An ad caught my attention the other day because it was one of the few aimed at parents that had nothing to do with laxatives, laundry soap or morning breath.
It seems every sales pitch - from cars to $90 gym shoes - is geared toward kids. This one was different. It showed a dad holding a karaoke player microphone in his hand. The copy read, "Trouble getting your kids to leave the nest? Introducing Pioneer's Laser Karaoke Players." As Dad warbles "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" (it says so in another box), a teenager nearby is grabbing his head in pain.Now, there's a twist.
For years I thought the only way to get away from your kids' music was to get your own apartment and leave the house to them. It never occurred to me I had a chance of fighting back.
This ammunition is without limits. How long would a kid hang around - even for free food - if he had to listen to Dad sing along with Lawrence Welk's accordion player grinding out "Lady of Spain" for three hours nonstop?
For a while my husband and I had control over the electronics. That's because we were bigger than our kids. The moment we got into the family car, arms would reach over the front seat and little fingers would begin to adjust the radio dials and the volume.
Our speech was always the same. "When you grow up and get your own car, you can play your own music, but as long as you're on our turf, you listen to ours."
Kids who hear this speech during their youth are the ones who grow up to drive pickup trucks from which you can hear the thump thump of the bass on their car radios when they are two traffic lights behind you.
The house was not so simple. When I pounded on their bedroom doors to insist they lower the volume because the foundation of the house was developing cracks, they shouted back, "It's my room!"
Kids will suffer the maximum humiliation just to live at home and save money. They will carry their plate to the kitchen sink after a meal. They will share a bathroom with the rest of the family. They will sometimes even close the front door without being told. But try to tell them when to play their music and how loud to play it, and it's goodbye, cooperation, hello, deafness.
I love the idea of Goldie Oldie Karaoke Torture. Call me cold, but I feel no compassion for kids who play music at 86 decibels that sounds like they are running guitar strings across my brain.
I can't wait to sing "I Could Have Danced All Night" and encourage them to sing along.