My girls came along first.
Initially, a whiny, crying difficult child who maintained her distance from the beginning but, through the years, became mellow and laid back, a jeans and t-shirt girl who skis like a fiend, flies down the mountain with aplomb, turns her skis into a stop and asks, “Are you planning on making your way down the hill?” A girl who has realized the role of leader of my brood and wrapped her younger siblings beneath her wings, chucked her beak skyward to accept what sunlight offered to warm her dark, amber eyes.
My Golden Girl, the one so invested in being “good” that, when things turn against her, she cries at the thought of being “bad,” puts down what I don’t want her to do and fills up her eyes with tears with shame, stricken by the sense that she has, in some way, done wrong.
The second was, from almost day one, scooting across the floor to greet me after work, standing up in her crib, arms wide open, to send me off to work, the Daddy’s Girl. Unlike her sister, she became, through the years, the “girly girl,” playing soccer only because she could shine (yet, shining brightly) and, in her own way, attempting to usurp her sister’s “Golden Girl” status despite no investment in being “good” — she cried not because she was ashamed at being wrong, but because she wanted to continue whatever it was that I’d decided was not what she wanted to do.
Raising two girls, very different, I was convinced I was prepared to raise a son; I learned I, um, had a lot to learn.
Once, I read a feminist author who, under my same delusion, assumed that raising a child was a matter of socialization, that gender would not matter to any great degree. In her essay, she identified the “Q” gene — the sound a little boy makes when he points his finger at someone else and spouts out, “cue, cue, cue,” to sound like a gun firing — surmising that the Q gene was inborn and a boy would, lacking a toy gun, create his own.
Little girls don’t make those sounds, point their fingers thusly. Little girls rarely pretend they’re shooting anyone.
Little boys do.
I was unprepared for the “boy” energy – girls crying because a HotWheels car had been bounced off of someone’s head, a little girl had been rolled on the floor and rubbed down with Play-Dough, Barbies desecrated and tossed to the Lego fire that I was supposed to tamp or raise — I was used to little ladies who held a pinky out as they held their tea cup, not a monster chewing at the sides of the saucer and grinning like a fiend as he destroyed whatever stood as “sister” stuff.
Yet, my Little Man is hugely protective of his sisters and indeed, anyone female. He once took on three boys, all two years older, to protect the younger girl those boys picked on. He brought home a “pink slip” for punching, kicking, biting and spitting, earning a lecture from me — and silent approval.
He will be ten times the man I wanted to be; putting his coat down for his queen, taking up a challenge for a woman scorned. Converse to Stone Temple Pilots, not “half the man I used to be,” but so much more than I ever will be.
Given that, am compelled to make a mix for my little boy – and all little boys.
Of course, I used to be a little boy as well; not your typical little boy, but I think what it’s like to be young and wanting to be a hero. After all, there is nothing else a little boy aspires to be other than a hero, a hero to his mom, dad, siblings, society and everything else. So, here is my little boy mix, standing outside myself and wondering where our next generation will go. Given the example of my son, we’re going to do pretty damned well.
Lyle Lovett — If I Had a Boat; probably the best song about being a little boy, taking his pony out on a boat, knowing his sneakers are better than lightning and girls are icky. Few songs are better than this.
They Might Be Giants — Particle Man; ridiculous stuff but if you’re creating a mix for a little boy, why not? If Universe Man can degrade Person Man (beneath Degraded Man, of course), then anything is possible for a little boy.
Africando —Yah Boy; There’s no equivocation here; Yah Boy and nothing else.
Eminem — The Real Slim Shady; kind of creepy (listening to his entire story) but the kid should realize who should stand up and declare himself not so screwed up … Slim Shady won’t have enough to muscle (but enough spine) to shove his face forward and scream… God knows, better him than us.
Kanye West — Jesus Walks; it doesn’t matter if your kid is Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim or whatever, Kanye shakes ya’ll down, asks where you’re at and then demands you make a stand. Eminem is a clown; in comparison, Kanye is a prophet. “I want to talk to God but I’m afraid because we ain’t spoke in so long,” is, honestly, something Kanye ties us all into, between prostitutes, politicians and everyone else. The hate comes from fear and outdated thinking (look at Prop 8), the love apparently arising from music.
