A couple of days ago was the one year anniversary of Prince’s death…
The morning that I heard the news I felt compelled to listen to some of his music (like many people, I’m sure). I explained to my girls (7 and 9 at the time) that he had died unexpectedly, and much too young. I said I wasn’t sure how he died (of course they asked). I said that was being investigated (which led to a whole other conversation about autopsies…).
The girls did not much enjoy the music of Prince, as it turned out. I explained that he wouldn’t appeal to everyone, but what an amazing gift to have your music loved by millions of people….and to know that what you’ve created will live on long after your death.
I thought it was a perfect opportunity to discuss gender ambiguity and the importance of not only being confident in who you are, but also of being accepting of others who don’t conform to the norm. I showed them some images of Prince…with his hair from long and wavy, to short hair with side burns, to afros…his clothes from feminine silk blouses and tunics to leather jackets and suits. He rocked whatever look he wanted to and never let himself be defined by…well, he never let himself be defined.
I really wanted them to get the message that its okay to be different, and that in doing so, a person can bloom into something amazing – THEMSELVES.
Juuust as I felt I was really scoring a home run with this teachable moment, Beau says, “That seems like a good job to have.”
“A famous musician? Yeah, that would be a great job,” I said.
“No, I mean cutting people open to figure out how they died.” She pauses to consider this further, “If you make a mistake with the knife, at least you know you aren’t going to kill anybody.”
Later, the girls went to their dad’s house and they told him that I was “going on and on about that guy’s clothes.” Ha! Sometimes we just try too hard to teach our children, when in reality they are learning all the time from us. They notice everything. If they see us treating everyone with equal kindness, and not making a big to-do over how people choose to express or to identify themselves, they might even find it weird when we feel the need to point out these differences. And they’re right, aren’t they? I never enjoyed Prince because of his clothes or his hair…well, maybe a little, but mostly I liked his talent and his confidence.
I can just imagine my nine year old’s brain disregarding the information she deemed irrelevant, and honing right in on the truly more fascinating bit of information –
It’s actually someone’s job to figure out how someone died, by cutting them up!
Now that’s news!