Monday, April 5, 2010

When in doubt, mumble.

The above piece of advice is how my 11 year old, Thing 1, gets through the day. When asking my wife or I for permission to do something she knows we will reject, she tends to mumble her way through the request, hoping that by hearing only every other word, we will get only a scrubbed-version of what she wants to do and thus rubber-stamp it.

Example: "I want to *something something* with my friends, can I?

"What? Speak up, please."

"I want to show my friends this really cool website on our computer, can all 5 of them come in?


Saturday was one such day where she made a valiant attempt to get something past us. I was on the phone with my sister-in-law (my younger, hipper SIL, the wife of my brother). She has a fairly strong finger on the pulse of pop culture, so when Thing 1 iinterrupted our conversation and asked for permission to buy a song called "How Low" from iTunes, I asked her if she was familiar with the song. Needing more info, I asked T1 for the name of the artist. "Curtis, or LaCurtis, or something like that.

I relayed this info to the SIL, and she advised that she was not familiar with any artist named Curtis/LaCurtis, nor a song called "How low." Thus, I told T1 that it would have to wait until I could check out the lyrics. Upon telling this, she protested by saying, "But mom told me I could download the song once she checked out the lyrics!"

"The fact that you are asking me suggests she has either not done so, correct?" I asked.

"No, she hasn't," she replied.

"Then I will check them out later and let you know." T1 told me she had the song (music/lyrics only, not the video) up on Youtube and I was welcome to check them out when I was done talking.

Once I finished talking to the SIL, I went into the office and looked at the screen. The title of the song was "How Low," by the singer we all know better as LUDACRIS. At that point, I already made my decision, but so that I wouldn't be accused of passing judgment too quickly, I checked out the lyrics. Here's an excerpt:

She could go lower than I ever really thought she could,
Face down, ass up!
The top of your booty jiggling out your jeans,
Baby pull your pants up,
I like it when I see you do it,
Better then I ever seen it done before,
A lot of women drop it to the ground,
But how low can you go?

(Lyrics by Ludacris)

Would you like to guess how far I read before I made my final decision?

I wouldn't suggest that this song is *as* bad as "Low" by Flo Rida, but I think I have a strong statistical case that any hip hop song with "Low" in the title is not appropriate for an 11 year old girl. (Says the man who loaded a Who greatest hits compilation onto Thing 1's iPod, which included the song "Squeeze Box," a song that is one giant sexual innuendo...but one that Thing 1 will not realize until she's in her 20's).


  1. Haha. The mumbling technique is always worth a try, even as an adult. It’s also a useful test of whether the person you’re addressing is paying attention to you.

  2. Simon, I think your nieces are around that age. If they're talking to Uncle Simon and their voice trails off in mid-sentence, they're hiding something. Channel the German inside you and extract the necessary info and deliver it to their mother.

  3. My girl still does that. She really should know it's only delaying the inevitable! Good to see you vetting the pimp operetta :D

  4. I reckon you would have got about four words in before the Parental Stamp of Hell No came down. And rightly so. Besides I predict it's an utterly utterly shit song.

  5. Nat, I'm pretty sure a child never stops doing that to their parents. My mom recently asked me what we were doing for Independence Day, hoping to get an invite out of me. I kind of did the mumbling thing to her.

    And yes, the Pimp Operettas will always be looked upon very closely by me, before I allow them.

    Yobbo, 4 words was exactly it. I didn't even need to see "Face down, ass up." I knew where it was headed once he got the word "lower" out. Unless it was a song about spelunking, "she could go lower" is not a theme I want my 11 year old daughter listening to.

    Of course, if The Who wrote it, they could write a song about spelunking that would actually be about something very dirty, but that's the magic of rock in the 70's. They understood subtlety. They are to dirty music like the Victoria's Secret catalog is to fantasizing, sometimes it's better to let the imagination do the work.

  6. See the problem with this song is that he has a voice that sounds a helluva lot like "Alvin The Chipmunk" singing the chorus. I can imagine that it's pretty confusing for kids and they wouldn't realize that it's so sexually suggestive.

    And for adults who USED to enjoy his music (ME)- It was a total "jump the shark" moment.

  7. Eventually the mumbling will lessen and the campaign of intentional omissions will begin. "Hey dad, can my friends come over to listen to some music?"

    She will conveniently leave out the number of kids and the music.