Gorillaz — Clint Eastwood; Little Man and I spend Saturdays watching Westerns, some Clint Eastwood, but mostly John Wayne. I wonder what the Duke would make of, “The essence the basics Without it you make it/Allow me to make this/Childlike in nature/Rhythm /You have it or you don’t that’s a fallacy/I’m in them/Every sprouting tree /Every child apiece/Every cloud you see /You see with your eyes/I see destruction and demise/Corruption in disguise/From this f*****’ enterprise/Now I’m sucking to your lies/Through Russ, though not his muscles but the percussion he provides/with me as a guide/But ya’ll can see me now cos you don’t see with your eye /You perceive with your mind.”
I assume Clint Eastwood would be appalled, but Little Man and I laugh both at him, the Duke, their thin, coffee shop philosophy and a code that never really existed but in a Hollywood script. Libertarianism is stupidity served up on a cracker, a trifle for tastes too unsophisticated for complexity.
Blur — Song #2; Really, why not? Whoo-Hoo!!! Although the song sounds celebratory, it’s actually a kick to our collective solar plexus (plexes?), the joy of wrecking things — something little boys are prone to do. Despite this song’s ubiquitous appearance in commercials and movies, I never tire of its idiotic glee with woo-hooing about wrecking stuff.
Suicidal Tendencies —Institutionalized; sent to a Nut House merely for asking for a Pepsi. We all suspect that Mike’s parents needed more drugs and Mike needed to own up for whatever weird stuff led his parents to come in his room and make a scene. More than that, we wonder why a Pepsi might be a metaphor for dope.
NOFX — Suits and Ladders; do I really need to say anything here? Fair warning for our sons, I suppose, the ladder entails wearing a suit and really, who wants to do that?
Descendents — Suburban Home; I used to have this as a ring tone for whenever my parents called. If this is the least of Little Man’s stabs at irony, I’ve done well.
Bad Brains — Pay to c***m; Little Man heard this song and asked me if music could be any harder; I told him, “No, not much.” Included here because the song makes my little man move (and I defy anyone to say they can understand any of the lyrics).
Girls Against Boys — Rockets Are Red; boys know this. Applying that knowledge is another matter. A sneering playground taunt of the caliber little boys are know to make and a whole lot of fun.
A.C. Newman — Submarines of Stockholm; the best 60-ish psychedelic song of the last decade. If my son eats acid, I hope I’m there to catch him before he takes an irreparable leap.
The Beatles — Maxwell’s Silver Hammer; when we were heading to hand the kids off to my ex for the summer, Little Man kept asking to hear this song… should I be afraid?
R.E.M. — Superman; never an REM fan, I have to say that the fact they covered this obscure garage band tune elevated them in my estimation (see also, Golden Palominos, “Omaha”). An incredible little boy song as it captures the bravado of a cape made out of a bed sheet and socks stuffed up sleeves to make muscles.
Ted Leo & the Pharmacists — I’m a Ghost; another perfect little boy song, even if it’s about being in love, completely, unconditionally. If Little Man knew what this song was about, he’d ask what the hell was up with Scooby-Doo and Shaggy. Really.
TV on the Radio — Wolf Like Me; a song feeling like being shot out of a cannon and ripped through the tops of trees. More bravado and superhero posing which, well, what this mix is supposed to be about.
Rolling Stones — Can’t You Hear Me Knocking; ostensibly a song about a stalker but honestly, if Jagger and Richards came knocking at your window, you’d call the cops? That would be like Christ speaking at your church and saying, “Yeah, let’s nail this guy to some tree.”
Frank Zappa — Broken Hearts Are For A*****s; because an 8-year old boy should know better. And that little boy would completely agree with Zappa on this one.
Stevie Wonder — I Wish; I guess Little Man should appreciate that I don’t slap him around the way Stevie was, but then, will he be as successful as a blind African-American musician?
Radiohead — Go To Sleep (Little Man Being Erased); wow. Time to go to bed or… Sheesh. My whole, “Songs For a Little Man” idea seems to end on a bad note and,
Half-Japanese — Baby Wants Music; heh. Not like this.
Honest, these songs are for a little boy and he’ll appreciate you going to the trouble of making the mix. If he, in later years, blames his disposition on this mix, turn your finger towards me.
It wouldn’t be the first time. The Q sounds, I assume, will continue.
Little boys need their guns. No matter how much I try to turn him away from that nitwittery, I know he’ll somehow be bigger, more powerful with the Q satisfied.
For me… I make mixes, my noise, my Q.