singer has ever toppled them.)
I have one vivid memory of listening to a Tom Petty record with my friend Kathy. My dad walked through the room and made some noise of utter disgust, rolling his eyes dramatically. "Dad! I swear! This is good music! Just give it a chance! It's not depraved junk!" I begged, with a fervor unique to teenagers. He grabbed the record jacket and read the first lyric line his eye fell upon: "Baby don't walk out, I'm too drunk to follow." He tossed the jacket on the floor and walked out smugly, disgust intact.
I mostly do the same to my own kids regarding their taste in music, but I'm trying to be more open. I'm trying, at the very least, to encourage their love of music, familiar as I am with the earnestness of youth, and with feeling like the music I listened to was the most powerful, incredible, amazing, honest, emotion-filled artistic expression ever to fill a set of speakers . So today, when I heard Sam's phone ring, instead of making it clear that what I really wanted to do was rip off my ears, I did some goofy little dance as I walked through the room, trying to indicate that I was not condemning his choice of ring tone. All I got for my troubles?
"Nothing bugs me more than dancing 42 year old."
Forget it then. I think that comment gives me license to show my disgust early and often.
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Back down at the other end of the age range, my littlest has had a rough week, including a bad tummy, which has had her shooting noxious substances out of both ends. It's been rough. One such bout had her hiding in her room, attempting to clean her underwear and her own bottom with several baby wipes, a pajama top, and a very large bath towel. When none of these methods did the trick, she decided to stuff the entire lot underneath her bed, leaving quite a trail along her floor as she did so. She, and her room, were an unholy mess.
I will gloss over the part where she was sobbing mightily, two and three big fat tears coming out of both of eyes simultaneously, begging me not to be mad at her. (See why we need a therapy fund?) I will skip ahead to the part 24 hours later, after we had been through several pairs of underwear and this mama was weary from the mess, the stench, the endless cleaning, and the small but toxic loads of laundry.
This is the part where I realized that after five kids, we may have gotten a little lax in some areas. You know how it is: with your first, and maybe your second, you are scrupulous about teaching them how to do every little thing, making sure they get the proper instructions time and time again, worrying that they will miss something and grow up lacking critical information to get by in the world. As the kids get more numerous, you take a little less care, and forget to remind them multiple times about elbows on table tops, nightly teeth brushing, and proper telephone etiquette. Add another kid or two, and the youngest is lucky to have a sippy cup at all, let alone one that hasn't been underneath a bed for three months. The youngest has to raise herself, in many ways. The fact that this may be the greatest gift any child could receive is a subject for another day. Suffice to say, every now and then, I realize some new way I have failed my youngest.
After the brazillionth time of cleaning her bottom today, I wearily remarked: "We really need to get you pooping in the potty."
She looked at me with 2 parts unbelief and 1 part pleading, and said: "You mean, every time?"
Um, yes. Yes dear, I do mean every time. I'm sorry I haven't made this clear before now.
One more time to the drawing board for me!
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