Friday, June 15, 2012

Your Radio, Your Music

"Mom, look!"  Youngest sat next to the computer, typed in a few words on the navigation bar, and up popped, "Disney Radio."  "You gotta hear this song."  A second or two later the song from Disney channel's newest musical came rapping over the speaker. His face reflect the luminescent screen glow from his laptop. But there was no mistaking his delight at having found a website with his favorite music.

Suddenly he was the face of the boy who sat next to the shoe-box sized radio listening to the newest swing sounds from the 1940's. He was the boy who practically clung to the radio as the sounds of the Grand Ol' Oprey floated around the room, the Midwestern boy who dreamed of the sweet sands on the beaches of California as the Beach Boys sang surfing songs.  I remembered my transistor radio, hand sized, the new technology of the time, that I cuddled in bed at night, waiting for my favorite hit. The technology may have changed, but what hasn't is the pull of new music that will define a young person's youth. Who can't remember the delicious time spent singing with your favorite songs?

"Do you like it, Mom?" His voice was filled with hope.

The syrupy rap lyrics floated out of my computer's speakers. Gone was the raw edge that defined the genre.  I smiled and said, "It seems okay!"

He relaxed. "I thought so, too."

"You like rap?"

"Not the stuff with bad words," he said. "Not the stuff that talks about hurting people and stuff."

"Yeah." I nodded.

We listened long enough for me to understand that he could listen to song after song.  "You wanted to watch "Burn Notice" tonight?" I asked.  Earlier he had informed me that there was a "Burn Notice" marathon, and how great the show was because "it talks all about how to be a spy." Very cool stuff.

"Naw," he said. "Do you mind if I take your laptop and listen to these songs?"

I smiled and watched as he packed it up and slipped off to our bed, engrossed in his generation's music, like so many generations before him. And I was reminded of the words my mother liked to say, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Watching Life in the Rear View Mirror

Oldest left for a performing arts camp last weekend and returned last night. His dance class has 39 girls- and him. When I asked him how he liked it, he said that whenever he heads over to his classroom, he tries to think of a dozen ways to get out of it. It's usually hot, he's tired, he knows he's going to have to put out some extreme energy, he's feeling lazy. But when he's done, he's super-glad he's participated. I wonder if that's because of the 39 girls or the exercise or the fun of it.

One of his more interesting classes is called "Stage Combat" where he learns about theatrical fighting. After his first day of class, I asked him excitedly, "So how are you doing tonight?"

"I'm sore."


"Because we spent the stage combat class time slapping each other!"

I laughed merrily. His classes sound like a huge amount of fun. He's able to make mistakes there that don't make me cringe because I can't see them. He's learning new things. No doubt about it, this time in his life is so darn cool.

I realized this morning that I was viewing his life as if I were driving in a car down the road, and looking back in the rear view mirror.

You see, I only remember chunks of my childhood and teen years, and truthfully, I walked a path that my sons will never follow. They'll never grow up on a farm as I did in my early childhood.  I lived my teen years in a lakeside home; they have to drive to just go swimming. I am female; their male experiences are quite different. Disco was popular when I was in my teens. Hip hop is their dance music. The list of our different life experiences go on and on.

Yet I find myself glancing backwards in my rear view mirror as they travel down the road in life to see how they handle teenage love, high school classes, and now, going away to school. It's not quite like going off to college, but somewhat. The road, of course, is different for our boys, and watching how they handle "the road of life" is enthralling. I'm probably even more fascinated with Oldest's theater experiences because I started in performing arts when I went off to college, then took an abrupt turn left. His road in theather might actually go forward.

That's what led me to my morning epiphany. It's all right to glance back at our childrens' experiences. Where it gets to be an issue is when it encompasses my own life. Just as driving down the road requires you to glance behind you on occasion, it's critical to keep your eyes focused ahead. I can see how quickly a mother can get caught up in the lives of her children so much that her own journey gets side tracked. You know these kinds of women. Remember the mom who bought the billboard for her daughter when she was running for queen? Or how about the one who murdered a cheerleader in her daughter's class? These are fools who live with their eyes so focused on the rear view mirror that they end up driving off the road completely.

I realize now that while it's great for me to enjoy my children's experiences, I still have future adventures of my own. It's equally as important for my sons to see me toodle off down my own path as it is for me to enjoy their journey. It's a lulling thing, looking back on a path that's familiar,  but it's fatal to both driver and the people coming behind. It also makes for a lousy role model.

It's both liberating and overwhelming to realize that I need to establish a new life roadmap: one that involves my family and yet gives me a course that's right for me. I don't mean just in a job, but spiritually, travel-wise, in adventure, and ways I haven't even yet comtemplated. It's more than establishing a "bucket list" to do before age 100. It's knowing the journey ahead will be filled with adventure. And that's a wonderful thought as I turn my eyes back ahead on the road.