If I could issue a warning to expectant parents or parents of babies, or even people who aren’t planning on kids yet but are perhaps playing it fast and loose in the bedroom, it would be this: Enjoy your road trip music while you can. I am and have always been, the kind of guy who likes it loud with the windows down, but those days came to a literal screeching halt the moment my children grew old enough to voice opinions and preferences about the soundtrack of our shared travels. I’m not sure what that says about my specific song choices, but they hated my music. They preferred silence to the music I was trying to introduce to them… And when I say silence I really mean screaming, laughing, and crying– which honestly wasn’t that far off from some of what I was trying to play if they had just given it a chance. I could’ve hit every one of those bases with a single Ween album, but like a couple of Pitchfork music critics, they were determined to hate it before the first note ever rang out.
Time passed, and once I gave my kids an inch, they took a mile– and that mile was somewhere down Old Town Road. These days, I can’t even get my seatbelt on before “SONG REQUEST!” hits the back of my head like a pillowcase filled with Marshmello and Imagine Dragons. These kids can wear out a song like Forrest Gump and a pair of Nikes. There is no limit to the number of miles we will put on a song in those initial weeks of first discovery. It seems only when a new song finally presents itself through clever advertising or YouTube videos that they get sick of the old and replace it with the new. It’s a cycle of frustration I simply wasn’t prepared for, and I’ve had to learn the veto card must be played fast and furiously if you’re going to avoid “Pancake Robot” or “Raining Tacos” by Parry Gripp for the umpteenth million time.
You might be the type of person who isn’t going to censor your music for your kids, and if so I applaud you. Hey, if you can get your children to understand that certain lyrics aren’t meant to be performed in public I’m impressed. But just about anything my boys hear is getting repeated– loudly and proudly. As much as I might want to headbang down memory lane blasting “Killing In the Name” by Rage Against The Machine, there would be no way to avoid one of my two young children singing the famous and highly explicit climax for all to hear… Assuredly, right about the time we end up at the Rookery for lunch on a Sunday, surrounded by people who are fresh out of church and trying to start their week on the right side of the Lord. I’m not trying to dodge that many side-eyes– even if we all should be able to agree that Jesus would’ve been a massive Zach de la Rocha fan.
So please, talk to your kids about music early and frequently. And whatever you do, don’t let them feel like they rule the stereo. It’s too late for me, but you can still save yourself.