Tuesday 19 January 2016

A Musical Education

Abba - definitely not old school
Littleboy 2 was recently teased at school by a boy for not having ever heard of Michael Jackson. When he said he liked Abba, the same boy told him: "Abba is old school."

While I honestly think 9 is a bit young to be dissing each other's musical tastes (!) the above, and a few other recent incidents, have made me wonder about how and whether we, as parents, influence our children's musical tastes. The death of David Bowie last week made me realise the children didn't have a clue who he was -- so I remedied that by playing them a few tracks at the weekend. (They liked "Space Oddity" and went crazy dancing to "Rebel Rebel"). Also this week, Expat Mum posted on Facebook about her 12-year-old singing "Bohemian Rhapsody" - I've tried to get the boys into that one and so far, failed.

There is a great feature-ette on BBC Radio 4's 'Saturday Live' called "Inheritance Tracks" where a celebrity talks about the music they inherited and the music they will pass on. And if you read interviews with musicians they will quite often cite the music their parents played in the house as being inspirational. But what age does this start? (And did those people actually hate their parents' music at the time, and only now recognize it as cool?)

My boys are both pretty musical, although to date their musical education has been more about learning the piano and violin and listening to a few, mostly classical, concerts at school. Very occasionally they comment on a song that's playing on the radio in the car, and as they get older this is happening more regularly. This weekend they both announced that "Stay with me" by Sam Smith is "actually quite good" and they're also quite vociferous about stuff they don't like -- so far, anything involving rap. They also love Abba (see above) since we played it in the car quite a bit last summer on holiday in Italy. But they've never been into watching MTV, like one of their cousins, and we're not the kind of hip parents who take our kids to Glastonbury or Bestival, so they probably know relatively little about modern music (other than the stuff I listen to in the car).

I sense they're at an age now where I could start to give them a bit of a musical education - not that I'm any kind of expert, but I know what I like and have, I think, fairly broad, although mainstream, tastes. But in a few years, won't this just be the equivalent of "Dad Dancing?' Is there any point in trying to get your children to appreciate the music you like? Or is liking different stuff to your parents just a perfectly normal form of teenage rebellion.....and maybe I should just let them work it out for themselves.

Oh, I asked Littleboy 2 what the mean boy did like (apart from Michael Jackson). His brother Littleboy 1 snorted before he could answer and said: "Probably One Direction."

At least he shares my opinion on that one....

Wednesday 6 January 2016

Christmas 2015 - Santa's last stand?

Littleboy 2's Christmas letter
I can't help wondering if this will be the last year of belief in Santa. Littleboy 2 is already deeply suspicious. He keeps asking questions about how he manages to deliver all the presents, and wondering why no-one ever, actually, gets put on the naughty list, despite their bad behaviour. There were also comments about why the reindeer ate less carrot than last year (answer: I was so stuffed with mince pies on Christmas Eve I couldn't even fit in half a carrot) and today, he enquired why we don't write thank-you letters to Santa. He did write a very sweet letter to Santa warning him not to get squashed in our very small fireplace -- but I think maybe he was just humouring me.

Littleboy 1, although older, won't hear a word said against the possible non-existence of Santa. This despite several children at school having told him "it's your parents" (have these kids not heard of spoilers?). He even commented that, if it weren't true, it would be terrible, because then you would have to endure being a grown-up and know there was no Santa. (That's a good point, actually....).

While in some ways it would be easier, (I wouldn't have to find different wrapping paper and gift tags for Santa's presents, and have to spend ages doing special curly writing for the tags -- yes, though small children don't notice these things, big children do) it will be terribly sad when they do stop believing. As an adult, Christmas becomes less about excitement and more about getting everything done -- but the sight of the children's pure delight as they opened their stockings meant December 25th was still one of 2015's best days for me.
Looking back at the ghosts of Christmas blogs past, I see that I've blogged before about The Calpol Christmas (2008) and The Lego Christmas (2013). Well this year, books were the dominant feature of the boys' Christmas: partly because I'd decided no more Lego for the moment. (I'm not being mean; they have a whole playroom full of the stuff, and now that their themed models have mosty fallen apart, they are quite happy to make new creations out of the old Lego).

I bought them books; Father Christmas bought them books; relatives bought them books, partly directed by me. They even bought each other books: Littleboy 2 gave Littleboy 1 "Magnus Chase," the new book by "Percy Jackson" author Rick Riordan, which he was terribly pleased by, while Littleboy 2 received several David Walliams books, and from me, "Five Children on the Western Front" by Kate Saunders, which I'm really looking forward to reading too. Sticking with the literary theme, we gave Littleboy 1 a Tintin-themed duvet cover; Littleboy 2 has a Roald Dahl duvet from last year.

Meanwhile Littleboy 2 also had something of a Tiger-themed Christmas, fuelling a long-held obsesssion. He'd written to Santa requesting "something to do with tigers," so I adopted him a tiger through WWF. It came in a box with a tiny tiger cub toy, a "child" for his original, much-loved WWF tiger toy, and we'll apparently get monthly updates on the tiger, who lives in Nepal; I hope, though, we don't have to visit, as she's a tigress with two cubs, and I'm sure they're not as cute and cuddly in the flesh.

Happy new year!