August 13, 2009

The Return of Crazy Slingshot Man

Last week I mentioned Mia's deep and abiding love of musicals. Her life is, actually, a musical. She sings. Constantly. Even while she pees. Her devotion to music is impressive. Her latest love is Grease. This would be awesome if it weren't for the fact that several parts of Grease are vastly inappropriate for a four year old. Beauty School Dropout, for instance, with it's references to hookers or Look At Me I'm Sandra Dee featuring Elvis' pelvis or even Greased Lightnin, the pussy wagon. Awesome. Pussy wagon. That's sure to become an instant Mia classic. I'll just tell her its a car for cats. I much preferred her previous obsession with The Sound of Music, as much as I loathed certain songs (Edleweiss makes me want to punch midgets and that whole Sixteen Going On Seventeen song could only be worse if it was performed by tone-deaf Celine Dion impersonating transvestites). But I can't control everything my kid hears, sees or likes, as much as I'd like to. That's a position I'm trying to resign myself to. Society isn't, however, helping.

Like when we were watching How It's Made the other day because Mia was curious how music boxes and canoes were constructed. Right in the middle of the show - which was pre-recorded and viewed using On-Demand - there was an ad for some insanely brutal looking show called Whale Wars which featured a dismembered whale hanging off the side of a ship. Luckily, Mia didn't notice. I know, four year olds aren't exactly the Science Channel's target demographic so I'll let them off the hook. But Animal Planet? Shame on you. Right in the middle of a nice, happy show about fluffy little dogs that was clearly geared for kids was an ad for some insanely dark looking show about monkeys and I watched this ad in horror as my TV screen was splashed with blood, so astounded that the only thing I could think of doing to distract the kids was to spontaneously fall down. Which I did. And it kinda worked.

Don't get me wrong. I'm totally not about censoring television - or anything, for that matter - just applying some common sense. Not slippery-slope common sense like yeah, that McCarthy guy might be onto something so let's just let him interview some people in front of Congress but, you know, normal common sense that would prevent my television from being drenched in blood in the middle of a show obviously targeted towards a children's demographic. The problem I'm beginning to sense, though, is that such common sense doesn't exist.

Case in point: You can imagine how impressed and happy I was when I heard Mia utter the words Hannah Montana for the first time a few weeks ago. In her defense, she heard the name somewhere and I doubt she could put a name to a face. But, thanks to a recent performance, we can all safely put an ass to a face. (That didn't sound right but follow me here.) Yes, Hannah's real-life alter ego Miley Cyrus performed at the Teen Choice awards. Wearing booty-shorts. On a stripper pole. And might I remind you she's 16. Now that's some fucking awesome parenting. And unfortunately the rest of us parents get to suffer from the mistakes of Mr. Achy Breakey Heart.

I have promised Beth that I won't be an uptight father. She apparently doesn't quite believe me. She won't let me buy a shotgun and practice target shooting on silhouettes of the teenage boys that might, someday, try to pick up my daughter. So I'm going to buy a slingshot, practice night and day and become a goddamn good shot. I will be legendary.

Guy 1: So, I think I'll ask Mia out.
Guy 2: Oh, yeah, she's cute. Just watch out for her dad.
Guy 1: What do you mean?
Guy 2: You haven't heard?
Guy 1: No.
Guy 2: He's that crazy asshole with a slingshot. Takes shots at every guy who sets foot in his yard.
Guy 1: Oh, that guy. How do you know so much?
Guy 2: How do you think I lost my left nut?
Guy 1: Oh, uh, yeah. I heard about that. But doesn't he know that he can't protect her forever and, at the same time is shielding her from valuable social experiences every child must go through?
Guy 2: Probably. But he's a hell of a shot.
Guy 1: Yeah.
Guy 2: I miss my nut.

Posted by Chris at August 13, 2009 6:57 AM

I hear you on musical fatigue. My daughters have long conversations over which is better - "Mary Poppins" or "The Sound of Music," and sometimes they play games in which the characters from both movies are combined into one game. My least favorite song from either movie - "I Have Confidence" from TSOM. I introduced "Annie" on Tuesday - hoping to diversify a bit. Was thinking "Grease" might be next... I guess it's all better than Hannah Montana, no?

Posted by: Gayle at August 13, 2009 8:09 AM

I won't let Eddie (my husband) by a shotgun either, so his plan is to make guys put down a deposit when they come to pick up Charlotte. It will only be returned when she is returned just as she left and on time. Sometimes he's really smart ;)!

