Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh the joys of the 13 year old boy...

So the boy is 13 years-old and in the 8th grade. He's a big guy now, and acting like it. Acting all big and tough and...? DUMB. But then I guess we all got dumb when we really started being teenagers right?! Of course when I was growing up the dangers that presented themselves to teens were not as great or lethal (it seems) as what faces our kids today.

As he has started the downward slide of missing assignments and mouthing off to his teachers and talking too much in class, I've put my foot down with consequences that he felt immediately. No more electronics for 3+ weeks. No more hip-hop/rap music. (I had blogged about this a month or so ago - his love for it) He can no longer listen to the popular radio station that his friends listen to and has had to delete all of the rap songs from his MP3 player. He also hasn't been able to listen to his MP3 player for close to a week now. He can't go to the local dance this Friday night. TV has been even more limited and he doesn't have free access to any and all shows - I have to approve them.

Now this was always the way - I approve what he listens to and watches. But there are times when I've been a little more lax and tried to respect his individuality. I liked different things growing up than my mom - you know? But dammit. DAMMIT. I just don't see any real positive influence that comes from hip-hop/rap that the kids all want to listen to. And this is a style of music that came into being as I grew up. It isn't as if I'm some old fuddy-duddy who is so out of whack with the modern times.

But after all of these years with my only enjoying a handful of songs/artists (more dance less rap) - I still have yet to see the REALLY powerful and positive message behind this style of "music". Because? It simply doesn't seem to exist. Not really. And the kids - gosh the kids that my son hangs out with. They do NOT come from the hood or tough streets. They haven't grown up in project housing or long-established welfare households. Sure some of them come from divorced families and unemployed parents, and some tougher financial straights (hello? I was unemployed for 18 months until 6 months ago and am a single mom). But even with any of the trials and tough things these kids experience (there is some gang activity locally sure..) it is NOTHING compared to what is discussed in these songs. Their culture is NOT that culture.

So why do they gravitate towards it so? Why is it so damned interesting or thought to be cool? I simply do not get it. I didn't get it when I was growing up. I mean - who wants to live in fear all day every day that you'll be shot or someone close to you will be shot? WHAT?! How is that awesome or cool or something to be envied or admired? Why do they wish to be associated with crime, thievery, getting one's street "cred", being sexually promiscuous, and outsmarting the police? How on earth is that appealing - on any level?!

Anyway - this is the music that my son has gotten interested in over the last few months. And while he still has a pretty varied musical collection (thanks to yours truly) - this is what he 'd listen to most of all if given his choice. And? He's a real punk most of the time now. He is mouthy and disrespectful. And yes I know some of that comes from his burgeoning teenage rebellion. But not all of it. No. A lot of it comes from what he watches and listens to - it does for all of our kids.

I will fight him tooth and nail to do my best so that he doesn't continue to be this kind of "poser" that will only get him into trouble with really tough kids that will be affronted by his posturing. Or any of his friends' posturing. But more importantly I will do everything I can to remind him that there is nothing wrong with coming from a solid family. From a somewhat milder neighborhood. That there is nothing wrong and only everything RIGHT with embracing education and respect and goodness towards others.

So he'll continue on as an Honors Black Belt in Karate. He'll continue on in the Young Marines youth group (oh get your kids involved - they are awesome!). And he'll continue to be taught to stand tall and straight and proud. He'll be taught about America and honor. He has no choice.

I suppose he'll resent me the whole way.
Until he doesn't. Right?!

And because I'm posting - check out this WSJ article:
I happened to enjoy that Tea Party rally we were at over the weekend!


Heidi said...

I suspect it's because he's more listening to it for the sound, rather than the lyrics. At least that's why I listened to a lot of songs that I would never let my parents know I listen to. But then I grew up and actually GOT it and realized how distasteful it was. That's the other thing. Even though teens go through rebellious stages, if they have a strong foundation like it sounds like Alex does, eventually they'll figure this stuff out on their own, words of wisdom do stick around in the minds somewhere, and that just comes with maturity. Maybe try printing off the lyrics and having him read it out loud to you? It might make it a little more vivid for him. But just saying "You're not allowed to listen to rap." and having that be the end of it usually doesn't work. And in my case, only led to me being more sneaky about it. He's gotta make the connection why it's not tasteful and think it was HIS idea to be more selective about his music choices. That's just the stupid pride of being of a teen. lol The other thing might be to maybe trying to find some rap music with positive messages. I know they're few and far between, but if you search the web, there ARE rap groups out there trying to spread more respectful messages using the same style of music. It might be a good compromise and give him something to compare the other trashy lyrics to? :)

Just Jenn said...

I forgot to mention that I have printed out some lyrics for him, Heidi, and then he's wrinkled his nose in distaste. So there has been some ground gained in more positive direction. I understand the rebellion aspect. Expct it even. I am just confounded by so many teens gravitating towards more destructive and demoralizing sounds/music. And imitating/admiring those that create it - even if they go to jail - like T.I. *shakes head*