You’re Going to Love the Dance!

18 Jul

Before we packed up the kids and headed east to enjoy a few weeks of cooler weather this summer (fools!), I had my kids in summer programs in Arizona. As an incoming Kindergartener, Annie was now attending “big kid” camp where kids ranged in age from 5 to I don’t know…much older. 10 maybe? In any case, this was a fantastic experience overall: the counselors were young and fun; riding a bus was a thrill; and Annie had a chance to make some new friends and become comfortable with kids of different ages. It amazed me to see how mature and independent she became in a few short weeks. She came home happy and proud of herself every day.

On one particular day she came home begging (I mean seriously – hands clasped, on knees… begging) for me to download the song “Call Me Maybe.” No doubt this is quite the catchy tune – I had been enjoying it with the rest of America myself. But now my 5 year old was on the floor, campaigning desperately for me to add it to our collection:

Annie: “Please Mommy!! I know ALL the words!”
Me: “I don’t know Anne. I don’t really like this song for you.”
Annie: “And I learned the whole dance!”
Me: “Annie, this song is kind of inappropriate.”
Annie: “I learned it at camp.” (And by this I believe she meant that it must be sanctioned).
Me: “Oh, hey….how about this Kidz Bop version?”
Annie: “Nooooo (defeated tears). I learned the whole thing and I want to show you.”
Me: “Arrrrgghhh…..Fine!”

The garage door opened as the song downloaded, and Annie raced to greet my husband at the door.

Annie: “Daddy come quick! This song is really unappropriate. But you’re going to LOVE the dance!!”

I don’t know if I’d say that I loved the dance. It was awfully “mature.” I love the dancer and her determination, concentration and tenacity. But the dance left me feeling uncomfortable and not sure what I should do about it.  Should I say something to the camp directors? What would I even say that wouldn’t have me ignored as a fun-sucking, goody-two-shoe mom? Is the song really that inappropriate? Should I have held my ground at the downloading stand-off? I really don’t know…..“Call Me Maybe” may not be the most over-the-top with the mature messages or overly sexually explicit, but hearing those words sung by my 5 year-old did cause me to pause, yet, I really didn’t do anything about it.

Image credit: Live Science “Why 6 Year-Old Girls Want To Be Sexy”

I think some people would argue that it’s the parents’ responsibility to control the media and messages their children are exposed to. I also think most parents would argue – impossible! A recent study published in the journal Sex Roles found that when girls ages 6 to 9 years-old were shown images of sexy vs. trendy, but covered up dolls, 68% of the girls said the sexy doll looked how they wanted to look, and 72% said they believed the sexy doll was more popular than the non-sexy doll.  While these findings are alarming and upsetting, they may not be all together surprising. But what struck me as one of the most interesting parts of the study was that “low media consumption” was not a protective factor against early self-sexualization in girls. According to the synopsis in Live Science, authors of the study indicated that “mothers who reported often using TV and movies as teaching moments about bad behaviors and unrealistic scenarios were much less likely to have daughters who said they looked like the sexy doll.”

Assuming this applies to other negative messages and media sources our kids are exposed to, this disturbing study actually left me feeling less hopeless. So while I may have felt a bit defeated with my daughter’s un-appropriate performance of “Call Me Maybe,” I’m committed to taking better advantage of teachable moments with my kids (although I can’t promise I’ll be correcting the grammar).

20 Responses to “You’re Going to Love the Dance!”

  1. Stacy July 18, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    My 7 year old likes that song too. It is disturbing to hear her sing it, but it is so hard to know what she is taking from it and I have refrained from talking to her about it because I don’t want to bring up topics that aren’t really even on her mind. Perhaps she just likes the catchy tune and doesn’t attention to the lyrics even if she knows them. You inspired me to ask her what she thinks the song is about and start a conversation. Thanks!

    • Hillary Manaster July 19, 2012 at 6:53 am #

      You always do such a great job of breaking things down with your kids. I’d love to hear how that conversation goes.

  2. Tabi July 18, 2012 at 5:34 pm #

    Mama, I am not comfortable with my 12 year old daughter listening to such songs and especially the dance. When it comes to your kids and someone else being responsible for them, speak your mind..you only have one shot at raising your daughter, so call them up and politely express your concern. Who cares what they think of you anyways, it’s your daughter and you determine what is innapropriate.

