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Done with Raffi

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

I said to Alfs the other day, "Remind me to get you a Red Hot Chili Peppers CD." We were listening to the radio in the car on our way to pick up his siblings. "Soul to Squeeze" had come on the radio and he'd asked me to turn up the volume.

As I said it I thought about how we've come to a new point in our family music listening. We're all mostly listening to the same stuff, even Sunshine. And we haven't had "kids" music in the car for quite a while.

The kids music of the last decade or so isn't bad – and it's actually quite good. It isn't as cloyingly sweet as some of what I remember from growing up. Some of it is really funny and musically diverse. I've had a certain affinity for Trout Fishing in America and Dan Zanes for several years now, but I was also feeling ready to move on. Luckily Sunshine hasn't latched on to any specific kid songs or artists since she stopped constantly begging for "Baby Beluga" about a year ago. I'm sure this is helped in part by older siblings and the music that her parents play.

The kids have heard many different styles of music, even while we would put on the officially kid-friendly stuff for them. While they may be lacking an education in classical music, we've played reggae, folk, alternative, tidbits of metal, country, and punk, and most fusions thereof. When each of the kids was born, I prepared for their births by making mixed tapes/CDs of music for labor. They each came into the world to music: Alfs to Peter Gabriel, Woody to Annie Lennox, and Sunshine to Natalie Merchant.

After an interesting musical start in life – ABBA was the music that calmed him when he was three weeks old – Alfs loves Green Day and the Killers. We had to get a second CD of "American Idiot" because he wanted to listen to it in his room (after a discussion about what words to never repeat from the CD), and I liked having it in the car. Like his dad, he leans toward the harder edged stuff. That's OK, as long as we can continue to talk about the subject matter of some songs. Alfs also likes Gypsy Kings.

Woody is going in many different directions right now. He likes Green Day, too, but he also likes the Indian music on the soundtrack CD for "Bend it Like Beckham" and Foo Fighters and Dixie Chicks.

Sunshine's favorite song is "Free Bird." I'm not kidding! She also has a CD of night time music that her uncle made her that includes Jimmy Buffet, Sting, James Taylor, and others. Just today in the car, she asked to look at the CD holder/book and picked out a Shawn Colvin CD to put in. That the CD itself was pink had nothing to do with it, I'm sure.

This new phase is really fun. I love really sharing some of my favorite music with the kids, and they have brought some fun things home, too. I love it when we put on music in the afternoons after school or while we are making dinner. However, they really prefer that I not dance or sing-along ("Mooooommmm! You're embarrassing me!").

Kids music today is wonderful. It's inventive and fun, and musically interesting. I can still sing along with "My Hair Had a Party Last Night," but I always did prefer the Del Fuegos over Dan Zanes.

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