Posted by: Elizabeth at August 13, 2009 8:10 AM

Good for you!
You know one of my favorite Bill Engvall routine goes like this:
"Son, that's my little girl you're taking out tonight. She is the love of my life. So if you're thinking about hugging her and kissing her, I want you to remember one thing...I don't have a problem going back to prison!"

Posted by: Maribeth at August 13, 2009 8:12 AM

Has Mia already been through the "Annie" phase? That's a good one, though it has to be the Aileen Quinn/Carol Burnett version - no remakes. (And maybe not the best phase for parents, as some of those songs can really grate on your nerves after awhile.)

Re: Miley - That girl gives me the creeps! It might be the teeth. What are her parents thinking? Not going to be surprised if she has a Britney-style breakdown in a few years.

You're going to be like the dad in 10 Things I Hate About You!

Posted by: erin at August 13, 2009 8:24 AM

I like your plan. Also, what about the right nut? He always get left out. Seems like when reference a single nut, it's always the left. As in your "conversation" or "Suck my left nut." daughter is into Hannah Montana and it kills me. I try to keep it off the TV but it's a whole other world at her dads house.

Posted by: js at August 13, 2009 8:32 AM

My 3-year-old came home from daycare one day talking about Hannah Montana. I promptly put a kebosh on any ideas she had about watching her. Now when she hears that name, she says "I'm not old enough for Hannah Montana. When I grow up, I can watch it."

Posted by: kate at August 13, 2009 8:52 AM

Ok, the pussy wagon being a car for cats is perfect. Love that.

I feel ya on the commercials thing. We don't watch much that has commercials but when we do I either mute it or pause it for a couple of minutes. If you run a DVR on your computer, there is software that will pull out all of the commercials.... if we could just integrate that into our regular Tivo and company-provided-DVRs, it'd be perfect.

Posted by: Brad at August 13, 2009 9:38 AM

As Erin did, I was picturing you as the role of the father in 10 Things I Hate About You.

Can you try to steer her in certain directions or does she just randomly come across music and fixate on it?

Posted by: MariaV at August 13, 2009 9:48 AM

The commercials that kill me through the time you are cooking dinner for the family are the "Feminine products!" Next they will be showing us all how to use them!

When I was a kid we didn't have commercials like what we are seeing now, and we didn't miss a thing! It is hard when celeb parents aren't doing their jobs, come on, did you see the interview where Miley has her own WING of the house, she doesn't even interact with her parents!!! That was at 15!!!! I didn't see the teen awards...but with that back lash from those magazine photo shoot last year I am surprised they made such a huge mistake...

Just keep the kids away from the box! LOL Reading is much better! And if if makes you feel any better when I was a kid I was the same way, but MY family took me to see HAIR!!! Yup I think I was 6, and singing that entire musical ALL the time...good thing I had no clue!

Posted by: Gypsy at August 13, 2009 9:51 AM

I was highly annoyed when we took Bridget to see a rated G movie (the latest Disney Earth movie) and while we were sitting their munching popcorn and drinking contraband smuggled-in juice boxes, there were HIGHLY inappropriate ads for shows on Cartoon Network. I don't care that that stuff is out there, and yes, one day she will watch it and it'll be fine. But when you are doing what you can reasonably do to protect a toddler from seeing certain things, it's really frustrating. If the movie is rated G, you have to assume that previews and commercials should also be for similar rated movies and shows.

Posted by: donna at August 13, 2009 9:51 AM

Hee, a slingshot! I would pay to see that. I don't have kids, but quite frankly I'm tired of seeing gore on my TV. FWIW, I'm fully against censorship, and when I'm watching a certain type of show I've sort of learned to expect graphic ads, but I hate when you're not expecting it and you have to dive for the remote. Or spontaneously fall down. I wonder if I could distract myself that way...

Posted by: Fraulein N at August 13, 2009 9:53 AM

You should write them a scathing letter. I bet you'd be good at it ;)

Posted by: Heather at August 13, 2009 11:39 AM

Just will come up with something better than a slingshot, the Bill Engval statement comes to mind, but I'm sure you'll be much more creative...after all just read your blog, you are very creative!

Posted by: Krush at August 13, 2009 11:39 AM

The first time I saw Grease, I was probably 7 or 8 years old and I LOVED it. I saw it put on by a high school, then I watched the movie. I knew all the words to all the songs... but, I can affirmatively tell you, I had NO CLUE about so much of what was actually going on in that movie until I watched it again in middle or high school. Hopefully it's all going right over Mia's head right now too.

(I also remember watching Golden Girls with my mom and recently caught a rerun, and oh my god, I can't believe she even let me be in the same room while that was on... and I never had a freaking clue.)

