While we were on one of our recent road trips,  Cute W was fiddling with the radio stations, and he stumbled on Flo Rida’s Whistle. This pop song was new to him, and honestly, it’s catchy, until you notice the words. They begin, “Can you blow my whistle baby, whistle baby, let me know. Girl I’m gonna show you how to do it and we start real slow. You just put your lips together and. . . ” at about this point, it is clear that Mr. Rida is using the whistle as a metaphor. For something else entirely. At the time, I tried to make Significant Eye Contact with Cute W, because usually I’d defer to whatever he’d like on the radio (driver’s choice is an unofficial family rule). And if I said something to him, even in a whisper, my children would begin to listen carefully to our conversation carefully, and even if we’d turned the song off, their antennae would be up for the next time that they heard it. This is actually  one of the bummers about car trips these days. I swear, if the conversation turns to anything half-interesting, they freeze and go all bionic ears on us. It’s difficult to have a substantive conversation about anything, because even if we’re not talking about something that’s adults-only, they’ll jump in asking enough questions about, say, who’s who in Cute W’s office or which neighbor said what, to make conversational flow impossible.  Eventually, Cute W caught the drift of the words and switched off the song. But since then I’ve encountered it enough to fear that my children might be noticing the lyrics, too.

When I was growing up, I feel like so much of that stuff just flew right over my head. Sandra Dee was “lousy with virginity,” but I really had no idea what Stockard Channing was talking about. Of course, that was back when you’d only watch a movie once. Now my girls have watched Hairspray tons of times, and they grasp a little more of it each and every time.


Or maybe I just fear that they’re grasping more. As a child I was completely clueless. Once some girl in 3rd grade was running around asking people if they were virgins. My friends deferred to me because I was usually the one who knew vocabulary words. In this case I put the word into context (generally a good move; ask any English teacher). The only virgin I knew of for sure was such a goody two-shoes that she was picked by God to have His child, and while I was really quite good, I had to concede that I wasn’t entirely good. No, I declared. I wasn’t a virgin, and probably none of us were.

But really, the music is much worse now. I am old enough to remember tittering over the “damn” in Bad Bad Leroy Brown.  Seriously, it’s enough to make me empathize belatedly with Tipper Gore. I have multiple friends who’ve cursed Katy Perry for prompting their kids to ask, “What’s a ménage à trois?” At last year’s school dance, there was a scandal because the DJ went against PTO specifications and played  I’m Sexy And I Know It when some kid requested it. The ménage à trois question still hasn’t come up at our house (I am SO knocking on wood right now), and we managed the Sexy problem by channeling our enthusiasm for that catchy tune into the I’m Elmo and I Know It parody. But, you know, Sesame Street can’t do a parody of everything (although they sure seem to try).

We have no cable tv and the girls don’t spend much time on the computer. I’ll casually change radio stations, and I avoid playing Ke$ha around them because even though I work out to her music, because I agree with her own assessment that it’s “kind of douchey.”  I am not even kidding about that one.

Still, I can’t control everything they hear from their friends and I’ll often learn, much later, about something iffy that happened at school or a friend’s house.

We’re just getting to that age. I remember my sister telling me about the time her older son came running home from school announcing, “Mom! I know what humping is!” She says she froze and hoped, for a split second, that he was wrong, that he was referring to something else entirely, but as he ran to join her and his toddler sister at the swing set, he continued, “I know what humping is. . .  and it’s DISGUSTING!” When he declared it disgusting, she reported to me, her immediate reaction was, “Oh my God, he really does know what humping is.”

So, yeah. . . I guess I don’t really have a point here. Maybe it’s just another one of those feel my thirst posts. How about the rest of you? Is there anything you’re encountering in pop culture that just makes you squirm lately?


  1. Maggie

    There’s a good piece in the NYT’s Motherlode blog about this topic. My only solution for now is to try to offset all of the crap music with the good stuff.

  2. Cheri

    I can’t tell you the number of times that song has started and I started singing along and then realized what I was singing, and jumped in horror to turn it off. I don’t ever explain why and I think they’ve stopped asking, for now.

  3. Jill

    Yup I can relate to all of it! I have to switch the channels on occasion, luckily my kids don’t get why, I’m still able to play it off as I don’t like certain songs. In our car on long trips we dream of a sound proof piece of glass that slides up behind the front seats, like a limo. And yes at a dance at our school, I complained about the song that has lyrics about the square root of 69 is 8 somthing….nice. The DJ said well the kids don’t understand….uh I beg to differ that some 6th graders and younger DO understand. Loved the post, can totally imagine you trying to give cute W a look…so funny!

  4. Here’s the link to the piece Maggie mentioned:
    It reminded me of my response when I heard that M may have watched a a tv show that I think is horrifying at a friend’s house–I’m not going to say she can’t watch it, but I want to know when she watches it so I can point out everything that makes it so horrifying. She’s definitely soaked up my feminism and is on the alert to anything disrespectful to women, so I take some comfort in that.

  5. Mari

    What really bugs me is that Radio Disney-Radio Disney!-plays of this stuff. Shouldn’t a radio station called Radio Disney be able to play thing They Might Be Giants-Here Comes the ABCs instead of back to back songs I’d rather she not hear yet?

  6. @Mari, ugh–that’s frustrating. You’d think that would be safe, right? But really they’re just training the kids to be cradle-to-grave Disney consumers. . . .

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