    I threw a wish in the well,
    Don’t ask me, I’ll never tell
    I looked to you as it fell,
    And now you’re in my way

    I’d trade my soul for a wish,
    Pennies and dimes for a kiss
    I wasn’t looking for this,
    But now you’re in my way

    Your stare was holdin’,
    Ripped jeans, skin was showin’
    Hot night, wind was blowin’
    Where you think you’re going, baby?

    Hey, I just met you,
    And this is crazy,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    It’s hard to look right,
    At you baby,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    Hey, I just met you,
    And this is crazy,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    And all the other boys,
    Try to chase me,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    You took your time with the call,
    I took no time with the fall
    You gave me nothing at all,
    But still, you’re in my way

    I beg, and borrow and steal
    Have foresight and it’s real
    I didn’t know I would feel it,
    But it’s in my way

    Your stare was holdin’,
    Ripped jeans, skin was showin’
    Hot night, wind was blowin’
    Where you think you’re going, baby?

    Hey, I just met you,
    And this is crazy,
    [ From: http://www.metrolyrics.com/call-me-maybe-lyrics-carly-rae-jepsen.html ]
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    It’s hard to look right,
    At you baby,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    Hey, I just met you,
    And this is crazy,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    And all the other boys,
    Try to chase me,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    Before you came into my life
    I missed you so bad
    I missed you so bad
    I missed you so, so bad

    Before you came into my life
    I missed you so bad
    And you should know that
    I missed you so, so bad

    It’s hard to look right,
    At you baby,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    Hey, I just met you,
    And this is crazy,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    And all the other boys,
    Try to chase me,
    But here’s my number,
    So call me, maybe?

    Before you came into my life
    I missed you so bad
    I missed you so bad
    I missed you so, so bad

    Before you came into my life
    I missed you so bad
    And you should know that

    So call me, maybe?

  3. Beth July 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    I’ve been surprised by how much image awareness my 5 year old has. She’s interested in clothes and uses the phrase, “so last season” to express disdain for outfits that don’t meet her standards. She also talks about weight. Like you, I work to have conversations and re-calibrate the messages she is seeing and hearing.

    • Hillary Manaster July 19, 2012 at 7:03 am #

      It has been surprising to see what 5 year-olds pick-up on. The conversations are key!

  4. ashleybustamante July 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

    When I was 5 I went to a cheer camp trial day hosted by the cheer team from the local high school. The idea was that you go to the trial day and if you liked it you could sign up for the full camp. It was all going well until my mom came to pick me up and asked me if I could do any cheers for her. I promptly performed my favorite one. Although I can’t remember it exactly, it had something to do with “sexy girls kick,” complete with a wiggle of the hips and a high kick to show off how short your skirt was. My mom didn’t sign me up for the full camp for some reason. 😉

    However, the lyrics and cheer moves had absolutely no meaning to me at five. I had no idea what I was saying or doing and I didn’t understand my mom’s reaction. I just thought I was doing a fun routine. So I think it’s likely that your daughter has no idea what the words of that song mean, either. But I think it’s great that you explained to her that they were inappropriate! My mom didn’t want to talk to me about it (because she thought it was too mature of a subject for a five-year-old) but I just remember feeling confused, and then feeling upset because I thought I did something wrong, but I had no idea what I did. So even a simple explanation of “that’s not appropriate for girls your age and I don’t like that they taught you that” would have been beneficial to me.

    • Hillary Manaster July 19, 2012 at 7:25 am #

      I’m sure you’re right – I don’t think Annie put any thought to the meaning of the song. But you’re absolutely right about the significance of a conversation. Thanks so much for sharing this reflection!

      Sent from my iPhone

  5. Paula July 18, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    If we as mothers don’t speak up and say “That’s innappropriate for this age group”, how are they to know? So what if they think we’re fuddy duddy? For the sake of our kids we need to get over that. We know we’re not fuddy duddy, we’re experienced and knowledgeable. So speak up with confidence. I have had many people approach me after I spoke up in a group setting thinking I was the only one with these objections, and tell me that they were glad I did. I then encouraged them to do so also. The more we show confidence in speaking out for the well being of our children, the more others will also.

    • Hillary Manaster July 19, 2012 at 7:31 am #

      I have an email in the works and all this support and encouragement is exactly what I need! Thanks!

