Opinion: Where did we go right?


My daughter, who is 12 going on 35 going on 3 (depending on her mood) has a problem.

(Of course when you’re 12, having a problem, or more accurately problems, plural, kind of goes with the territory, but does she listen when I tell her that? No, because not listening to your parents goes with the territory, too.)

It seems we have raised her all wrong by introducing her to good music and what we consider to be quality entertainment, and it makes her the odd one out at the lunch table or on the softball team. While her friends are breathlessly discussing the latest hit by (insert name of Flavor Of The Week Recording Artist here) or going on about (insert title of Ridiculous Television Show here), she has little to no idea what they’re talking about.

Why? Because we have brought her up on Chuck Berry and Little Richard, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Bo Diddley, on the Beatles and the Stones, on good jazz and timeless classical music. And because her mother and I have monitored the amount of time she spends dinking around on various electronic devices she’s not as conversant with (Flavor of the Week, Ridiculous Show) as she thinks she should be.

Evidently this makes us neglectful parents, or something. I’m not sure. All I know is when it comes up we are subjected to much eye rolling, furious glares and occasionally big, dramatic sighs followed by stomping trips to her room.

I’m told this proves we are on the right track, that if your middle schooler is all sunshine and rainbows and agrees with the parental units on matters including art and entertainment, you’re doing it all wrong. Weird way to be right, though.

The TV thing makes me a little sad. We’re on cable and we get about a skidillion channels, three of which have programs worth watching. None of these three, I should add, is of any interest to my kid.

Where we find common ground is in stuff that I have brought to her attention – DVDs of Pee Wee’s Playhouse, for example, the most surreal television show in Saturday TV history. Or of WKRP in Cincinnati, one of my favorite shows of all time. She loves them as much as I do.

(There are others, but I mention those two because I got them as box sets for Christmas. Pee Wee’s Playhouse has been remastered and WKRP has most of the original music restored to the soundtrack. Yay, me.)

I have also introduced her to Mystery Science Theater 3000, the show about the guy who was marooned in space and forced to watch the worst movies in history with two wisecracking robots. This may be my favorite show ever. It reminds me of kidhood times spent with my brother making fun of bad movies on TV. Plus, it’s hilarious.

Anyway, my daughter loves all these things and none of her friends even know about them, which means she doesn’t fit in and that it’s all my fault for introducing her to them instead of letting her have a normal tweenerhood. Or at least, that’s the way it came to me last night accompanied by the eye rolling and the sigh.

At which point I had to ask myself:

Where did we go right?

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