Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Alright to Cry

I was riding in the car with my kids and looking for something that everyone could agree on. Sam is insistent on listening to The Lion King soundtrack, but that gets a little old. We had listened to all of the Barenaked Ladies' new CD, Snacktime, and I started perusing my IPod for something else to listen to. David suggested our favorite Chanukah CD which has spoken stories along with singing but that seemed a little out of place to me...in June. So I hit on Free to Be...You and Me.

Perfect. I know the whole thing by heart, it's new to my kids, and hopefully no one would complain. It's like visiting an old friend!

I put it on, and a hush fell over the car.

The only sound was my sniffling.

Yep, that's right...almost every track brought me to tears! I haven't listened to it in a while, and I had forgotten how powerful the equality messages are, and how deep an impact these songs and stories had on my own self-image. These songs and stories have definitely held up over the years - I'd only add a few new ideas to an updated version to make it perfect.

Let's break it down...the 13 tracks (out of 18) that made me cry.

1. Free to Be...You and Me -- "There's a land that I see where the children are free and they say it ain't far to this land from where we are." Yes! This is what I want my kids to learn about and BE! Free to be themselves. "Every boy in this land grows to be his own man, in this land every girl grows to be her own woman..." Tears.

2. When we grow up -- "When we grow up, will I be a lady, will you be big and strong? I don't care if I'm pretty at all, and I don't care if you never get tall. I like what I look like and you're nice small. We don't have to change at all." We can grow up and not change, and we can change immensely. Tears.

3. Parents are People -- "When parents were little, they used to be kids, like all of you...and then they grew. And now parents are grownups. Grownups with children...Mommies are people, Daddies are people..." We live in a house that tries so hard not to differentiate things because "mommy is a girl" or "daddy is a boy" and I definitely work in a job that regularly gets the "women can do that!?" question. Perhaps I was just emotional that day...Tears.

4. Helping -- "Some kind of help is the kind of help...we all can do without." Learning how to pick your friends is hard. Knowing that they're going to be the kind of friends that will help you out and be good to you is super-hard. Tears.

5. Ladies First -- "Ladies first! Ladies first! And she was...and might tasty too." Oy that poor little sweet young thing who thinks that she should have it all because of her pretty dress and shiny shoes. How many people do we know like this and how often have we women worked to change this image in the world...yet there's still the idea that if we put on enough lipstick and show off enough cleavage we can get what we want. Tears of anger.

6. Dudley Pippin and the Principal -- "and he took out his little blue flute and began to play..." Oh how I love Dudley's Principal. A wise and warm and wonderful man who knows that boys need to cry too. I hope that my sons (and daughter) have such a wise mentor in their lives. Tears tears tears!

7. It's Alright to Cry -- "crying gets the sad out of you...raindrops from your eyes...it might make you feel better!" I catch even the most feminist of men saying things that indicate that boys need to "tough it out" and girls don't. We still have a long way to go, baby. Tears of frustration.

8. Sisters and Brothers -- "every mother's daughter every father's son..." We are all in this together, all related in the great family of life. Tears...

9. William's Doll -- "William wants a doll, so when he has a baby someday, he'll know how to dress it, put diapers on double and gently caress it to bring up a bubble..." That Grandma ROCKS. I love that she overrides the dad, who is so insistent that his son not have a doll. I definitely thought about this one when we bought our older son a doll. And I love to think about my children growing up to be parents. Tears. Lots of tears.

10. Atalanta -- "smiling with the pleasure of the race, they ran together, side by side, until together they reached the finish line!" What a fantastic story about a princess who refuses to be pigeonholed by her king-father, and her friend who "gets" her. Love it. Tears of joy.

11. Girl-Land -- "you go in a girl and you never get out!" This one always struck me as a little eerie and scary...what are they trying to say? I do think we've come so far in what girls can do that this song almost doesn't mean anything any more. But I still cried because of what so many girls lived through (and girls still live through in so many parts of the world)...

12. Dudley Pippin and His No-Friend -- "he doesn't have a friend either. We can have a club. We can call it the No Friends Club..." Poor sweet, sad Dudley Pippin who cries with the principal and now has to move to a new town and he doesn't seem to understand how to make a friend. After all the other tracks, I was just a mess. You gotta cry for this poor kiddo.

13. Glad to Have a Friend Like You -- "fair and fun and skipping free...glad to have a friend like you and glad to just be me." I have lots of friends. But there are those few friends who are the ones that help me to skip free, help me to just be me. I hope for my children that they have at least one friend like this in their lives. Thinking about their futures, their friends, their growing up....tears.

If you haven't listened to FTBYAM in a while...definitely go check it out. It's now on CD and DVD and I think the whole thing has weathered the test of time well. Let me know what you think.

And see more Thursday Thirteen here.

15 comments:

Vered said...

That was a beautiful post Phyllis and now I have tears in MY eyes!

Picturing of Life said...

yep...if we need to cry...just let it be :P

Visit me in here

Robin said...

Oh wow, I haven't listened to FTBYAM in ages! Must put that in the ipod for the trip to the states!

Rona Michelson said...

Ironic, though, that Michael Jackson, who was an adorable little guy, sang "we don't have to change at all" and went on to be the poster child for plastic surgery...

Kristi said...

Wow...this brought back memories. We did a version of this book for a musical when I was in college. I haven't talked to any of the people in ten years but i can still see each and every one of them during those performances.

Carol said...

Thanks for introducing me to FTBYAM!

Jena Strong said...

This might as well be our family soundtrack. Aviva knows all the words to every song. The funniest part is that we have a Pearl (who doubles as Earl, a Greg, and a Peg (my mom), aka the whole cast of "Glad to have a friend like you".

xo

bernieg1 said...

Interesting 13. Mine is Eat, Drink and be Merry - 13 Last Words, Excerpt: Judaism instructs us to enjoy the simple gifts that God gives in the present world. Eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy this life, on this Earth, in this time. I have collected for your enjoyment the last words of some of our more famous fellow human beings involving food or drink before they died.

Melisa said...

Wow, that brings it back! I LOVED that when I was younger. I'll have to go check it out...

Jack said...

I have that album.

melody is slurping life said...

Beautiful post. And thanks for reminding me.

tamaraeden said...

I must chime in to simply share that I too loved Free to be You and Me. :)

Naomi (Urban Mummy) said...

love, Love, LOVE, free to be you and me!

LOVE it!

(and our family loves the new barenaked ladies CD - my son calls them the Naked Girls!)

Rivster said...

This is one of our favourites! We've had it on track one for about a week.

And I agree that Girltime is just eerie!!

Juggling Frogs said...

I can imagine the producers of FTBYAM tearing up with joy at the image of a new generation of kids and their Rabbi Mother both listening to and living out the messages in the album in 2008.