So my older boys got MP3 players this Christmas. I did not give them. I’ve been reluctant to give them mobile players for the simple reason that I don’t want them to feel I’m influencing their musical interests. ‘Cause everyone knows that if *I* give them players then I’m also going to put music on them that *I* think is good, thus making me the controlling force in their musical leanings. I don’t want that. They need to find the good stuff on their own.
See, here’s the gist: You ask any 10 people which Twilight Zone episode is their favorite, and one of them is bound to say Time Enough At Last, the really awesome episode where an O/C bookworm played by Burgess Merideth survives nuclear devastation and is overjoyed to find that he can now lose himself in books without ever being bound to responsibilities and, more to the point, reality again. This episode is awesome on so many levels, and I put it at the top of my favorites. But I actually discovered the episode on my own through syndication when I was maybe 11 or 12.
There’s an emotional tie in discovering something you find special that makes it yours. Everyone’s done it. You read an author who blows your mind, you watch an old B&W movie one night and fall in love with it, you stand in an art exhibit and one of the pieces strikes you as inspired. If you found these things on your own without someone else forcing them upon you, then you refer to them as things you ‘love’. And they can fill you with a special kind of joy all your own. Only later, when you discover the object of your affection doesn’t just talk to you but is considered a work of art by the masses do you feel completely comfortable to share your feelings with others. But be careful! Do you want others to like it just because it’s good, or would you rather them discover it’s awesomeness the way you did?
C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Peter Fonda’s 12 Angry Men, John Lennon’s Imagine, the Lagoon Nebula… these are all things that I ‘discovered’ on my own that no one had ever talked to me about until after my exposure. I wasn’t surprised when I later found out how popular these things are. Of course, I’ve discovered a ton of other things I think are great that no one else seems to know about that I wish could be more popular, but I guess they’ll just have to remain my secrets.
So the Sci-fi Network was running the annual Twilight Zone marathon on New Year’s and I was watching my favorite episode when Garrett walked into the room.
“So why’s that guy hiding a book?”
That’s when it struck my that I was about to ruin an opportunity for him to discover this episode on his own. Typing that makes the whole idea seem really stupid in retrospect, but I just hated taking that away from him. I told him that he couldn’t watch it because it wasn’t for kids. (That’ll make him want to watch it a billion times more now! hehe!) And then we watched Monk instead. Later we watched several other good TZ episodes and he seemed to like them. Maybe he’ll watch a few on his own during the next marathon. Or maybe he’ll start watching Star Trek. Or Cosmos. Or MASH. He’s a few years away from dad letting him watch Futurama, though.
Back to the MP3 players… Both Miles and Garrett immediately wanted me to fill them with whatever excellent audio I had readily available, so I went to my audio folder and gave them some random samples. What they selected: Sting. U2. Evanessence. Moby. Weezer. The Chipmunks (shutup!). and then They Might Be Giants! I know what you’re thinking. “You’re still influencing them because that was just stuff you had sitting right there! They didn’t have a choice!” Not true. I have a couple hundred CDs and well over 3000 music files for them to sort through. They made those picks with nary any influence from the old guy. I was blessed with getting to hear my boys singing Particle Man all afternoon the next day!
…And they discovered it on their own.