I think I achieved some kind of Lame Mom Quadfecta last week when I:

  1. Picked up my kids from dance class on the way to a P.T.A. meeting
  2. In a minivan
  3. Full of 25 pizzas for said P.T.A. meeting
  4. While listening to Kidz Bop

Oh, man, Kidz Bop. This is pure marketing genius in the face of which I just had to finally admit defeat.

I listen to a lot of bad pop music. Like a lot lot. I have an iPod, but I never use it because I can’t entirely figure out iTunes, but even if I could, I kind of like the random surprise element of listening to the radio. Obviously, my kids, who are at least 87 percent of the reason I am typically in the car to begin with, listen to a great deal of bad pop music along with me. (I call it “bad,” and yet I listen to and like it anyway; it’s a lot like fast food in that way. I love it, and yet I know on some level it’s actually awful.)

I never much care if my kids hear the real lyrics because I just assume they aren’t listening anyway or that the references will go over their heads – until that “Habits” song came on: “I eat my dinner in the bathtub/Then I go to sex clubs.”

“What’s a sex club?” Ruby asked. “Is it, like, only for one sex? Like a club only for boys or girls?”

“Yes!” I said immediately. “Yes, that’s exactly what it is! Hey, let’s order pizza later, don’t you think? With lots of cheese and maybe olives too! And how was your day? Did you make up with Nico? What behavior color did you get?”

I think I said all of those words in the space of 2 seconds, the entire span of which my brain was shrieking: “Oh, my God; oh, my God; oh, my God. My kid just asked me what sex clubs were; I hate you, pop radio. Never again.”

(To be honest, I don’t know how I would have explained sex clubs to my 8-year-old – I am not exactly crystal-clear on the concept myself – but I never would have been able to think up the whole “single sex” explanation on the fly, so thanks, Ruby!)

I guess that story right there is a decent explanation of why Kidz Bop needs to exist (although that is still no excuse for spelling it with that stupid Z, and anyway, if they attempted to create a kid-friendly version of “Habits,” it would probably be 25 seconds long and consist solely of the “Oo-oo” parts because that song is inappropriate as hell).

I always thought, pre-kids, that I would be totally cool with explaining everything to my kids – I was going to be Cool, Open, Honest, Sex-Positive Mom. And then my 8-year-old asked me what sex clubs were and I wanted to die and now I am not really sure where I stand.

I probably still wouldn’t have bought the Kidz Bop CD (especially now that they’ve changed the radio version of that song to say “sick clubs,” which makes no sense but is a perfectly acceptable sacrifice to save other parents from …oh, God, have I become Tipper Gore? I have, haven’t I?) except that Georgia had a freaking seizure of joy every damn time the commercial came on, and it came on every 10 minutes.

The commercial would come on, and she would start screaming, “Mommy! Mommy! My songs! My songs! Yayyyy! Come see! It’s my songs! On the television! Mommy!”

And then the commercial would end, and she would plummet into absolute soul-crushing despair. “Mommy! My songs! They went away! My songsssssssssssss! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Just about the time I would manage to get her distracted and calmed back down, the commercial would come on again, and the cycle would begin anew.

After maybe a week of this roller coaster, I just gave in and bought the CD on Amazon. You win, people who pick time slots for heavy-rotation commercials aimed at children. You win, yet again, and almost certainly not for the last time.

The Kidz Bop reworks of the songs are a little bewildering to me. Some of them I both understand and support – removing curse words and overtly sexual language definitely makes me more comfortable with hearing my kids sing along. Some, however, are kind of inexplicable: In “Rude,” they change the car in the song to a bike, which I guess is more relatable to kids except that the whole song is a man asking for permission to marry another man’s daughter, so not really something anyone not in possession of a valid driver’s license – or at least old enough to be in possession of a valid driver’s license – should be worrying about.

But I actually think the version of “All About That Bass” is better than the original because they replaced the chorus of: “Yeah, my mama, she told me, ‘Don’t worry about your size’/ She says, ‘Boys like a little more booty to hold at night’” with “Yeah, my mama, she told me, ‘Don’t worry about your size’/ She says, ‘Don’t let it keep you alone in your room at night.’”

I got excited enough about this that I tried to explain it to Ruby.

“What was wrong with the original?” she asked.

“Well, it’s just … Ruby, it’s problematic from a feminist standpoint, that’s all.”

She is used to me, so this didn’t faze her; she knew enough to just say, “Oh?”

“Yes! You should not worry about your body, true. Well, I mean, you should because you should make sure your body is healthy and that you eat well and exercise. But. Anyway, you should do that for you, not for any boys. And if you are overweight, then …”

“Mom?” Ruby said.


“Can you actually stop talking and just turn the music up?”

So I did.

“My songsssssssssssssss!” yelled Georgia. “Turn it up more! Turn it up again!”

So I did.

And we all sped off into the night with our 25 pizzas before we were late to the P.T.A. meeting. Feminist theory can wait, I guess. Right now, there’s pizza to eat and pop music to listen to, and I am loving (almost) every second of it.