On Teaching Babies (at Six AM)

The street lights illuminated her saucer-sized eyes, which drifted sleepily side to side in a daze at 5:45 in the morning. I recognized the voice on the radio. “It’s Eminem,” I informed her. Her eyes drifted to mine, oblivious, and then away again. I have and will continue to teach her things even if they go over her head, no matter that she’s seven and a half months old. I chuckled at the lyrics.

“I don’t like Eminem,” Bailey stated. She slouched at the other side of the car seat, hair lit orange at each passing streetlight. Guinevere turned to stare at her.

“I do. He’s really popular in Germany, too.” I couldn’t tell if Guinevere liked Eminem.

I imagined a voice criticizing my parenting. It’s easy to imagine when you’ve been in court over it for a year and a half. It’s also easy to imagine a lot of things at almost six am. You let your child listen to this music? they would say. (Now, I realize that people wouldn’t say something about exposing a baby to mature language [I don’t think] but I’ve been surprised by a lot of things lately). Yes, I would retort. I would not say that she’s just a baby and doesn’t know any better, though. I would say that Eminem makes good music, and his lyrics communicate many relevant statements. I don’t believe that I should shelter my baby from reality and cover her ears from ‘bad words’. She needs to know that words are just words, so that when she goes to school, instead of crying to me that some kid called her gay, she can make a witty retort to them about homophobia.

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