Sunday, April 28, 2013

All the world's a stage...

One of the hazards of being the offspring of people who like musical theater is being subjected to the soundtracks. As a colicky baby, the Kid heard me sing Grease for 2 hours while walking her and then heard Anything Goes and Cabaret from the spouse.

The adults around here continue to like musicals a great deal and as a result the soundtracks get played a fair bit. The Kid has seen Annie several times and could sing Tomorrow for you. She's also seen A Year with Frog and Toad. She will sing the entire thing at any moment.

But then you run into the musicals that are not terribly kid-friendly and yet are so much fun to sing along to as nerdy adults. Rent comes to mind, or Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog. We adults like Rent and play it fairly often, especially when we are grumpy at the world.

Then the questions started. First she wanted to listen to it, requested it. Then she wanted to know what La Vie Boheme was about. We settled on "boring grown-up stuff" and skipped the sad songs and that one about sex.

Here's the trouble: even though she understands the words, she may not know what they mean, but she might also understand more than we think or make up things too. So how much do you explain?

When is it appropriate to start letting the kid see musicals with sad endings (or mixed ones like Rent)? Or how about when is the Wizard of Oz kid-appropriate? These are the real challenges of parenting. Media is all over and as parent of kids, I am the gatekeeper.

We've been listening to this book about how princess stuff is marketed to girls and it blows my mind. The hyper-segmented target markets with toys aimed at 3 year segments, as if childhood is split into discrete chunks that have nothing to do with each other. I worry that I'm falling for the marketing, or that I'm reacting to my mom's super censorship of "scary movies" that were really not at all scary. The line is super gray and I have no idea how to judge what will scare the kid and what will become her favorite.

The kid has been talking about how all Dizz-en-eee movies are for kids because they always have happy endings. I'm not sure how I feel about that either. Life doesn't always have a happy ending. Should all the movies she sees be sugar-coated? How long do we strive to hide the unhappy endings anyway?

I think we'll try the Sound of Music as her next musical. That seems safe for at least the first few hours.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, your home sounds like ours! And I had the same dilemma, being a Rent-lover myself.

    My take on it is that you've gotta prepare kids to live in the world as it is, not a fairy-tale world (age appropriately, of course). So if you shield them from sadness, how will they learn to deal with sadness?

    So I'm with you on that, too.

    P.S. Singalong Grease is coming to a theater near me this summer -- how fun will that be!?