Earlier today, I made a quick trip to Walmart to pick up a few things we needed around the house. The store was reasonably busy for pre-Christmas Saturday, and most people seemed to be in a festive, pleasant mood — from the Salvation Army bell ringer to the handful of guys ogling the flat-screen entertainment nirvana at the back of the store.
After finding each of the items on my short list, I chose the shortest line and queued up behind what appeared to be a grandmother, mother and her elementary age son. The family could have been any of the rural, small town families of the area. The mother had the haggard look of someone who had spent all day with an energetic child. And the boy was clearly not going to wind down any time soon. He jumped around, hands attached to the end and sides of the cart that awaited his family’s checked items. He was making an enormous amount of noise, but his chaos seemed unnoticed by his mother or grandmother. Seems they had become immune.
I started to pay closer attention to the boy’s words. He was singing what sounded rhythmically like hip-hop, and I soon deciphered the words as “Bow, wow, wow, that’s what my baby says.” I will admit surprise and disgust that a young boy (or anyone for that matter) would be singing words that had such a disrespectful tone to them. My mind immediately assumed he had heard these lyrics in one of the mysoginistic songs that litter pop radio stations too frequently.
Walking out of the store, I began to wonder if we shouldn’t start issuing licenses for procreation. What kind of parents would let their child listen to — and repeat — such drivel? Seated in the front seat of my truck, I pulled out my iPhone to post something scathing about this boy and his family.
But first, I checked YouTube to find the song he was signing. Turns out, it’s not from plethora of interchangeable pablum that passes for hip-hop today. It’s from a Playhouse Disney “tween” show called Phinneas and Ferb, a show that is often promoted in commercial shorts between shows aimed at toddlers and early elementary students.
Perhaps I’m being a little too sensitive on this issue, and I’m just blissfully unaware of what passes as entertainment for pre-teens and teenagers now. But I can’t help but feel that we as parents need to take a stand to help our kids decipher the message that is being fed to them.
If we want to raise our sons and daughters with a healthy respect for their friends, their future partners, and the men and women whose lives they touch, we can’t become immune to the messages they receive.
We have let them hear, “No, no, no, that’s not what your baby says.”