Saturday, June 9, 2012

Zoobie Zoobie Zoobie

I recently read a news article saying that Sesame Street songs were being used on detainees at Guantamo Bay, Cuba.  I'm not kidding.  Apparently blasting Ernie's ode to his rubber duckie is more effective at wearing down suspected terrorists than other established forms of torture, such as waterboarding or the waiting room at the DMV.  Of course, news of musical torture is making some people furious.  The music industry has demanded that the government stop weaponizing their jingles.  Human rights groups are protesting, while parents of young children are saying, "Is that the best you've got?  You should spend a week at our place."

Kyle loves Sesame Street.  He watches it every day.  More specifically, he watches the SAME EPISODE every day, thanks to the power of Netflix instant (and the dim-witted dad who introduced him to it).  He does this for weeks at a time, then moves on to another episode and watches that one over and over again.  I can't tell you how many times I've seen Elmo, Zoe, and Telly nearly fight to the death over who has the best pet.  I've also watched, time and time again, the episode in which Natalie Portman convinces Big Bird that she can run Hooper's Store by singing a song about change and teaching a hyperactive neurotic elephant how to make an omelet.  Then there's the episode Kyle's watching now, a retelling of "The Sword in the Stone" featuring Baby Bear, who has a voice that only a deaf mother can love.   It's enough to drive a parent crazy sometimes.  I suppose I could get out of this cycle and just force Kyle to watch the next episode, but I don't because I believe it's about Elmo going to the DMV.

(Above: Kyle doesn't just listen to music;
he's an accomplish musician himself)
Fortunately, I have not suffered through repetitive children's music like many parents have... not yet, at least.  We just don't have it playing in our home.  I don't know if I deliberately meant for this to happen.  I do know I was traumatized years ago, when we visited my young niece and watched Barney and Friends.  The episode featured one of her favorite songs at the time, "Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy."  If you need to know what I'm talking about, go ahead and look it up on YouTube - there's no way I will subject you to that myself.  I swore then that I would never have that song in my home.  Yet I don't think I intended to keep all children's music away.  I just never attempted to listen to it.  As a stay-at-home dad, my own music has been a source of sanity, and the kids usually enjoy it.  In fact, Kyle has adopted some of our songs as his favorites, and now he likes hearing those songs over and over again.

These days his two favorites are, in his words, "To-nah-nah-nah, We are Yun" and "Zoobie Zoobie Zoobie."  The recording industry prefers to call the first song "We are Young," and it's by a group called Fun.  It's a great song that came out this year, and I enjoy hearing it each day with Kyle, even if it makes a passing comment about the singer's friends "getting higher than the Empire State."  Big deal - they could be on swings, right?  The other song is "Zou Bisou Bisou," a French tune sung by Don Draper's new wife Megan on the season premiere of AMC's Mad Men.  From what I understand, the song's lyrics are harmless; loosely translated, they're a cooking recipe for frog legs.  The song doesn't exactly fit in my classic rock collection, but Jennifer and I are fans of the show and thought it would be funny to hear the song from time to time in shuffle mode.  But then our almost-four-year-old started bouncing to it, and now he wants to hear it nearly every day.  Even our almost-one-year-old, Adam, shakes his arms to the beat.  Jennifer and I do get a kick out of watching them, though it's still a little strange when you consider how we first heard this song (click here).  Kyle has not seen this clip, and I have no plans to show it to him. To him, Mad Men is about a bunch of guys in suits and fedoras who look at pictures of bears and honey, determining what emotions they bring about (and, yes, one picture makes them "mad").  This impression, of course, is from Sesame Street.

I doubt I will introduce children's music in our home.  It's too much of a risk.  Don't get me wrong - there's a lot of good children's music out there. I often enjoy hearing it now and then. But "now and then" never happens in a young child's home.   If the kids ever fell in love with "Fruit Salad Yummy Yummy," we'd have to play it every day, sometimes several times a day.  Now that would be torture.