When I was growing up, my dad had a joke. He would say that he likes “Both kinds of music….. Country AND Western.” Then we’d proceed to listen to the twangiest old bad country music the 1980’s had to offer on our 3 hour trips up north. Then of course there were the chores that needed to be done. Whether it be shoveling, doing the dishes, or helping to scrape window frames or the old farm house for painting, if I didn’t like it, it “built character”. Everything built character, mowing the lawn, my first manual labor jobs, or complaining about the long days when my own kids were young(er). It seemed as though if it made me the least bit uncomfortable it built character.
I started thinking about all this on a recent trip with the kids when I decided to play the song “Shotgun Willie” by Willie Nelson. If you haven’t heard of this yet, please take a break now and listen to it. As soon as I started playing it, I got groans from everybody and the earbuds all went in. Later I noticed on our cable TV of 2 million plus channels, that we no longer need to sit through commercials, and the options are definitely more varied than the 4 channels we had to get up to change when I was young. I could go on and on about how rough I had it compared to my kids, like video games! I had to win a fluke bingo game in order to get my half of the money for a Nintendo, now the kids can play just about anything on their iPods, AND TAKE IT ANYWHERE!! I’ll stop going on and on now. My point here isn’t to complain about the old up hill both ways thing, but to wonder where do the kids “building character” moments come from now that they aren’t innately built in to every day life? They don’t have to sit through stupid Bob Uecker Miller Lite commercials any more, although I’d love to see those make a come back! Kids don’t have to put up with a “bad song” being on the radio, the next one is at their finger tips. Hopefully they are still doing some chores around the house and grumbling about that.
This isn’t going to be a post where I offer some great answer. Everyone parents differently, and there is no wrong answer. So I’m going to leave it with a question. Where am I giving the kids the opportunity to build character, and to be ok with a moment that isn’t quite perfect? Where am I teaching the kids to enjoy both kinds of music?