Her curls shake as she bounces up and down in her seat. Eyes shining, she turns to me, “This is the best gift ever, Mom. Thank you so much!”
I lean toward her as she takes our photo. “Who would’ve thought I’d ever attend an American Idol concert?” I smile in wonder.
A couple of years ago, I didn’t even know what American Idol was. My then pre-teen, was only too happy to educate me based on her friends’ input. The show held no appeal whatsoever to my classical music tastes. When she asked permission to watch the show because her friends were, I lectured her on the pros and cons of pop culture, listening to lyrics that might run counter to our values, and the negative effects that acerbic comments could have on the participants.
My husband, ever the voice of reason, suggested we watch the show with our pre-teen. A counselor-friend challenged me to use it as an opportunity to engage my pre-teen—to enter her world and find ways to strengthen relationship as she grew older.
My husband ended up watching the show with her, until a pastor friend commented, “Anita, what were you like at that age?” It unleashed a torrent of memories: In particular, my fascination with ABBA. I saved my every rupee to buy every ABBA album that existed. I read everything about them that I could find—quite a challenge in an India without the Internet. And I knew the lyrics to their songs much better than my Math formulae. My father lectured me about the perils of pop culture, and filling my mind with “senseless” lyrics. Yet, I’ll never forget the night he took me to the ABBA movie.
So two years ago my pre-teen’s eyes grew wide when I joined her on the sofa for American Idol. We talked about the appropriateness of comments, lyrics, and outfits, and what we could learn from the show. She's surprised me many a time by hitting the mute button or switching the channel when certain songs/performances didn’t line up with our family values.
Since then, watching American Idol together is part of our mother-daughter time. Most often that not, it’s given my husband and me insight into our teen, and helps re-enforce our family values in a non-threatening manner. I'm amazed at the bonds that are forged during that time, and what we learn about each other. In fact I’ve never seen her jaw drop so hard and as fast as it did last night when I screamed at the sight of my favorite American Idol!
Photos: Idea Go at freedigitalphotos.net