Black Sabbath

I’m starting to get a glimpse of the enormous challenge that is effectively teaching and guiding multiple children throughout their different life stages. And my oldest is only 4. As a parent, some of your teaching methodology comes from your own experience and skill set and familiarity with your individual kids and their present needs. But a lot of it is just dumb ol’ trial and error. Trying this and trying that. Like messing with the various dials on a short wave radio until you get the right combination that taps into a frequency that works. I’ve been thinking about this, and about the great job my parents did at this sort of thing. They were always teaching, always trying, always innovating. Some things worked and some things didn’t. Thinking about all of this recently brought to mind one of my favorite teaching memories.

Growing up, the only music allowed in my home on Sunday was churchy music and classical music, and maybe The Safety Kids (not to be confused with The Cold War Kids). And even on weekdays, Oldies 94.1 and CDs like Big River and Barry Manilow’s Showstoppers was about as crazy as things got, at least out in the common area of the house. But one morning I woke up to a sweet new sound floating through the hallways of Morning Peace (What’s that you say? Oh, we didn’t tell you? Why yes, my parents named our house “Morning Peace” after touring Europe, with all its titled estates. The house has a plaque to prove it). I think it was Led Zeppelin. Maybe Metallica. At 8 in the morning. Very loud, coming from the family room’s stereo system. It was Sunday.

Bleary-eyed, I followed the sound to its source. I assumed mom and dad had died during the night and the older kids were celebrating our liberation. But instead of the French Revolution scene I was expecting, I found an awkward, confusing one. The music was uncomfortably loud, even for us kids. And there, standing in the family room was my Mom, trying to look casual, trying to look like she was enjoying herself. Mother had cracked. The older kids, having enough older kid wisdom to smell a rat, refused to participate in the charade. They weren’t going to be anyone’s patsy. They were eating breakfast at the table near by, alternating between ignoring her and glowering disdainfully at the disingenuous scene this woman in her mid forties was forcing us all to endure.

I asked her what was going on.

“What do you mean?” she yelled with a forced smile.

“Why are we listening to Z93 Rock? You don’t ever let us play this. And today is Sunday.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m having a real cool time. Aren’t you? This is neat music, I think!”


Neat Sabbath Music

I enjoyed myself for a few minutes, but soon the weirdness overcame even young me. Something shady was afoot, and even if one could get past the fact that this was a apparently a set up, having a two-person dance party to Deep Purple with your snapping mother is only fun for so long.

As it turned out this was an object lesson. Hours later we were asked how listening to this music on the Sabbath made us feel? I defiantly said I loved it (BURN!). Others probably answered that it gave them an awful, dark feeling inside, but more because mom was acting groovy than because of Hendrix’s brilliant guitar riffs.

I love that memory. You might even say I cherish it. Because, as I’ve said before, I love entrepreneurs. And I think all people should be entrepreneurs in their parenting. Always reaching and adapting and hustling. My mom certainly was, and I aim to be the same.

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15 Responses to Black Sabbath

  1. Eliza says:

    Oh my gosh, another tear filled post from laughter. So Dang funny! I must have been too young to remember this but wow I felt like I was there, I could totally picture mom snapping and saying “neat”. Hilarious post! and wow so true about the trial and error in parenting, I had no idea how little I would know what I’m doing as a parent, I thought you would just have automatic wisdom when you become one.

  2. Davis says:

    If memory serves, the song in question was Magic Carpet Ride.

  3. Layne says:

    That reminds me of the time when my mom took the kid car (me and my little bro shared one) and a Sublime CD was left on. We both liked Sublime with their reggae rock sound. Anyway, she couldn’t figure out how to turn it off or down, so she cruised around town listening to Sublime. Well, as luck would have it, the song had several choice words of the 4 letter variety that were outlawed in our home.

    Later that day, Mother approached us and dropped the F bomb among other swear words and said, “I heard that on your CD. You need to get rid of that one.” I cherish that memory. It is not everyday that you hear you Mother speak in a way that would make a sailor blush.

