I shared this with a few folks already via e-mail but I thought it deserved a wider audience. (Also, for those of you who have already seen it, I'm adding a bit more at the end. OK, a lot more.)
Two days ago, Rhys was in the bathroom, as he often is, accompanying himself with song.
I transcribed as he sang:
"Hi! My name is--what?--
My name is--what?--
My name is shakey-shakey-shakey-bla-bla
So yesterday as we tooled around running a variety of errands, I asked Rhys if he would like to hear Eminem. (Sad was the day when Rhys grew up enough to stop calling him "M&Ms.") Of course he would, Mama!
We cued up "My Name Is" first. Rhys listened intently to the first line, "Hey kids! Do you like violence?" and asked me "Mama, isn't violence bad?"
Ah, the dilemma of the non-censorious parent. We have a policy of providing 100%-honest answers to any questions our kids ask, and we listen to pretty much exactly the same music when they're around as we do when they're not (Peaches being a notable exception). So they probably hear all kinds of wildly inappropriate things that are probably scarring their impressionable brains in ways we can't even imagine. (But at least their brains aren't being scarred by Kids Bop. That is where we draw the line.)
Let's see. How could I make a teaching moment out of this? Ah--inspiration! I put the song back to the beginning and asked Rhys to listen hard to the first few lines. (If you're not familiar with the Eminem genre, they go like this: "Hey kids, do you like violence? (Yeah! Yeah!)/Wanna see me stick nine inch nails through each one of my eyelids? (Uh-huh!)/ Wanna copy me and do exactly like I did? (Yeah!)/ Try 'cid and get fucked up worse than my life is? (Huh?)")
"What do you think he's telling the kids to do, Rhys?" I asked.
"Ummm... I don't know." (Stock Rhys response.)
"Is he telling them they should do bad stuff and watch him do bad things?"
"I think so." (Moment of thought.) "But maybe he doesn't really want them to do that, because the kids in that song sound stupid."
Cue a conversation about peer pressure, sarcasm, and the urge to perform. I introduced the phrase "cautionary tale." Rhys offered, as an example of a sarcastic statement, "Look, Mama, a moth... your faaaavorite insect." (Mama has a legendary horror of moths. Not butterflies, just moths.)
So having turned "My Name Is" into some semblance of educational material, we went on to "Lose Yourself" and the idea of having to do something you're absolutely terrified of doing in order to succeed. (Rhys: "I can imagine getting so scared I would throw up. I hate throwing up." N.B.: I don't remember Rhys ever actually throwing up, not since he was an urpy three-month-old.)
*The correct response is either "Slim Shady, you a basehead" or "Nothing, you idiots, Dr. Dre's dead! He's locked in my basement!" Neither of which I have figured out how to turn into a Teaching Moment.