Posted by: stephanie at August 13, 2009 1:42 PM

From a practical standpoint, we get around this issue by pretty much recording everything to DVR, and then watching it later. The kids have gotten so used to it that when we are watching live TV and the commercials come on, they all start calling for "Fast Forward!".

Posted by: metawizard at August 13, 2009 1:47 PM

I, too, had no clue about some of the things they were saying in Grease until late high school, when someone shattered by world with how dirty it is.

ABC Family plays a really heavily edited version that takes all that out, if you can catch it on DVR. Then you'd just have to watch out for the evil commercials. (Also, I find it sadly humorous that ABC Family butchers the hell outta Grease but has a TV show with a pregnant teen and a sister trying to bone her stepbrother and what not. Kudos, ABC Family.)

I think you'll be fine. I mean, sure, you're going to be a protective dad, but I think as Mia grows, you'll grow with her as a father. Right now she's four, and she needs you to be a little uptight about some things. Like blood drenched TVs. I have faith that you're going to be able to tread the line between over-protection and whatever-the-hell-made-Miley-Cirus.

Posted by: caleal at August 13, 2009 1:58 PM

and has anyone noticed the McDonalds sponge bob happy meal commercials , with like 12 girls shaking booty to I love big buts song ? really ? like whats the prize in these happy meals , a condom ?

Posted by: michelle juhase at August 13, 2009 2:07 PM

My friend has 5 daughters under the age of 13. He said he begun digging a moat.

Posted by: Jon (was) in Michigan at August 13, 2009 3:16 PM

Oh, Grease. It was the preferred movie at my extremely conservative Southern Baptist Church youth lock-ins. Even as a 15 year old - I didn't get it. It was just a few years ago that I watched that movie and then wondered WTF were people thinking? ALLOWING US TO WATCH THAT MOVIE? AT CHURCH? Mia will be fine.

My dad collects historical weaponry. My first date, he invited poor Mike into his study and showed him his collection (not fit to fire) and explained that there were few things he loved more in life than that collection. Save for his wife and daughter. I had a midnight curfew. Mike brought me home at 9. He never spoke to me again, and I heard rumors at school from the guys about my crazy dad.

So I started dating college guys . . . .

Posted by: Mindy at August 13, 2009 4:06 PM

My friend's daughter is totally into Hannah Montana. I helped redecorate her room and she wanted a Hannah Montana theme.

Luckily I was able to do things like put guitars on the ceiling, print CD labels of the daughter as a rock star to use as decoration, etc. The only concession was a record-shaped HM pillow and two framed collages of pics of HM from Teen Beat magazine (yes it still exists).

Hopefully the rest of the hot pink, black & white and zebra theme will last longer than the HM obsession.

Posted by: Heather at August 13, 2009 5:20 PM

Trus Story: When I was little, I LOVED Grease and I would spontaneously burst into song in all sorts of inappropriate places like the crosstown bus. My favorite song (of course) was Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee. Only, I was like, 4 (or thereabouts) and did not know what *virginity* was and I used to sing the line as: "Lousy with Virginia tea." Seriously. And I'm not sure I knew what *Virginia tea* was either. But I knew Virginia. And tea. So it worked.

Posted by: Country Girl at August 13, 2009 5:39 PM

True Story: When I was little, I LOVED Grease and I would spontaneously burst into song in all sorts of inappropriate places like the crosstown bus. My favorite song (of course) was Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee. Only, I was like, 4 (or thereabouts) and did not know what *virginity* was and I used to sing the line as: "Lousy with Virginia tea." Seriously. And I'm not sure I knew what *Virginia tea* was either. But I knew Virginia. And tea. So it worked.

Posted by: Country Girl at August 13, 2009 5:39 PM

seriously, whose parents give their underage daughter a standing ovation after just letting her shake her (did i mention underage?) thang on a fake stripper pole?! i am baffled and disgusted. ok, i'm done :)

Posted by: kati at August 13, 2009 7:49 PM

As someone with 4 older sisters, I watched Grease at a ridiculously young age, and I swear I was a senior in high school when the remix came out and I finally realized that the words 'pussy wagon' were in the song and what they meant. Really! No awkward explanations will be necessary.

Posted by: Karen at August 15, 2009 9:34 AM

Awesome!! Thanks for making me nose my coffee this am and Yes we live in a musical as well. We're a very operatic family around here. ;) My husband's favorite line from the movie "Clueless" is, "I have a shovel and a 45, I doubt anyone would miss you." He plans to use it when the boys start showing up for our daughters. In the meantime, we're constructing a rather large tower in the backyard and I'm learning how to homeschool : )

Posted by: marylea (aka Pink and Green Mama) at August 16, 2009 9:27 AM