Parental Super Powers…yes, we have them…

This house is bigger.  Sound has farther to travel than at the other house.  Never mind that the floorboards are creaky, the walls not as thick as we’d like them to be…sound takes longer to reach me.  This, however, has not dulled my powers of sensing when something is…I guess the word for it would be “awry.”

Like any other parent on the face of this planet, I can sense inactivity, laziness, mischief, surreptitious snacking, middle-of-the-night roaming…  There are times when I know what J is planning by merely catching a fleeting expression on his face.  There are other times when I have no clue what he’s thinking, but my Holmes-like powers of deduction and my very suspicious nature allow me to figure out he’s up to no good.  The Sephardim genes don’t hurt either; even though our Jewishness diluted sometime around the Spanish Inquisition (although I DO believe it was that one of my ancestors tried pork, which is even worse than having chickened out under Torquemada’s pressure,) I still think that I know when people need sweaters or to have their temperature taken…

By the way, J didn’t seem “right” this morning and Dada had to rush to get him from school because of an earache.  Allow me to define “earache,” please: J’s ears are notoriously waxy, and he is totally traumatized from the time the ENT had to remove earplugs that his teacher had jammed too far into his ears.  Cleaning J’s ears is a task I do not take lightly, and today they were bothering him enough that he’s letting me do it in installments.

As proud as I am of those particular Parental Super Powers I have mentioned, perhaps my greatest pride rests on my uncanny ability to say NO.  That’s, hands down, my favorite PSS.  I’ve been using it for years and, like all other superheroes, I have moments when it doesn’t quite work, but every superhero has his/her kryptonite and I can live with NO failing from time to time.  NO may verbally fail, but there are other ways where NO takes shape and is always effective…  The older the kids get, the less NO comes trotting out, stomping its nasty, enormous feet over everything, but it does turn up once in a while.  It has to turn up.  It’s what parents say, isn’t it?

J and NO are very close to each other.  J even initiates the NO when my facial expression seems to hint at it, and his rate of accuracy for anticipating a flat-out NO is pretty darned good.  In baseball, he’d probably be close to Hank Aaron.  Maybe it’s because I have an ease for saying NO, or maybe it’s because (over time) the kids have realized that NO isn’t just a random word that lacks weight and meaning…

And here we go with Miley Cyrus…yeah, that’s what I’m building up to, people.

We don’t watch MTV.  Honestly, I haven’t watched MTV since the early 90s.  When they started airing things like The Real World, I realized that it was outside my generational comfort zone.  It’s a little like suddenly watching Pretty Little Liars at my age, or being a fan of Twilight when I don’t have daughters.  It’s just not right for me, not that it wouldn’t be right for other people, but that’s just not the way I’m wired.

Anyway.  At one point, J liked watching Hannah Montana (this lasted about six weeks,) and The Wizards of Waverly Place.  I totally get the Good Luck, Charlie thing because those parents are very similar to us as parents.  But I have never really encouraged the kids to be glued to whatever show is on and, furthermore, to idolize the people in them when the expiration date on their characters is long past.  I’ve never had qualms about telling either kid “you’re too young to watch that” and sticking to my decision.  For example, The Godfather (and all its sequels.)  TGG protested quite vocally about my firm decision to not let him watch this movie until he turned fourteen.  I’d already had to deal with the consequences of his biological father allowing things like Alien and The Mummy when he was about 8…Signs had been a complete and utter disaster at 11, and I figured that -if Sci Fi was an issue- more “real” fare would be even worse.  I can rationally diffuse fears over a monster, alien or mummy under the bed much better than I can explain that there ARE mobsters in real life and, yes, crime is committed every single day in this world.  When he finally got to watch The Godfather, TGG was impacted by the violence because, while still in costume, these people operated in a world very similar to the one we occupy.

Now…why on Earth would anyone let their children a) watch the MTV VMA show, b) encourage viewing any celebrity as a role model, or c) raise a stink about Miley Cyrus’ uncouth behavior?  Where, for crying out loud, is the power of NO???

Let’s start with my opinion of Robin Thicke’s song Blurred Lines.  It’s not Art, as he has claimed; if you have to explain your intent, it’s no longer Art.  It’s not a “conversation starter,” and you can’t take back things like “What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.”  Even if your wife suggested the nudity in the video; even if your wife thinks it’s cool; even if you claim you were joking, the video’s director and the models all say it’s empowering…it’s not.  You laid a big ol’ cow pie and people turned it into a hit because it’s hip and cool to be controversial.  Controversial isn’t “smart” unless there’s actual thought behind it…know what I mean?

So, not having watched this show (because I am way past the MTV point in my life,) I had not a single clue about this stink until I saw Mika Brzezinski blow a gasket about it on TV.  Not once, mind you, Ms. Brzezinski blew a gasket repeatedly.  Her daughters are high-school age, if I’m not mistaken, and if she lets them watch MTV, that’s her choice, but…Ms. Brzezinski is only a couple of years younger than I am and SHOULD know that the MTV VMA show is usually rife with Britney Spears and Madonna French-kissing, Howard Stern exposing his derriere and farting, Britney Spears with a large python coiled all over her body (a clear phallic reference,) Madonna writhing all over the floor in a wedding gown singing “Like a Virgin,” and so forth.  THIS is NOT a family show, and no one should be even remotely shocked to see Miley Cyrus “empowered” by no longer being a Disney kid and performing with a man -who mere weeks ago- was calling himself an artist and saying he was “starting a discussion” with his song.

How about a little more NO and a little less harping on where we’ve failed to draw a line?  Who hasn’t noticed that Miley Cyrus has been proactively (and rather immaturely) pursuing the shedding of her Hannah Montana persona?  Who expects her to come out in a pinafore and sing Over the Rainbow at the MTV VMA show?  Who, who has been paying attention, doesn’t know that this no-longer-a-child is always scantily clad, sticking her tongue out and pretending to kiss mannequins?

TV is what it is because WE WATCH!  The so-called Arts are what they are because we buy the songs, tune in to shows, pay tickets for movies.  WE have made it OK for Freedom of Speech to happen, and THAT is a good thing…


(There IS a but, of course)

Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean we have to relinquish the Super Power of the Parental NO.  Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean we get to denounce what we don’t approve of simply because we weren’t paying attention before it happened.  MTV rated this show unsuitable for children under 14, that doesn’t mean “let your fourteen year-olds watch without supervision.”  Joe Scarborough suggested that they tag a warning to the show that says “there might be objectionable material.”  As parents, we should always operate under the premise that there WILL be something objectionable, and scale back depending on circumstances.

It’s not just J who benefits from the power of NO.  It’s not just J, with his limited abilities to decide for himself, who needs some sort of vigilance on our part.  Every kid deserves that kind of attention; every kid needs that sort of filter.  Intelligent, seemingly-mature, seemingly-sophisticated though they may be, they deserve to be guided and protected by the Parental Super Powers until we know they are ready for us to face the kryptonite of actual maturity and readiness for certain experiences…

Blowing a gasket in disgust over spilled milk is pretty silly when you know the container is flawed and the person carrying it has their hands covered in Crisco…

Just say NO, and accept your lack of popularity as yet another Parental Super Power…used for The Greater Good, regardless of how well the sound of it will travel through your house.




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