“Mommy, what’s S&M?” That’s what my sweet and innocent 8-year-old daughter recently asked me while driving home from school. Yeah, THANKS Rihanna. Thanks a lot. Fortunately, when this question came up, we were at a red light. I probably would have swerved and hit a passing pedestrian or light post otherwise.
My second grader and I had been listening to the radio, some random Top 40 “we play the hits you wanna hear” type station.
We usually listen to books on tape (currently we’re in the middle of Edger Eager’s magnificent Half Magic) or tune into a kid-centric music station on Pandora. But every so often, I throw caution to the wind and put on local radio. The thing with radio is you never know what will be played next, which is a blessing and a curse. The randomness is fun, but if they start playing something that may not be age appropriate, then you are left answering questions you really aren’t ready for, such as, “What’s S&M?”
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So, how do you answer these types of inquiries from your ever-so-curious kids? In many cases, the truth just shouldn’t be shared. You wouldn’t want to tell your second grader, “Well, S&M stands for Sadism and Masochism, the practice of giving and receiving pain as a sexual act.” No, just no. What can we say instead? Here is a handy guide of various misdirections to give to your kid when they ask about current and recent pop songs that are on heavy rotation:
"S&M" by Rihanna
The Questionable Line: The chorus of “S&M” repeated.
Parental Spin: “S&M stands for Sally and Michael! It’s their initials, it’s a love song, isn’t that sweet?” Hopefully your kids won’t focus in on the line, “Sex in the air, I don't care, I love the smell of it,” because there really aren’t that many ways to spin that one.
"Tik Tok" by Ke$ha
The Questionable Line: “Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack."
Parental Spin: “Jack, well, that’s a special mouthwash that adults use. But you should never use it. Recent studies show that it actually causes cavities instead of preventing them. So never ever brush your teeth with a bottle of Jack ... ever.”
"Locked Out of Heaven" by Bruno Mars
The Questionable Line: “Cause your sex takes me to paradise. Yeah, your sex takes me to paradise."
Parental Spin: “Oh, he’s not saying 'sex,' he’s saying 'TEXT.' His girlfriend is sending him really nice text messages that make him very happy."
"Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke
The Questionable Line: “You the hottest b&*ch in this place."
Parental Spin: “He’s talking about a female dog. Maybe he’s at the SPCA or he just really loves puppies."
“We Can’t Stop” by Miley Cyrus
The Questionable Line: “Everyone in line in the bathroom trying to get a line in the bathroom."
Parental Spin: “She’s singing about a line of toilet paper; sometimes busy places run out. You want to make sure you have a few squares.”
"I Love It” by Icona Pop
The Questionable Line: “You’re from the '70s and I’m a '90s b*&ch."
Parental Spin: “She’s saying pitch, it’s a song about softball and how mad she is that her team lost even though she throws really fast."
"Party Rock Anthem" by LMFAO
The Questionable Line: “I'm running through these hoes like Drano.”
Parental Spin: “Hose is a word for nylon tights, he’s dancing so hard that he’s totally ruining his clothing!”
What song lyrics have left you scrambling for a kid-appropriate answer?
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