    I picture my mom driving to the post office, the grocery store, maybe to the mall, all while rocking out to the Sublime singer swearing. That still makes me laugh.

  4. Mollie says:

    Barry Manilow’s Showstoppers was a major part of the soundtrack of my youth as well. My father bought a car with a six-CD changer in the trunk, although he owned fewer than six CDs total at the time (and probably still; he’s not much of a music fan). He just thought it was a neat feature, I guess. Somebody got him that Barry Manilow CD, who knows why, and he put it in that CD-changer device, and there it stayed for good. When Dad drove us somewhere, we listened to Barry, and if I tried hard I could probably still tell you the track numbers of our favorite selections. (I was a “The Kid Inside” sort of gal; my little brother liked “Fugue for Tinhorns,” and my dad rocked out to “Once in Love with Amy.”) The other two CDs were a Gloria Estefan greatest hits collection (why?) and the “assorted artists” CD that came with the car.

  5. Jessica Sedgwick says:

    I don’t know your mom that well, but I can just picture the two of you rockin’ out to “Magic Carpet Ride” (great song, by the way). Makes me laugh out loud. I think I’m gonna try that with my kids in a few years when they’re teenagers. So many things to look forward to…keep the parenting tips coming!

  6. Braden says:

    Hilarious post, Kook, like crying and aching from laughing so hard funny. I can’t remember if I was here at this time. Possibly I was and have just blocked out the memory of mom calling this kind of music “neat.”

    However, as a parent of teens, I now have to give mom props. It is a constant guerilla war and you have to be endless creative, totally ruthelss and assymmetrical, adapting and experimenting new tactics constantly.

  7. Jaron says:

    My dad tried to “set me straight” about R rated movies by sitting me down to watch the the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan. I suppose he thought that viewing the language and gore in his presence would be uncomfortable enough to make me think twice about watching such a movie. Turns out as a retired air force officer he loved the movie, watched the whole thing with me, and subsequently sat down to view both Band of Brothers and Blackhawk Down on later occasions. I suppose you could say I set him straight…

  8. chelsea says:

    Laughing so hard at this post! My mom pulled a few of those stunts on us too and they are burned on my brain. Your mom is awesome.
    ps – love the reference to Safety Kids. I was in a Safety Kids touring group in 5th grade and still have the sweatshirt and dance moves to prove it. “I got my very own set of designer genes, how do they make me look…”

  9. Rebecca Bell says:

    unfortunately for story-telling value, my mom never came up with any creative kind of parenting like this. i do remember her one time going in my brother’s room and breaking in half all of his “bad” cd’s. it must be noted that my brother had some pretty horrendous music.
    growing up, my dad became known for a lot of sayings/stories/lessons that he would repeat over and over. whenever me or my siblings would turn on our “cool” music, my dad would shout dramatically, “this music is attacking my nervous system!” then it was back to books on tape or beethoven.

  10. Macy Bell says:

    One of my sisters was a big door slammer , and anytime she was angry she would go upstairs to her room and slam the door. My dad was so tired of it he walked upstairs and removed both her bedroom door and i am pretty sure her bathroom door too. Creative parenting…i need to be thinking more along these lines.

  11. Lindsey says:

    Loves it. Can you just take my kids? They need some of your creativity. My tactic of trying the same thing over and over and assuming they will eventually cave isn’t working out too well.

  12. Oh man. I’ve had a bit of a crappy week and have been bogged down with work stuff and kid stuff…I was getting a little depressed. Some might ask, “Have you been reading your scriptures like you should?” but what they should really be asking me is, “Have you been reading DDDT like you should?” Eh? Got Scripture Jokes? Really though, I knew DDDT would give me the pick-me-up I’ve been needing and I’m delighted to have some time to catch up. Just delighted.

    Favorites from this amazing post: Safety Kids (yesss), Morning Peace (the most awesome thing I’ve ever heard), and “I assumed mom and dad had died during the night and the older kids were celebrating our liberation” (one of your best lines ever).

