Gifts of culture to share with the young, starting with Steely Dan

Yale Hollander is a dad, husband, legal professional and writer whose works have appeared in a number of local and national publications. He is currently a trustee of the St. Louis Jewish Light, however the opinions and viewpoints he presents in this blog are strictly his. Follow him on Twitter @yalehollander.

By Yale Hollander

They’re the words that make every parent cringe: “Do you know what your child just told me?”

Sometimes this query (to which “no” is never the right answer, assuming you’re given time to provide one) is followed by news of a good spelling test result or some innocuous playground gossip, but in my experience, it’s more often than not the disclosure of an impending and heretofore unknown school project deadline or the confession of an improperly flushed household item.

But sometimes the answer reveals a pleasant surprise as was the case a couple of weeks ago when my wife called me late one afternoon.

“Do you know what your (9-year-old) daughter just told me?”

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“No, what?”

“Well, you know that one song about the pina colada?”

“Uh, the ‘Pina Colada Song’ by Rupert Holmes?” (Alright, sticklers, I know the real name of the song is “Escape;” just play along.)

“No, the other one.”

“What other one?”

“The Steely Dan one.”

“Oh, yeah, ‘Bad Sneakers.’ ”

“Do you know your daughter just informed me that she knew that the guy singing background vocals was Michael McDonald?”

I was overcome by pride. The kid had been paying attention! 

You see, while I maintain fairly eclectic tastes in music, I have a particularly soft spot for the genre which roamed the earth four decades ago under the name “Adult Contemporary.” It was the soundtrack of my youth and were I to craft a Mount Rushmore of Adult Contemporary legends, Michael McDonald would be its Thomas Jefferson.

Thanks to the fact that I drive the 9 year old to school every morning and, unlike her 12-year-old sister, she does not sit within arm’s reach of the radio dial, nor does she have a personal listening device by which to escape my personal Fogelbergosphere, the kid has to abide by my choice of tunes during the 15-minute commute. And it seems she’s doing more than just feigning interest.

I think every parent wants their child(ren) to remember them not just for what they did, but for who they were and the things they liked. I have no qualms about Michael McDonald or Steely Dan or even the Eagles serving as audible triggers for my kids’ memories of me once I’ve moved on to that Big Fern Bar in the Sky. 

Clearly there’s a limit to how much parents can and should expose their kids to their tastes, especially at the expense of the kids’ freedom to develop their own. I have no interest in smothering my offspring with my culture. I would never expect a child of mine to sit through my favorite movie (especially since it’s “Shaft,”) or TV show (that story will be told another day) but a daily stream of my music, administered in 15-minute doses, is pretty reasonable. And one of the kids might even like it.

Do I expect to walk into a daughter’s room one day and discover an Ambrosia poster has taken the place of one featuring One Direction? No, I do not. 

But a dad can dream, can’t he?