Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Kids Are Alright

As I was watching the news (meaning, of course, The Today Show - I prefer that all my current events be interspersed with cooking demos) this morning, I got pulled into a "report" about a growing trend among new parents. They called these parents "grupsters," which I suppose is some combination of hipster and ... I don't know. Grown-up, maybe, except the point of the label was that it identified parents who were doing their best to avoid the irrevocably adult duties of child-rearing. Although really, it just seemed like they were talking about people who were trying to interlace parenting with their own identities, which in most cases appeared to be "aging college radio DJ."

The pictures painted of these parents were mixed. Some looked like regular yet enviably hip folks who just wanted to expose their kids to a wider variety of cultural (and pop cultural) experiences. Others, however, seemed so determined to avoid the faintest whiff of mainstream babyness that their goals were on the polar opposite but nonetheless extreme side of the stage mother/sports dad spectrum. Although funnier, because they didn't seem to see the irony of trying to force their toddlers to be punk.

There was an all-around rabid opinion against big purple dinosaurs and Australian pseudo-bands, with these parents preferring disco dance parties to Saturday morning cartoons. And while I relate to that leaning, it did get me to thinking about whether or not it's a great idea to push small children completely away from kid-friendly culture and into our own. Maybe all that stuff is intolerably bland for good reason. In a world that's got to be completely overwhelming about 90% of the time, what would best refresh a tiny brain - a plinky little ditty about tying your shoes or, I don't know, Lou Reed? I'm not at all opposed to little kids listening to music that wasn't specifically packaged for them, but it seems a bit rigid to completely shun anything that was designed to appeal to their developing artistic sweet spots. (Full disclosure: Miss M's current favorite album is Bob Dylan's Modern Times, but I'm pretty sure she doesn't understand the metaphors about Hurricane Katrina and economic discrimination.)

The story was summed up by two dads, one of whom said, "The baby has entered our world, we haven't entered his," and another who said (essentially; give me a break, I already remembered one quote), "There's no way around the fact that having a child changes your life." Although I've had my own grupster tendencies, I have to admit that Second Dad is right. Or righter, anyway. Yeah, I'd rather take my baby to Music For Aardvarks than Kindermusik, or better yet, to a real show like Rock n'Romp, but when Friday night rolls around and I have to choose between dragging a cranky pre-schooler out to a coffeehouse concert or cuddling up on the couch to watch Cinderella for the 119th time, my hipmama cred gets put on hold.


Unknown said...

I've been trying for years to avoid the faint whiff of babyness over here.

Chip said...

I've had thoughts along these lines too. I wonder, for example, why Connor gravitated towards Dora and Little Bear while I think those shows are eminently dorky. Then I realized-- this is HIS taste here, and who am I to force my jaded, (very slightly) hipster tastes upon him?

The Saucier said...

If it's hurricanes she wants, switch her over to Dylan's Desire. You're never too young to learn the tragic story of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.

Sassy Molassy said...

I love Little Bear. I really do.

I always find it humorous when people seem to believe that putting their kid in purple rain boots when it's dry out and giving them a fauxhawk in order to reflect the parental coolness happening there is in any way different than clipping on a big bow that matches the hand-appliqued boutique outfit that cost $150.

If you still haven't figured out that your taste in music, clothes, movies, etc. really does not prove that you are the shizzy, then you probably were not mature enough to have kids in the first place.

Stacey Greenberg said...

hipster + "grup"

grup comes from a star trek episode, which yes, is a condensed form of grown up.

made popular by new york mag last year: