Show Me My Youth

One thing I am looking forward to this summer is the visit from family.  While I’m excited to see my brother and sister as well as their spouses, I’m super excited to see my nieces.  They don’t live super close to me and I don’t see them frequently.  Over the course of the years, I have enjoyed each and every age of theirs.  Now, they are the great ages of 14 and soon to be 11.  I’m pretty familiar with these ages since I have been teaching middle school students for about 15 years.  I know how fun and how frustrating kids at this age can be.  That said, my focus for this trip will be to enjoy each and every moment.  Part of the plan is to take them up to Wisconsin Dells to enjoy a water park, the largest in America, in fact.  I want them to be able to have some fun and do something that they don’t normally get to do.  It will be worth the hour long drive.  Of course, like the good aunt that I am, I have prepared for this drive by putting together a playlist for them.

I have sent this playlist to them already in order for them to familiarize themselves to the songs.  How did they react to this list of songs?  Before they looked at the list, my eldest niece asked in all seriousness, “Aunt Mandy, are all these songs Duran Duran songs?”  This question wasn’t asked in a super excited voice, either.  Oh boy.  I explained that there were some Duran songs on there but it wasn’t completely Duran.  Clearly, I have work to do.  Yet, I’m surprised by this resistance from her since, for example, she has been enjoying bands like The Killers.  Officially, one of their influences was a little band known as Duran Duran.  Anyway, is this a matter of rebellion, on her part?  Does she not like Duran because I DO?!  I always assumed that I would be the cool aunt.  Is that not the case?  I’m obviously hoping that making a playlist with a variety of songs and artists might help her find her way to Duran or some other artist that is cool or decent.  What happens, though, if she or my younger niece choose something else, something not that cool, to be a fan of?

This idea makes me think of one of my students this past year.  This particular student is a sweet, now 7th grader, who was the only girl in a class of boys.  After talking with her some, I not only learned about her very loved doggy but I learned that she was a fan of One Direction.  This wasn’t hard to figure out as she started wearing t-shirts and bracelets, openly showing her fandom status.  This was a new experience for me as a teacher, believe it or not.  I have had students who have been fans of other musical artists but most of them were interested in solo artists like Chris Brown or Justin Bieber.  I found that I couldn’t relate to those kids at all.  What is it like to be a fan of a single artist?  I would get it more if they were fans of an actor because even actors have to have other actors to bounce off in TV shows or movies.  They are not islands like solo singers seem to be.

After realizing that this student of mine was a fan of a band, I began to ask questions.  Who are they?  How many members?  Where are they from?  Have you seen them in concert?  Do you have a favorite member?  What are the band members like?  As I asked all of these questions over the course of the year, I found myself floating back to my own youth and when I answered similar questions about Duran Duran.  As the conversations continued, I began to include some information about Duran.  I even showed her some pictures and talked about what being a fan was like for me as a kid.  Finally, a few weeks ago, she turned to me and asked, “Why are you encouraging me to be a One Direction fan?”  I didn’t have an immediate response.  Yet, the answer was obvious.  Being a fan is good, in general, or so I think.  Fandom is fun or it can be.  Plus, if I rejected her experiences with One Direction because I don’t like their music, isn’t that the same as what people did to me about Duran?  I won’t do that.  I, instead, want her to feel that being a fan is good, fun and NORMAL.  I wanted her to see that even adults and responsible adults could be fans.

This is when it hits me about my nieces.  I don’t know that it matters what they choose to be fans of.  If they do choose to be fans of something, I just know that I want to support that.  My sister and brother-in-law aren’t the biggest fans in the family so it may not happen but my brother, sister-in-law and I could influence them to be fans of something.  Then, once they are fans, I will back up them up 100%.  After all, I know that I could have appreciated more support than what I had as a young Duranie in the 1980s.  Long live fandom in all generations.


On a different note, Rhonda and I wish all fathers out there a very Happy Father’s Day!

3 thoughts on “Show Me My Youth”

  1. Happy Father's Day!!!
    In Italy it's on March 19th, so it's the second one I celebrate, being in an Anglo-Italian family!
    My partner's dad knows the band and even attended the show when the guys got the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award in 2004, in London.
    He'd be a good “guide” for our kids in the circle.
    Personally, not to disrespect, but I miss my dad when this Day arrives. RIP dad.

  2. Welcome to my world, Amanda. I used to fight this issue every day on the way home from school with Heather (although this past year we ended up talking more often than not instead of listening to the radio). Apparently my iPhone has a lot of Duran Duran on it. *gasp* So she'd fight to plug hers into the stereo instead. Of course, I would fight my urge to say “Not in MY car….” and instead agree to listen to her music. Why? Well obviously it's because I am curious about her taste in music (it's actually quite good), but it's also because I want to show her that I'm open minded. Even if I already know that Duran Duran is best. 😀

    Happy Fathers Day to all of the fantastic dads out there. I do tend to miss mine a lot on days like this, too. 🙂 -R

  3. Yep. I think it is important to be open-minded to what the kiddos are listening to and be supportive. It doesn't mean we have to like everything but…we still can be understanding. 🙂


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