Gangnam Style

SEXY: sexually suggestive or stimulating; erotic

Son came home from school singing “wap-gunda-sigh” today.  After a little digging, it became clear that he was singing the Kindergarten version of “Gangnam Style.”  I’ve seen posts referencing this song but had not heard the song or seen the music video before today.

When Son and Daughter began singing “Hey, sexy lady….wap-gunda-sigh” at the dinner table I knew I had a problem – and a research project.  Thanks to Wikipedia, I soon learned that “Gangnam Style” is a song by a Korean singer PSY and also a Korean term that refers to a lifestyle associated with the Gangnam District of Seol which is known for being classy, hip and lavish.   I lost four minutes that I will never get back watching a You Tube music video with a series of outlandishly dressed people doing awkward dances in which the charades version of horseback riding was the go-to move and “Hey, sexy lady” was the only English phrase muttered.

After all that research, I was better educated but not necessarily better off.  I still had two children singing “Hey, sexy lady…” over and over again followed by “wap-gunda-sigh” (their butchered version of the song’s refrain “Oppan Gangnam style”(오빤 강남 스타일)).

I reminded myself that this is one of the benefits of public school.  Our kids rub shoulders – and share lyrics – with other kids.  They pick up words and behaviors.  And they bring them home.  Where, I believe, it is my job to help them sift those words and behaviors through the filter of our family values.

So I thought about the values that mattered to me in this situation:

I value joy

I value silliness

I value belonging

I value innocence

Clearly, part of the appeal of the whole song had been doing crazy dance moves with his buddies at recess.  Frankly, from what I’ve seen Son could have been an extra in PSY’s music video.  I didn’t want to squash Son’s joy in being silly, dancing like a maniac, and laughing with his buddies.

But, the “sexy lady” lyrics were not okay with me.  I explained to Son that “sexy” means that something makes you want to have sex.  It’s not appropriate for kids to sing about something being sexy.  Sex is something for grown-ups.

Son is welcome to dance crazy and butcher Korean.  He can sing about crazy ladies, silly ladies or dancing ladies.  He can choose nearly any adjective he likes.  But sexy is off the table.

He’s in Kindergarten.  I’d like to stick with “E is for elephant” rather than introduce “E is for erotic.”

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11 thoughts on “Gangnam Style

  1. I visit daycares, and I’ve been to one where the teachers actually played that song on their music player, getting all the kids to jump around and do crazy dances. I think being silly is great, but I don’t understand why it can’t be done with child-appropriate songs. Maybe I’m old fashioned?

  2. Did you know there are entire albums of kids singing pop songs? I didn’t until I heard it being played at my daughter’s daycare. Kids singing Lady Gaga, Kesha, etc. I was not very pleased.

  3. I feel the same way you do. When my first went through this, I used to seethe and rant to anyone who’d listen about positive role models, innocence, etc. I still feel that way. But when the influences of school and older siblings rear their heads it gets more difficult. With my third, I get less worked up about a lot of things (lyrics, play fighting, “guns”, etc.) . . . or maybe I am just too overwhelmed by other things now 🙂 Good to know that there are lots of other parents out there who feel the same way!

  4. The current favorite at our preschool is Firework, by Katy Perry… Thankfully on this one I can get behind some of the lyrics:
    “You’re original, cannot be replaced
    If you only knew what the future holds
    After a hurricane comes a rainbow”
    I’m sure “sexy” is in our near future as well! Thanks for helping to prepare me.

    1. Many thanks for the Liebster nomination. I’ve jumped through the hoops on that one before, so I’m going to cheat a little and simply offer my gratitude for your kindness and my responses to your questions:
      1. What made you start a blog?
      I wanted a way to capture the moments that make up the years. Mothering brings different things on different days and I wanted to try to capture some of those things in words so that I can remember the marvelous and the minutia years from now when time has dulled the sharp edges of the joy, doubt, and exhaustion of this season of my life.
      2. What is your favorite color?
      Brown. Lots of good things are brown: Soil. Chocolate. Husband’s eyes.
      3. What is your favorite food?
      I am a fan of any food I was not required to cook. A meal cooked by a friend is the most delicious treat. I miss the days right after the births of our children when people dropped off meals. I don’t miss them enough to have another kid, but I might voluntarily break a bone and see if I could work that angle for some meal sympathy.
      4. What was the toughest lesson you have learned in your life?
      That loving someone isn’t enough to make them a good marriage partner. When I was young, I believed that I would fall in love with one person and that person would become my spouse. Learning that it was possible to fall in love with someone who was a terrible match as a life partner was a tough (but important!) lesson.
      5. What was the happiest moment of your life?
      These days, it’s not about the happiest or biggest or most… Knowing Husband is my perfect match, the birth of a child (twice), watching our kids act with compassion, discovering something new, enjoying a moment of quiet – each of these things makes me happy. I prefer to think about the string of small, happy moments I’ve enjoyed on this journey rather than try to pick a winner.
      6. If you could do anything in the world, what would it be?
      Be in two places at once. Perhaps three places.
      7. What is the one thing that always makes you smile?
      Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy.
      8. What’s your favorite childhood memory?
      My most traumatic memory is of being kidnapped by a masked man who entered through a window. Turned out to be a prank my brothers cooked up while babysitting one night. It has become a favorite because it gives me lots of guilt leverage over my brothers now that we are all parents and realize how truly terrible their prank was. 
      9. If you had to choose between chocolate cake or a big dish of pasta with your favorite sauce and ingredients which would you choose?
      Why must I choose?
      10. What is your dream travel destination?
      Peru is high on my list. And Thailand. The world is big, there is much to see.
      11. Would you prefer to live in the city, suburbs, beach or wilderness?
      I love living in a city. Someday I’d like to live in a rural area with a goat. The extremes suit me….but I could never return to the suburbs.

      1. Thank you so much for your sincere introspective answers to my questions. It is always great to learn from others why they make certain choices and what they value and look forward to. It gives you not only a deeper understanding of where that person is coming from, but also gives you an opportunity to reflect about yourself. Thank you for sharing!

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