"Mommy, what's a pregnant virgin?" my 7-year-old asked
me yesterday. He heard the radio spot advertising a popular new show, "Jane the
Virgin." I clicked the radio off and tried to think up an answer,
stalling by asking my older boy about his day.
Gideon wouldn't let go of his question. His almost-12-year-old brother looked at me out of the corner of his eye.
"Go ahead, Mom, tell him."
I had figured out this was going
to be a three-part answer. First, I'd have to explain what a virgin is. Then a
quick review of what being pregnant means. Then, no doubt, he would ask me
how a girl could be a virgin and pregnant, since the latter is a
function of losing the former. Unless you use birth control, which is a
whole other car ride—I mean conversation.
It felt like a lot for a commute from the bus stop to tae
kwon do. I'd never regretted more forgetting to change the station before
picking them up.
Laugh if you will (certainly my husband did), but here's how I
answered: "A virgin is someone who hasn't gotten all nude-y and made kissy face
with another person yet."
"Really, Mom?" the older one whispered to me, smirking, "That's what you're going with?"
"Yes, it is. That's enough for now," I whispered back. "Do
you want to explain it to him?"
"No, I don't," he said, flipping the radio back on.
"How can she be pregnant if she's still a virgin?" Gideon
shouted from the back seat.
"I don't know, honey, I haven't watched the show. I guess
that's the fun of it!" I said.
Or so I thought until Gabriel started singing and dancing
in his seat to one of the five songs they play in rotation on his favorite
station, "Gotta make that money, money, money … You can dance on a pole … that
don't make you a …"
The combination of my reaction, and the bald-faced profanity of ASAP Rocky coming up with this song, and having it be such a hit—well, my darling husband could not stop laughing.
"Gabriel!" I snapped the radio off. Gideon echoed,
"Gotta make that money, money, money …"
Thank you, Usher (for some unknown reason he
introduces himself as when the song kicks in). Thank you for teaching my
boys how to sing the praises of strippers.
"Mom, it's a good song!" Gabriel says. "I'm not thinking
girls should be strippers or whatever, but it's a good tune."
He turned the radio back on. He's not wrong; the song has a very contagious beat. I never have danced on a pole, but that song makes me feel like I
might be missing out on something if I don't. Cash for one thing. All the
money it sounds like his girlfriend makes doing it is very enticing. I'm
not sure I'd earn the kind of tips that "Shawty" is raking in though, given certain
constraints of age. Explaining to my sons that mommy dances around in a
dark room in a thong where people stare at her seems like it might be a little
scarring. Or maybe, like Usher, as long as I came home to them, they'd be
cool with it too.
Scanning the radio, it quickly became clear that driving
around Los Angeles with boys under 12, no radio station is safe. If you land on
news, you're bombarded with reporting about terrorist bombings, financial
crises, murders or kidnapping of one kind or another. Other than the
Disney Channel, which always sounds like an endless stream of Alvin and the
Chipmunks songs, popular music is out of control with the sex references.
Later that night I was complaining about this sorry state to
my husband. Tod, who rarely takes much interest in my mommy reporting, couldn't
wait to contribute to this one.
"It's crazy! You know what is HUGE right now?" he asked me,
searching on his phone to get the video for me, "'Fucking Problem'!"
"That's a song?" I asked.
"Yes, that's a song. Are you kidding me? It's like one of
the biggest songs out there right now." He lowered his voice and sang it for
"'I love bad bitches, and that's my fuckin problem!' It's insane!"
The combination of my reaction, the bald-faced profanity
of ASAP Rocky coming up with this song, and having it be such a hit—well, my
darling husband could not stop laughing.
What I can do is pay attention to it and point out anything I think might present a problem for them down the line.
"I got it, thanks," I said, pushing away his phone after four seconds of beautiful women writhing on the floor and references to
"chrome on my dome," with hands shaped like guns. Everything about this video
"Nuts, right?" Todd asked.
"Yes," I said. "I'm just glad the boys haven't heard that
"Oh they definitely have," he said, "It plays all the time."
"Not in my car."
Tod looked at me blankly.
"But they haven't seen the video right?"
"Of course not! Are you kidding me? What's for dinner?"
There's a prayer in Alcoholics Anonymous, which most are
probably familiar with at this point. It's called the "Serenity Prayer."
me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the
things I can and the wisdom to know the difference." The pop culture exposure
issue with my sons has brought it to mind more than once for me. Unless I raise
my children in a cave, I cannot control the images and messages that are coming
at them daily.
What I can do is pay attention to it and point out anything
I think might present a problem for them down the line. Like believing in
pregnant virgins, falling in love with wealthy, independent strippers and, of
course, having a problem loving bad bitches.