Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Katy Perry, Jesus Christ, and my son Owen

Last week, I was at my six year-old nephew's birthday party and soon after opening his presents, he began playing with a few toys while listening to his new "Kidz Bop" CD. If you don't know of Kidz Bop, it's basically collections of famous current pop hits sung by groups of kids to the background of faceless karaoke backing tracks. Anyway, I couldn't help but notice one of the songs on my nephew's CD was Katy Perry's recent hit, "California Girls," only the choruses were altered so that the line "California girls, we're unforgettable/ Daisy Dukes, bikinis on top" was removed altogether, ostensibly because Kidz Bop might not consider such outfits appropriate for the young audience at which Kidz Bop is aimed. Either way, the truly baffling thing was that the kids still sing the second half of the chorus- several times no less- which goes, "Sun-kissed skin, so hot, we'll melt your popsicle." It's not that I don't understand- I do understand how this would occur- I just wish it weren't so, especially given the fact that I teach language arts.

Same goes for the bigotry surrounding the controversy of having a mosque built near Ground Zero. In one of her blog statements, Sarah Palin recently pleaded with "all non-violent Muslims" that they try to be understanding of her insistence that a mosque not be built there out of respect for the painful memories of 9/11. In answer to Mrs. Palin, I would ask all "non-bigoted Christians" to consider the idea that Jesus taught his followers to love their neighbors and to turn the other cheek. Moreover, I'd argue that allowing this mosque to be built would send a message to the world that we Americans do not blame Islam itself but rather Al-Qaeda for the terrorist act. To my mind, it would be like insisting that no Catholic churches be built in the vicinity of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City because Timothy McVeigh, a terrorist who considered the U.S. government to be the "ultimate bully," was Catholic. Either way, my opinion is in the minority so maybe I truly am not understanding something here.

Let me end on a non-political note and simply relate one of those "kids say the darndest things" moments. Last weekend, our family was having lunch at this cool cafe in Brattleboro- sorry, I can't remember the name (not Mocha Joe's or the hole in the ground place, though those are cool, too- this one made a note of their careful attention to being green-friendly in every way possible)- but they had a kids' corner with tables, toys, a blackboard to scribble on, etc. and our two oldest kids went straight for it while Shelly and I ordered coffee and snacks. Owen, our three year-old, and Hannah, his older sister, insisted they didn't want anything to eat but would be happy with smoothies. Later, after some time had passed, Hannah changed her mind and asked my wife if she'd go up and obtain a muffin or something. Shelly asked Owen again if he wanted anything but he was happy playing with the chalkboard and said no. A minute later, Owen ran up to his mother in line but she still couldn't get him to decide on a treat. She picked him up and held him on her hip nonetheless. Finally, one last time she asked him if he wanted anything to eat and he said no so she asked him why he left the chalkboard to come wait in line and he stated plainly to the delight of all four of the young women working behind the counter, "I just wanted to come see the pretty girls."

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