Family Magazine

Johnny Cash Teaches My Children About Relationships

By Sherwoods
My children live an incredibly sheltered life.  Nobody goes to school, we don't have a TV, we can't listen to American radio, and there are no English-lanugage movie theaters.  So when it comes to American pop culture, they know nothing.  Which doesn't bother me because I know only slightly more than they do and I'm okay, right?
Of course when they go off to college in the US, they are going to have some pretty funny moments when somebody realizes that instead of watching [currently popular US children's show] Kathleen was reading The Epic of Giglamesh.  Parents are cruel sometimes, especially when they find their cruelty mildly amusing.
Our car is old enough to not have an iPod adapter, so we're stuck with whatever music happens to be in the six-CD changer, and the music in the CD changer is music I choose because the children have no knowledge of anything different.  There are radio stations here, and Brandon listens to them, but I refuse on the grounds of taste.  So for the first six months here we listened to ABBA.  Theoretically I could have switched the music out but usually I realized that we only had ABBA - again - when we had been sitting at the Rashid Behbudov traffic light for fifteen minutes and another round of ABBA was better than crying/whining children.
And the kids liked ABBA too.  Every now and then I would catch Kathleen singing to herself.  'So I say thank you for the music For giving it to me,' and I realized that perhaps I might need to change the music some time.  But I was grateful she sang that line for me - I never could figure out what they were saying.
So in a momentous move a month ago, I changed the CDs - Johnny Cash, Johnny Cash, Children's Primary Songs, some more of the same, and of course, ABBA.
Last Friday we took Brandon to work and while sitting at the Rashid Behbudov traffic light on the way home, Kathleen asked for some music.  I explained her options, 'you have primary songs, ABBA, Johnny-'
"CASH!! CASH!!!! CASH!!!!!!  I want CASH!!!!!!!!" Edwin demanded from the back seat.   "And you have Johnny Cash," I finished.  After some debate, everyone wanted Cash except Kathleen, we put on the mellow sounds of the Man in Black.
As I piloted through morning traffic, I explained to the children, again, that porter is a job description, not a name, and how people used to ride trains and porters helped them with their baggage.  I tried to explain what rhythm is, and mangled a description of what 'getting rhythm' mean.  We talked about shoe shining.  Then "Cry, Cry" came on.  "Mom," Kathleen asked after listening to the song for awhile, "what is a sugar daddy?"
I remembered previous Johnny Cash sessions and Kathleen's questions - why is the lady going to cry, and was she bad, and why the lady is breaking hearts, and was it the same lady who was going to cry and what was running around with other men?
Were these really questions that six and four year-olds needed to be concerned with?  Do I really need to discuss the reality of bad relationships yet?  Maybe Johnny Cash isn't the best way to bring these questions up; after all it's not like he was exactly a shining example of good marital relations.  The songs are catchy, however.
"Well," I began carefully, "it's a man who gives a woman money and the woman only pretends she likes the man so she can have money.  And he's usually older," I finished lamely.
"Oh," Kathleen replied, "so the lady is bad.  Okay."
I breathed a sigh of relief when the discussion moved on to what exactly a Tennessee flat-top box was, happy to move to safer ground.
Maybe Johnny Cash is going to have to get replaced with something with a little less relationship angst.     Or at least someone that can't be understand quite as well.

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