The Journey of the Clown Kids
The first time going to a karaoke place with my kids was like the first time taking them to school. Excited and nervous. They were a bit hesitant at first because the place was dark and small. After a while, they relaxed a bit and began surveying the equipments and the food menu. My Clown Prince must’ve thought that this place was a junk-food restaurant, because his face brightened seeing pages of his favorite-but-off-the-limit-food offered. “Wow, Ma, I want French fries and Oreo. Then if I am still hungry, I want spaghetti and ice cream.” They each got a bottle of water instead.
Since this was my first time too (after 20 years) in a karaoke, I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my snappy judgmental kids. My husband was out of town that time so it was just the three of us. I asked the helper to find me children songs. The helper – a friendly young boy - stayed with us for a while, helping me tune up the sound and teaching me how to use the computer. I saw a great selection of the children songs. I immediately selected a long list of familiar songs, like Twinkle Twinkle, Row Row Row, ABC song, Five Little Ducks, Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, You are My Sunshine and many more. My kids weren’t that thrilled. Even Nina – who was age appropriate for those songs - looked bored. Mike sighed and started asking me about the junk food again. Boy, singing karaoke back in my high school time was a lot simpler than this.
I panicky browsed through the selection again. Accidentally I clicked the best song category instead of children’s. Michael quickly caught the title on the top. Justin Beiber’s Baby. Voila! They kicked off the session with the Baby song. Both of them were at their feet, singing, dancing, feeling the beat. Without further ado, came along Kelly Clarkson’s My Life Would Suck without You. Then followed closely by Jason Mraz’s Lucky, Michael Buble’s Haven’t Met You Yet, Taylor Swift’s Love Story, Rolling Stone’s You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Rihanna’s Take a Bow, Michael Jackson’s Man in the Mirror, Lionel Richie’s Endless Love, and Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. In between this line-up, Justin Beiber’s Baby got a few repeat orders. And everytime I sang along Baby, Nina frowned at me and said, ”Mama, don’t sing! This is my song, not your song.” What ???
I just sat there working as an operator. One hour went by so fast. When the time was up, Nina didn’t want to let her mic go. “I want sing again, Mama”, she said. Her brother – looked disappointed- asked, “Lho, finished? You didn’t order food, Ma?” So we went home. I promised them that we would be back the next day. Nina seemed so eager. Mike nod in agreement but I was not so sure about his motif - eating junk food or singing.
I was thinking to myself, is it normal for kids these days to get (too) familiar with adult songs, with words they barely understand? The melody and the beat of those songs were surely nice. I know that they are too young to interpret the lyrics, which is good because –frankly - some of them are a bit too much for the kids their age. Listening to those songs in the car –radio or CD- is different from singing them in the karaoke. The older kids can read the words and if we are not careful, they will read something that are not intended for them. Some of the video on the karaoke list was not appropriate for kids either. I never watch an MTV or V channel at home (duh!), so I was shock to see some of the current videos by the current famous artists. Thank God, I hit the stop button before the video went too far. It’s better if we stay close to the children’s selection no matter how boring it is. I made a mental note out of this experience.
I miss my childhood songs. I am lucky to have known such wonderful songs like Pelangi, Bintang Kecil, Lihat kebunku, Bangun Pagi, Kupu-kupu, and Balonku ada lima. Those songs were connected to me as a kid. Maybe just as connected as Barney’s songs to kids nowadays. Just last week, my kids were practicing a song called Kemarin Paman Datang. It was such a nice song with nice lyrics, with such a nice rhythm and dynamic. I want more songs like that. Are there many more good quality children songs out there? I surely hope so. And I surely want so…