Now this one I must admit comes from both of the boys' parents. Beloved spent her formative years playing the piano and of course Japanese schools emphasize music as an irreplaceable part of the curriculum and I (Unable to play anything, tone deaf, and whose singing has been banned under the Geneva Convention as being a crime against humanity) of course love to listen to music of all different styles and origins. So since their birth, both of the boys have listened to music and they love it. Makoto engages in making up his own songs and sings along to a number of his favorites and Hikaru dances, to everything, including the microwave chime and the little ditty that plays when the bath is ready.
And honestly, I'm mostly ok with this. Sure, I can't dance/sing/play, but, excepting my very real fear that my eldest is destined to be a member of one of Johnny's boy bands like SMAP or Arashi in the future, I like how both my children seem to be musically gifted. Research seems to point to the fact that those with an afinity for music do better in school and of course there is just the relaxing nature of music, to be able to plug in your earphones and relax (Or be excited by as the case may be).
Now, coming from two different cultures has produced some rather interesting musical clashes between East and West. I brought a set of 200 Kids Songs on CD with the classics (McDonald and his farm) and Beloved insisted on a Japanese CD talking about how rabbits are delicious. I taught my eldest about why one should hold on to your meatball when eating spaghetti, and Beloved has taught Makoto about Tanuki and their big balls (It should be noted that Beloved usually complains about how English kids songs deal with such topics as underwear, but at least we don't have a song singing about how well endowed an animal is). Disney songs are usually a mini-war in and of itself as the House of Mouse produces songs in both English and Japanese. I personally feel that there is something profoundly wrong with listening to the Mickey Mouse Club March in Japanese and usually grumble that the refrain is NOT "Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mouse, Mickey, Mickey, Mickey Mouse (I admit I'm losing that battle as Makoto's school is fond of Disney and plays them in Japanese constantly and no matter how many times I play 'It's a Small World' in English, Makoto still sings it in Japanese). But for the most part, we tend to match up with kids songs. Sesame Street for Anpanman for example. Both boys seem to be fine with this musical mash-up and bop along equally to 'C is for Cookies' and 'The Anpanman March'.
We do have the usual generational battle over who gets to control the CD player in the car and request the songs to be played. The wise parents usually let the kids win on this one for short trips. Longer trips might see Beloved vetoing the backseat suggestion of the Cars Soundtrack for a little bit of Kobukuro and during vacations when Daddy is driving more than an hour or so, he notes that, yes, Thomas has been requested, but you WILL listen to this odd mix of The Beatles, Queen, and Weird Al and you WILL like it or else Daddy is going to drive off a cliff.
But all in all, this is a family that enjoys listening to music all the time and does so together...
Except for one small problem.
Actually it's not small. A group of 64 members is not small. The boys, like just about the rest of Japan, have become rabid AKB48 fans. Somehow Hikaru, at age one and just starting to talk, knows their music and will RUN to the TV to listen to them when they come on and dance. Not even food will get him away from it until the song is done. Makoto, who knows more about Thomas than the lineup of the group, sings their songs at the top of his lungs. In the beginning, not knowing what I did, I got them a copy of one of their CDs, it has now become the most requested CD from the backseat, with the aforementioned singing and dancing.
Neither Beloved nor I am all that fond of AKB48, we don't care about how they want us, need us, or love us. We have no idea what a Big Brother Collection is and quite honestly I don't wanna know either. They're the group in Japan right now so of course they are everywhere, but why does a group, designed to appeal to adult male geeks, fascinate young boys?
What makes it worse is that not only can we use their music to calm the boys down, but it gets stuck in your head and it doesn't get out! I had thought I would have at least a decade before I would be shown for being a fuddyduddy, unhip, uncool, oyagi, stick-in-the-mud, doesn't get it, not with it, middle aged, dad. I mean, I accepted that it would happen, after all, I seem to recall some words being exchanged with my parents over my notion of good music and their inability to escape the 60's and 70's and enjoy the good stuff that I listened to. I thought I could at least claim some music coolness for a bit by knowing 'Great Big Gobs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts' and other songs sure to tickle little boys. But... no. At a tender age, my sons have already labeled me as someone who is out of touch with the listening choices of a younger generation.
At least we still have 'C is for Cookie', and, for now, I guess it will have to be good enough for me.