"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
I have just returned from a whirlwind, five-day, four-city college tour with my son. You know those "101 Things to Know Before Visiting Disney World" guidebooks that experienced theme park travelers have written to help the uninitiated? I think I am now officially seasoned enough in information sessions and campus tours to give some serious thought to penning a similar "insiders guide" for the junior-year parent.
This past week, against both my will and better judgement, I accompanied 50 or so middle school kids to the Future Problem Solvers Wisconsin State Bowl, a popular academic and skit-writing competition.
It may be a bigger waste of breath than electricity to ask my kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room. If I've nagged them once, I've nagged them a thousand times. No, I've never noticed anything amiss with their fingers. But it appears they are physically incapable of flipping a switch to the "off" position.
I want to say thank you to the Board of Education for allowing Maia to return to class, unquestionably the place she belongs, as well as to thank them for adopting the new policies. But just as importantly, I also want to thank Maia and her family for their willingness to come forward with their story.
Some clever-clogs is playing Rachmaninoff on the piano at a party, and there it is again, that oft-heard adult lament of lost opportunity from a dejected onlooker: "I wish I could play. I wish my parents hadn't let me quit music lessons. I was just a kid -- how was I to know?" It's a reasonable complaint.
If you're checking out summer camps for your child, there are many issues -- some obvious, some less so -- to keep in mind. Here's a list to keep handy when you contact camps and camp directors, looking for the perfect spot for your kids to have fun, relax, and learn this summer.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that my kid issues, when it comes to dining out, absolutely pale in comparison to those of parents whose kids have special needs. Many kids, especially those who are on the autism spectrum, are disturbed by changes in their routine, or anxious around noisy places. They may not be able tolerate waiting for a table or standing in line. So unfortunately, many of these families just avoid eating out at restaurants altogether.
It's weird to admit this, especially in a city surrounded by as much outdoor beauty as Madison. But frankly, I'm just not that into nature. I'm more of an indoor kind of gal. Give me an afternoon at the Chazen or the Wisconsin Historical Museum over the Arboretum or Olbrich Gardens any day.
Lavish costumes, gorgeous sets, a full orchestra and a concession stand where nothing cost more than two bucks and you have a pitch perfect experience at the theater. Oh, and did I mention the ticket prices were just $10 dollars apiece? One could afford to take the whole family for a live theater experience for less than an evening at the Lego movie would cost including popcorn.
I think the first time in recent years that I've felt a real sense of shame, as both a parent and community member, was last Tuesday evening as I sat in a crowded elementary school LMC to listen to Ken Taylor, executive director of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, and his colleague, Torry Wynn, present key findings from the 2013 Race to Equity report to our PTO group.
It's Wednesday morning at Allis Elementary School on Madison's east side, and 16 third-graders -- 10 boys and six girls -- enter into an open-space classroom in typical wiggly, giggly style. Some are making goofy faces at one another, some are bouncing around hand-in-hand with friends, and others are just trying to stay out of the whirling-dervish path of activity.
Of the 789 poorly-composed, way-too-dark and out-of-focus photos currently living on my iPhone, I can count on two hands the number that show my kids and me together. And my husband is in probably no more than three or four of those.
Something kind of magical has happened these past two weeks during the Sochi Olympics. There is no question, debate or disagreement on what will be watched on television once all homework is done. Everyone in the family makes time to sit down together to watch an hour of so of the primetime televised games.
Truth be told, though, this month I'm feeling a bit cinematically fried. In some ways, I already feel like I've spent the last week or so at a film festival. A festival specializing in minute-long glimpses of ordinary lives all ending with credits that feature the ubiquitous blue thumbs-up. Yes, it's been the February of the Facebook movie.
Just last week, on precisely the same day the Momastery post was getting over a million well-deserved views, Madison mom Suzanne Buchko was telling a similar story. Not on a blog but instead in the confines of the modestly circulated Franklin-Randall Elementary School weekly newsletter.
Late last month, the Madison Metropolitan School District adopted a five-year, $27.7 million technology plan calling for all district students, including those in the primary grades, to have significantly increased access to their very own tablet or notebook computer by 2019. Some parents, as well as education professionals, questioned whether elementary-aged kids, especially kindergarteners who aren't even able to read or write yet, will gain much benefit from introducing yet another screen into their lives.
This past Monday, had winter's unrelenting weather allowed, Middleton Cross Plains School District teacher Andrew Harris would have once again been at the helm of a classroom. After nearly four years of fighting his dismissal from Glacier Creek Middle School for viewing and passing on sexually explicit material on district computers, MCPSD has been legally forced to reinstate Herris, this time as a seventh-grade science teacher at Kromrey Middle School.
In a study published last week by the National Bureau of Economic Research, academics have found that the 16 and Pregnant series may have played a significant role in the recent decrease in U.S. teen pregnancies.
In our house, sad but true, we've rarely spent the Martin Luther King holiday discussing race, social justice or the power of non-violent civil disobedience. Instead, the third Monday in January has historically been treated as just another day off school, just another long weekend. And it's been a missed opportunity.
It's not something that happens very often, but last Friday, as news of the impending arctic cold snap reached our house, my kids were rooting for Governor Scott Walker. They were rooting for him to take Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton's lead and cancel school throughout the state. They couldn't care less if he had the authority to do such a thing -- if he called off school, he'd be their hero.