“Oh, I like this station…”
I sat in the driver’s seat dumbfounded. For the past couple of weeks I had been turning the car radio (when my classic rock stations were on commercial) to WFAE, the local NPR affiliate. Suddenly, I had an affirmation that my 12-year-old was not only listening to what was being said, but liked it. What the…?
I’ve never been a big listener to NPR despite the fact that I fit the bill of a stereotypical NPR listener – I’m a progressive, I think deeply about minor issues in the grand scheme of things, and anything that’s odd or eclectic I usually devote time to investigating. But I really like rock of the 60s and 70s, so that’s usually what I’m listening to.
Now my daughter’s liking of the station wouldn’t be such a big deal to most people, but let me fill you in on a couple of important details: my daughter is a whiner – good enough to make any middle-schooler nod in approval. If she doesn’t like something, she will tell you and tell you again and then ask you how you could be so crazy as to like it. Also, on things she does like, she usually tunes out. I want to say she’s not the artsy kid off in her own world, but well, she is most of the time – especially on car rides.
Basically, a radio station that has no flash (Patton Owalt’s observations on this) and talks about things like exotic foods, how people live in other countries, and (blah) US politics, got and held the attention of a pre-teen who I had feared had focus problems. She was even asking me questions about what was just said. She laughed a couple of times. This is insane.
After a re-affirmation of approval when she heard this story on the way home from school, it hit me: maybe it’s me who has been part of the problem. Maybe my child doesn’t just want to talk about what happened at school, what homework she has, what she wants to do over the weekend, and what she wants for dinner. Maybe I’m asking way too many questions about…boring stuff?
There are some parents who will read this and say, “Well, uh, yeah! You should be introducing interesting content into your child’s life everyday.” This content shouldn’t always ask direct questions; sometimes it should just inform and plant seeds – much like the writing I’m attempting to make a living on.
I challenge every parent reading this to try this with their kids. No, not so much listening to NPR, but giving them something interesting to reflect on that they don’t talk about in their daily routines. You might learn something new about your child and, really, arguing about how much time they spend on their homework will only get you halfway through dinner.
This is the kind of radio that I imagine devoted NPR listeners tune in on...
P.S. The WordPress Post A Day topic prompt of the day was “List 5 things you’re afraid to write about” – this takes care of one of them: parenting.