In Shocking Turn, Child Allows Parents to Select Music in Car
Mommy immediately plays “Express Yourself”; kid rocks out
When I bought our car, I debated for three days whether or not to add a “premium package” that included a sunroof and a nicer sound system. In order to make a rational decision about this, I played out the pros and cons. In the “cons” column, I told myself, were the increased lease costs, the additional moving part in the roof of my car that would go unused at best and leaky at worst, and the clear delusion that I would listen to any music at all in this car that would benefit from a subwoofer. In the “pros” column was a beaten-down middle-aged former drum-and-bass DJ who just wanted to drive down the highway—any highway—with the sunroof open, blasting vintage Dillinja tunes.
The pros, reader, won the day, but the war has gone to the child. As long-time readers will recall, Kina is a devoted fan of two Disney franchises—Frozen and Moana—and is particularly fond of three songs from those movies: “Let It Go”, “Into the Unknown”, and “I Am Moana (Song of the Ancestors)”. On most days that we drive, the very first thing she asks for is one of those three songs, and she does not stop asking for those three songs until we park. My ten-speaker Bose sound system—the crown of my Premium Package—renders those three songs, and only those three songs, with exquisite clarity and depth. At the same time, any consolation afforded me by the sunroof is dashed, as Kina typically demands that I keep it sealed shut so that she can better hear her songs. As a compulsive music listener, I admire her conviction, but this is otherwise a deeply demoralizing situation.
And yet, yesterday, as we pulled out of the parking lot at the Japanese market in Sunset Park, Kina asked out of nowhere if Laurea would like to play a song, which rendered both of us temporarily speechless. Laurea, who has long since given up having any sort of agency over the music played in our car, had no idea where to start. Somewhere in her mind was a long list of songs she had hoped someday to play—perhaps when Kina was headed off to college—but she could not locate that list. Graciously, Kina offered that perhaps Mommy would like to play a song by Madonna; she knows her mother well. Laurea cued up “Express Yourself” and turned up the volume. As we drove down the Hamilton Avenue underpass, I opened up the sunroof, looking in the rear-view mirror to see both Kina and Laurea with their eyes closed, Kina’s fist raised. It was a Thanksgiving miracle. As the track faded out, I looked expectantly at Kina, who granted me permission to play my beloved Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack for the rest of the ride home. It wasn’t quite the bone-shaking midlife crisis music I had imagined, but I had the sunroof open and I wasn’t being forced to sing the role of Moana’s grandmother for a change.
Today, we continued the turn-taking approach to music, watching Kina carefully as we worked through the greatest hits: “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses, “Hideaway” by Kiesza, “Manic Monday” by The Bangles, and Kina’s beloved “Let It Go”. As long as her Disney hits make up 33% of the playlist, Laurea and I now have free rein to navigate our personal radio histories. It’s been nearly a year since we had this kind of input into Kina’s musical tastes, and while our own tastes have shifted somewhat to meet Kina where she is, it’s good to be able to explore again and maybe get my money’s worth out of that sunroof.
Today’s Parade is a Laurea solo joint. Kina’s commission, blurted out in the middle of an episode of She-Ra, was simple: “Turkey leg and Christmas tree”. I think Laurea really captured this transitional moment, and its wistfulness, quite well.