Bad, Bad Leroy Brown

A couple of weeks ago, I was forced to install a series of sanctions after the joy of listening to music while transporting teenagers began to have crippling effects on our well-being! This did not go over well with the troops – they were already not pleased by the ban on texting while driving.

I fully acknowledge my role as ‘chauffeur’, but listening to the radio with a car full of my offspring felt like driving through a war zone: I was constantly bombarded with the erratic changing of station, tricky fingers laying road bombs in the middle of songs I enjoyed, escalating arguments between siblings over the quality of performers and the most egregious  infraction - ’making fun of those of us who like to sing with the music!’

VW Bug 1970

Morning drives were also highjacked by crazy ‘entertainment’ on popular radio stations: Gossip blogger Perez Hilton slamming actors with details of their affairs and drug scandals, Ryan’s (Seacrest) Roses, a radio show where Ryan would help young women reveal their cheating boyfriends. Definitely not a healthy way to start the day.

VW Vans 1969

When I was young, I fondly recall that our drives were accompanied by John Denver, Emmy Lou Harris, Dolly Parton, and Jim Croce (or musicals like Annie and Chorus Line) playing frequently from the 8Tracks in my mother’s station wagon. We listened to what our parents played, and if we made fun of our parents being out of date or listening to this music, we  did not do it in front of them. I can still hear Croce’s Bad, Bad Leroy Brown (click on the blue letters for a taste of 1976!)

Station Wagon from 1976

I love music and I encourage my kids to listen to music, but the incessant battling forced me to declare a cease-fire outlawing popular music stations and promoting different opportunities  - (1) Sitting in Silence, (2) Talking, or (3) Listening to NPR.

VW Collection from the 1970s

For starters, ‘Sitting in Silence’ was not really an option for my family. We excel in ‘Talking’ and uninterrupted drive time proved to result in healthy conversations and calmer children.

‘Listening to NPR’ was also a great solution: hearing world news and interesting stories that perhaps my flesh and blood could learn from, causing them to ask questions, and hopefully making them aware of the larger world beyond songs about getting stoned, swearing, having sex, promoting hate, wanting to kill, or being burned by boyfriends.

The cease-fire was holding strong until a couple of weeks later when my older son quickly connected his iPhone to the car stereo and played the Beatles. All of a sudden, everyone was happily in accord!

I had to appreciate that this Armistice was reached by the very soldiers who’s incessant battles were the reason for these crippling sanctions in the first place!

Ninja Mom






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