I actually still enjoy the music the kids put on the radio. Not all of it. But, a decent portion, so I tuned in to the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, eager to see 'NSync and hopeful to prove I haven't aged as much as I actually have.
First up, always good for stirring a social media ruckus, was Miley Cyrus. And she didn't disappoint. Within three minutes of her performance starting, Facebook was inundated with hate statuses.
"Miley, crotch grabbing? Really? Come up with something original, would you?"
"In the words of In Living Color, Haaaaaaaaaated it!"
And then, I read this one:
"What does Disney do to their cast members when they're kids?"
This struck a nerve in me.
Then, the same person who questioned Disney's employment tactics said, "Say what you want about Lady Gaga, but she puts on a show."
I'm having a hard time reconciling this train of thought. So, I'm going to attempt to derail it.
Why does Disney get the blame? They don't do anything to these kids. They employ them and put them on an age-appropriate, clean-humor show.
The problem lies with us, the viewers. We fail to remember that these "kids" are sometimes 16 years old, playing a character that's 13. And we fail to recognize the actor is aging.
Cyrus will be 21 in November. She's not Hannah Montana anymore.
Listen. I'm not disputing the accusations that her performance was raunchy and classless. What I take issue with is our disdain for change. To admit these characters are growing up is to admit our kids are growing up. And that means we are aging.
And Lady Gaga? If she had been in the wholesome Mickey Mouse Club, we'd have a much harder time embracing the raw meat dress and seashell bra.
Does this mentality impact our parenting? Bet your sweet, judgmental self it does. We don't see our 17-year-olds as being on the cusp of adulthood. We see them digging for worms in the back yard and making tea for their teddy bears.
Parents lose out on a teaching moment when they shield kids from a performance like that. If you don't let them watch with you, they will watch it on a smartphone on the bus or at lunch.
My kids, Kolbie and Kourtnie, shocked me with the opinion they offered about Cyrus. We had an hour-long conversation. Kolbie said she wasn't very pretty anymore. Kourt said, "I feel bad for her. She's being punished for being a kid star and role model. It's not her job to raise the world's children."
No Kourt, it's our job to teach children our definition of right and wrong. But, it's also our job to allow teens the same fortitude we had to make mistakes, learn and grow.
She's a performer. Hate her if you must. But it's the very disgust of the people that has defiantly propelled her to prove just how much of a child she is not.
We tell our kids to be who they are, be proud of who they are and insist they don't listen to what others say. And yet, they hear us yell at the TV, "Way to go, skank. I bet mom and dad are proud."
I know many people who have talked to me about their regrets regarding random sex, drugs and even temporary "career choices" when they were in their 20s. We didn't know what we were doing. And we didn't listen.
The only reason we know now is because we've aged. We learned because of what we did. Our parents were appalled back then by our choices, our actions and our music.
Welcome to the official point in your life where you're no longer the target audience for the VMAs. You are your parents.
Heather Tempesta is a Brandon mother of two sons, 17 and 10, and a daughter, 15.