    Your parents sound like THE ultimate in creative, effective parenting. I wish they’d write a book. Or you guys just keep pouring your memories of their entrepreneurial parenting into the blogosphere. I really can’t get enough. Zack’s mom is an expert in this also. At Christmas last year, my little 3 1/2 yr old nephew hit her dog in the head for no reason. I may or may not have ratted him out (don’t worry about it), and Linda proceeded to put little Jack in the dog’s tiny plastic kennel in the laundry room. She shut the door and let him stay there for like 20 minutes while we finished getting dinner ready. Then she yelled through the door, “Mmmmm, doesn’t dinner smell good Jack? Dinner isn’t for doggies though, so you don’t get dinner right now.” I know it all sounds super harsh, and believe me, I was cracking up with my sister-in-law who was razzing her mom (“Mom, are you going to make him eat dog food for dinner?”), but it worked. He didn’t cry or anything, but after 20 minutes, he started asking if he could come out and eat dinner. Linda asked him if he liked being a dog. He said no. She told him he better treat the dog better, and there were no more problems.

    This post couldn’t be timed better – this week my 4 year old son got in trouble for misbehaving at the little preschool group we have. Yesssss, awesome, son. It’s definitely a humbling experience, being a parent. It’s hard to tell how much of your teaching is actually sticking. Thyme will tell goes ye olde saying.

  13. Susan says:

    Ha! Great story! This post was super funny, and sort of ironic to me because just a few doors down (but in a whole other world) we weren’t allowed to listen to anything BUT Z93 on Sunday mornings! The radio belonged to The Vonster (Mr. Allen) on Sundays, we wouldn’t dare touch the dial!
    It was nice to put a name to a face with some of you at Yellowfinn last night! What a small, crazy world!

  14. Christian says:

    Eliza, I always enjoy reading your anecdotes about not having the instinct that others seem to have about boundaries for kids. I think the truth is that 2% of the population really does have a natural gift for that, while 97% of us don’t, but we legislate and punish by gut reaction and won’t admit it. You’re in the 1% who is honest, looking at your 4 year old and saying “I’m, going to be honest with you buddy, I have no idea how much tv and cookies is too much, but my sense is that the average among the rest of the moms in the neighborhood is X and Y, so let’s try that.”

    Layne, holy crap. So freaking funny. Comment of the week. Ry, put this man’s comment up STAT!

    Mollie, Are you serious? Someone else was raised on Showstoppers. lol. Do you remember that awful song about the divorce, and about who got what? What was that one called? I liked the medley about the horserace the best. That one got really jazzy and fun.

    Jessica, if you think I’m going to try to give parenting tips to the 2 people I know disciplined enough to 1. not own a tv and 2. to make smoothies with vegetables that their kids like, you’re got another think coming. We have some really bad parents who read this blog, and this advise is for them. Although if you need any marriage help, we do have a service we offer called Tiebreakers…

    Braden, Guerrilla War. Well put. That’s about how I picture it.

    Jaron, lolololol. I read this to my folks I loved it so much. Ry, take down Layne’s comment and put Jaron’s up STAT!

    Chelsea, hold on a second. There were Safety Kids touring groups? And you were in one? Lolol. “Sometimes you just gotta yell and scream, sometimes it’s the only thing to do, noisy as a firetruck, you just gotta open up, and get the crowd’s attention to you!”

    Reba, Tell him his driving assaults our nervous systems.

    Macy, that’s so great. What better punishment for a teenage girl?

    Lindsey, that’s kind of how I am. I just figure that there is some magic number of times that doing the failed thing will work. 4,230 or 25,392. Who knows.

    Danica, the dog kennel approach is great. Davis, I need to borrow Lyla’s kennel for a few months. And keep the poop in it.

    Susan, good to hear from you! Ryan excitedly texted me that he saw you at Yellowfinn. Dang funny about Z93 being all you could listen to on Sunday. I’m sure you were begging him to let you listen to Safety Kids. If only I’d known there was a house 100 yards away where all my Sunday morning dreams could have been realized…

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