Could it be that the more clueless your mom is about popular culture, the better parent she is? It’s certainly possible . . . but I hope not! This essay originally appeared on MomsCharlotte on Charlotte. com
MOM AND POP
When I was a teenager, my brother and I had a game where we would bestow “cool points” on my mom for demonstrating that she had the tiniest clue what century it was. Recognize Bon Jovi on the radio? 100 cool points. The habit of buying my jeans a size too large while nothing got between Brooke Shields and her Calvins? Negative 200 cool points.
While we would laugh endlessly at how out of touch mom was, now it occurs to me that the joke was mostly on us. Mom may have seemed like an oblivious alien when she wouldn’t let us drink Coke EVER and banned slasher movies and nixed the then-current fashion of high heels and skin-tight jeans, but actually those things were pretty spot on.
Could it be that the more clueless your mom is about pop culture, the better parent she is?
It’s certainly possible (think of the Amy Poehler “cool mom” from Mean Girls) – but I hope not. Now that I am over 40 and a mom, I suspect it’s time to take my rightful place in the natural order of things and begin ranting about all that is wrong with television, music, movies, technology, and everything else floating down the mainstream. But I can’t.
Because I love that bubble gum for the brain – even as I appreciate the instinct to shield my kids from its “swirling the drain” tendencies. The pure pleasure I receive from moments stolen away with a People magazine may be a bit pathetic, but there you are. Clearly, someone who DVRs every Real Housewives series is not in a position to judge.
Of course, you can be totally clued in to current trends but not want inappropriate mess to infiltrate what you find acceptable for your family. The “you are your kids’ parent, not their friend” idea makes a lot of sense to me.
But here’s the thing: I see the possibilities to connect with my kids around this stuff. It may not make sense, but I can tell my street cred regarding life in general improves when I am in the know about the things that speak to them. The person who rocks out Can’t Beat Cassidy on Kiss 95.1FM every morning in the car by answering critical questions about the Kardashian clan or Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber might also be someone who knows a thing or two about peer pressure or school anxiety or challenges with friends.
And while you could reasonably argue that for popular culture to be popular it has to appeal to the lowest common moral or intellectual denominator, another way to look at it is that popular culture offers something for everyone.
Consider a recent exchange on Twitter. Disgusted that he’d heard Idina Menzel referred to as “the girl from Frozen,” someone said, “She’s . . . Maureen from Rent, people. Pull it together.” Immediately several tweets exclaimed “Elphaba!” and, “She’s wickedly Elphaba.”
Someone then wrote, “Oh, you mean Rachel’s mom from Glee?”
If they heard her voice, my boys would say she’s the lady that sings Let It Go, the Oscar-winning song co-written by someone who went to their school. They would puff up a little bit at that, and look pensive at the possibilities the connection suggests for them.
In life, what seems beautiful or relevant or demented or worthless is often in the eye of the beholder. Experiencing pop life with my kids gives me the chance to glimpse the world through their eyes. And for a mom, that’s worth too many cool points to even count.