"Hey, you know what Sunday night is?" my 11-year-old daughter shouted to me from the family room late last week. I knew she was spending one of her last carefree mornings of summer break fiddling around on-line. "Does 'Fred' have a new video out?" I ventured a guess. "My gosh Mom, that series hasn't been on in years," she admonished. "But the actor in it did just announce he was gay on You Tube."
I am clearly not up on what's going down with Internet stars under the age of 21. I am also clearly not up on what's going on with stars over the age of 21 either. Because according to my daughter the big event she was looking forward to on this past Sunday night was the 30th annual MTV's Video Music Awards.
The VMAs have been around for three decades? Wow. That means there are thousands of mothers and fathers running around the greater Madison area who have never known an entertainment world that didn't include the Moonman statue, a shocking Madonna/Britney Spears moment, or the opportunity for Lady Gaga to sport a caftan built for carnivores. This cohort of parents -- who have grown up in the age of music video relevancy -- have a generational name. They are called Millenials. And the VMAs, I always figured, were for them.
I am quite a few years younger than Madonna (who appeared on the award show's inaugural broadcast in 1984), but am probably a more typical example than the Material Girl of mothers born in the '50s or '60s. I am either a very young Baby Boomer or a very old Gen Xer. MTV didn't launch until I was already in high school. So if video killed the radio star, it did so well after my pop music coming of age. And up until last Sunday night, I'd never watched the Oscars of music videos live.
My daughter was born in 2002. "Total Request Live" went off the air when she was in still in kindergarten, so she's never known MTV to be the place to go for music videos. And to date (thankfully) she's shown no interest in watching "Teen Mom," "Catfish," or any of the other semi-disturbing reality shows that appear to make up the bulk of the network's current programming. So her palpable excitement for the MTV awards show kind of surprised me.
When asked though why she was so excited about watching it, my daughter replied, "There's a rumor that N'Sync may be getting back together. And I kind of like the oldies." We made plans to watch.
Fortunately I didn't need to end up censoring the Artist Formerly Known As Hannah Montana or any of Kevin Hart's crass but not-even-a-little-bit funny humor. Because my daughter, clearly underwhelmed (and confused) by the Lady Gaga opener, promptly fell asleep as soon as the show went to commercial break. She missed Taylor Swift's f-bomb and didn't get to see such lofty superlatives awarded as "Best Video with a Social Message" or the "Song of the Summer." With categories like that, I kind of expected some recognition for best use of a cat in a music video. Or at least a best foreign language video award tailor-made for PSY.
No, I guess you could say I wasn't particularly impressed. But I still couldn't bring myself to turn the TV off and ended up watching straight through the over-the-top (under the bridge?) Katy Perry finale.
As expected, when my daughter woke up Monday morning she asked first thing to see the much-hyped reunion and I showed her all 110 seconds of it online. "That was it?" she asked. "N'Sync didn't even sing a whole song," she said with a tone of bitter disappointment.
So I explained to her that sometimes things, like awards shows and boy band reunions, are just about creating buzz. They are about having something silly to distract us from much more serious world issues. And giving pop stars an award show to which they are allowed to wear jeans.
I told her that there were many people who enjoyed hyping the reunion of five cute singers they had adored in their youth. But many didn't want to spend too much time actually watching four of the same five guys, all likely pushing 40, perform.
The Millenials have probably known all along that the VMAs are more about gawking at the Miley-like train wrecks than spending a few minutes with the more "classic" models.
But the show has definitely turned off one 11-year-old member of Generation Z and her Gen X mom. I guess we'll never be a part of Generation MTV. And I can't help but wonder when a decade from now a Millennial mom sits down with her pre-teen daughter to watch the You Tube Video Awards how she will explain Beliebers or twerking during the inevitable Justin/Miley reunion duet.
Which will come right after the Fred lifetime achievement award.comments powered by Disqus
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.
"I'm envious, mom," said my twelve-year-old daughter as she hopped in the car after theater camp last week. "All the other kids in my group seem to really like, and to be really good at, singing, dancing and acting. But I think all those things are just okay."
"People are looking to book space here all the time," says Remy Fernández-O'Brien, communications and facilities coordinator for the Lussier Community Education Center, a private, nonprofit community center on Madison's west side. "They want to throw their child's first birthday party here or hold a Girl Scout meeting. We're really busy year-round, but it's especially lively here in the summer."
Last week, in response to the county-wide Sleep Safe, Sleep Well public health campaign that encourages parents to "share the room, not the bed" with their sleeping infants, Isthmus contributor Ruth Conniff penned a lovely opinion piece in defense of bed sharing entitled "Confessions of a Co-Sleeper."
As much as I'd like to believe there is latent genius in my daughter's early finger paintings, I'm pretty sure her works are not distinguishable from those created by the pointer fingers and pinkies of thousands of other children from across the world.
Seeing Romeo and Juliet this past weekend was a definite reminder that I need to prepare for something that might resemble a (near) West Side Story around our place pretty soon.
All during childhood, we calmly tell our kids they don't need to be afraid of the dark, thunder or the monster under the bed. But it's pretty hard to keep your parental cool when your kid is about to embark on the one thing that terrifies you. I knew the problem wasn't really with him. It was with me.
Last January, when temperatures dipped below minus 30 and most people between the ages of 16 and 24 did anything to stay inside, a small yet sturdy group of at-risk teenage boys and young men stacked wood and managed controlled burns at Festge County Park near Cross Plains. Five months later, following a temperature swing of more than 100 degrees, Isthmus found some of those same guys removing invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn at Lake View Hill County Park on Madison's north side.
The first week of summer break at our place usually comes and goes without incident. At times, one could argue, it even verges on pleasant. I have no school lunches to pack and the kids have no 7 a.m. buses to catch.
Have you tried getting anywhere on either Verona Road or East Johnson lately? I'm pretty sure a six-month old could crawl to Fitchburg, or across the isthmus, in less time that it takes me to drive there these days.
As soon as the door closed behind him, I poured myself a cup of the coffee he had made and took a moment to let the enormity of what just happened sink in. My son was ready that morning despite my inability to properly set an alarm clock. My kid was ready that morning without nudging, cajoling, or reminding. He was ready, even when I wasn't.