All about the ‘music’

20160719_111840It wouldn’t be summer in our family without weekly road trips somewhere fun. Most of the trips are relatively local: San Francisco, Monterey, Napa. Some are farther afield: Sacramento, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles. And here are some commonalities about those trips:

  1. The most frequently consumed food is homemade GORP (without raisins).
  2. Everyone takes a bio break every two hours, no matter what.
  3. Kidz Bop is playing over Internet radio. Incessantly.

The first two realities are easy to stomach; my GORP is second to none and (despite the occasional protest) everyone benefits from empty bladders. No. 3 on the list, however…well, let’s just say that music MAKES ME WANT TO PULL OFF MY EARS AND STOMP ON THEM UNTIL THEY BECOME A BLOODY PILE OF MUSH.

For the uninitiated, Kidz Bop records sanitized versions of modern songs, sung by kids. In theory, it’s a wonderful introduction to grownup music from a kid’s POV. In practice, however, all of the songs sound like bad karaoke being sung underwater by a gaggle of weak and terminally ill cats. To call it “music” is generous. IMHO, it is, in fact, anti-music.

The problem of course, is that my kids love it. Obsessively. The first thing L asks when she climbs into the minivan: “Can we listen to Kidz Bop?” The first thing R says when she finds out we’re going to listen to Kidz Bop: “Can we keep listening to Kidz Bop the whole way there?”

(Thankfully, Baby G doesn’t have an opinion about Kidz Bop yet.)

I can’t explain their fascination at all. Powerwoman and I played Mozart for both big girls when they were in utero, and I spent a good part of their early childhood years introducing them to Springsteen, Lucinda, and other (artists I deem to be) classics. They are exposed to grown-up music in other forms, too: We do a lot of singing around the house, and it’s always the real versions of these songs, warts and all. Still, their love affair for the heinous Kidz Bop continues.

The worst part of this undying fascination: The damn music is catchy. The other night at the gym I was humming the Kidz Bop version of a popular rock song. Sometimes, usually when I’m drinking wine, I’ll catch myself playing, “What Does the Fox Say?” in my head.

I’m not sure how to end Kidz Bop’s reign of aural terror.  Some days I fantasize about instating a moratorium on Kidz Bop. Most days I just quietly hope L and R will get tired of it. At some point, something is bound to change, right? Until then, I guess I’ll just quietly give the kids what they want. If it helps them enjoy our summer road trips, I guess the music isn’t that bad after all.

The aftermath of a family trip

The aftermath of a TFP, on my bed.

The aftermath of a TFP, on my bed.

We family travel bloggers spend a ton of time writing about what happens on and before our adventures. Often, we overlook the stuff that happens AFTERWARD.

I’m not talking about the recalibration of sleep schedules or the return to normal eating habits (“No, honey, you may no longer have French fries with every meal”). I’m talking about the process our children go through as they reintroduce themselves to the stuff they left behind.

In our house, the routine is almost always the same: The morning after a big trip, the girls gather in one room for what Powerwoman and I like to call a Toy Refamiliarization Party (TFP). They set up a bunch of blankets on the floor as if they are about to have a big picnic. Then they collect all of the very best toys that stayed behind. And they play with all of them. At once.

You can imagine how chaotic this can get; the girls have a fair number of toys.

Sometimes the TFP comprises mostly dolls and stuffed animals—these are my favorite iterations because they’re pretty quiet (and they involve a healthy dose of imagination). Other times—such as this past week, after a 6-day jaunt to Walt Disney World—the TFPs feature musical instruments. And, as you can imagine, these can get f-ing loud.

My wife and I endured a good 20-minute chunk on Monday (we got home Sunday) during which neither of us could hear ourselves think.

The girls, however, had a blast, banging on xylophones, keyboards and drums.

No matter how loud they are, we love the TFPs in this house. For starters, they are a great way for the girls to re-acclimate to their surroundings after being away. They also help Powerwoman and me save money; by rediscovering toys they’ve had for years, the girls feel as if the old diversions are new again, thus postponing our need to buy additional stuff.

Herein lies the rub. Next time you’re on a family trip and your kids bug you about souvenirs, resist. Instead, quietly remind yourself how much they’re going to love spending Q.T. with their “old” toys once you get back home. Any family can have a TFP, you know. Thank goodness for that.

With which “old” toys are your kids usually most excited to play upon returning from a big family trip?

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