      Sent from my iPhone

  6. Adrianne July 19, 2012 at 2:44 am #

    My mom says one thing I was born with was a love of dancing. In fact, I asked for a radio when I was around 5 or 6. So, while I would listen to On Top of Spaghetti and She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain on my record player, I was also listening to Bon Jovi, Debbie Gibson, and Michael Jackson on the radio. When I was around 11, I loved En Vogue, and sang my parents some of the lyrics to “Free Your Mind” which included the word “prostitute.” My mom asked if I knew what a prostitute was, and when I said I didn’t she filled me in. And it made me start to realize there were probably a lot of songs I loved, but didn’t understand. So I started to pay more attention. In my opinion, these types of conversations are key. My parents let me listen to music because they knew I loved it, but they also taught me to think about what I was listening to and how it was affecting me and other women–all without making me feel like I was doing something wrong. We women have to navigate these waters for the rest of our lives. To this day I still struggle with listening to songs that make me want to dance wildly around the room, but contain lyrics I completely disagree with. Teaching girls to make their own decisions about what feels right and empowering is essential. I know some of the dance moves I do are because society thinks they’re sexy. But when I do them, I feel sexy for other reasons–I feel free in my body, I feel strong, I feel flexible, I feel totally connected to myself. I think it’s best to teach girls young so they’re armed with a discerning mind, the knowledge that they can continue to ask questions, and the confidence to choose whatever it is that’s right for them as they grow–from songs and dance moves to a career and life values.

    • morecompassion July 19, 2012 at 6:38 am #

      I’ll preface my comment by saying I’m surely an expert since i have no children. Ha. That being said, I think any opportunity that presents itself as an opportunity for a conversation is great. The ability to have those uncomfortble discussions is a trait I really value in parents. Just because we don’t have all the answers, doesn’t mean we can’t learn something along the way. I think the fact that you’re thinking about the messages and what your daughter is receiving is really cool. Sounds like you’ve got some great perceptive kids, so nothing wrong with talking about why she likes the song and why you might be hesitant.

      • Hillary Manaster July 20, 2012 at 8:09 am #

        Such a good point about not having all the answers. I know that the worry of not having the “right” thing to say often gets in my way. But you’re so right – we can all stand to learn something along the way, and the conversations and open communication are key!

    • Hillary Manaster July 19, 2012 at 7:59 am #

      Well said Adrianne! Thank you for this thoughtful response. And you’re so right – The conversations are key!

      Sent from my iPhone

  7. Pamela August 6, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    Really thoughtful topic; we don’t listen to a ton of modern popular music in our house and this is the reason, but even many of our “old school” songs have questionable lyrics. It’s so hard because we can’t possibly control all the messages our children receive. But as Adrianne stated, you can educate and talk about them which helps children become critical thinkers and learn about values. I agree with you that this song is inappropriate and I think you are smart to listen to that voice in your gut that says…”Um, REALLY not feeling this one.” I’m not sure how old the camp counselors were at this particular place, but in general, I think it is likely that many young adolescents might not fully appreciate the perspective of a parent (until they have that experience some day or just grow up a bit, right?). A conversation with those folks might be educational and valuable for them.

  8. Sarah August 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm #

    If it makes you feel better (and it might not), “Call Me Maybe” is also the song-of-the-moment with our 5 year old. Nobody in her summer camp leadership exposed her to it, and neither did we (we aren’t really the Top 40 crowd these days). But she heard it, as kids hear things, on the playground. Some of the other kids (upcoming 1st graders) were singing it. C, wanting to play along, caught on, and started singing it. Incessantly. When I asked about it at their preschool/summer camp, they were aware, but not overly concerned.

    And as I listened to C sing the words, I realized – not only does she not understand the true meaning – she doesn’t even know the right words. She had replaced lyrics with those that made sense to her 5-year-old mind. Quite sweet actually. I explained that those weren’t the words, and that since a grown up was singing it, the words were more for grown-ups (like our conversations about wine!). She said that was fine, and she liked her words better anyway.

    If you haven’t already, check out Cookie Monster’s “Share It Maybe” on YouTube for a more innocent – and pretty darn fun – version.

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  1. Pick your battles and words wisely « Superhero Princess - July 31, 2012

    […] to always speak-up, raise your concerns, make your requests, state your needs…  A reader on my last blog post commented, “When it comes to your kids and someone else being responsible for them, speak your […]

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