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I'm an assistant professor at the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where I teach and research how news sites can better reach their audiences. I received my Ph.D. from the Missouri School of Journalism at the University of Missouri where I was one of the founding editors of MyMissourian.com, a citizen journalism site for Columbia, Mo. Before graduate school, I worked as a community newspaper editor in Southern Utah and Southern California.

For Sunday: Connecting with retro kids

I wasn’t in a great mood on the way to church this morning. We were running late. Merilee stayed home with the baby, so I had the other three in the back of the Volkswagen, and they were fighting as usual. I made a simple and rather gruff suggestion that they sing a song or something, thinking that would shut them up. Instead, the songs they chose made me realize the best part of being a dad. I get to introduce my children to some of the interesting things the world has to offer.

I can’t tell you how much it softened my heart when all three kids, including Alex, who’s not even two yet started, belting out “Dougy Giro,” a rather obscure old ditty that my friend Scott Richard got me hooked on in 10th grade. I just have to add the lyrics here so Lincoln can find them later. When you really look at it, it’s quite a heart-warming tale.

You can guess whatlife for Dougy
Is like, he wakes up in the street,
No home, no bed, he says he’s lucky,
That he can smile and be happy…
Dougy, Dougy, Giro,
Dougy, Dougy, Giro.
People say that he’s not worthy
Of clothes, that shows that they don’t care,
But he does not let this get him down,
That is how Dougy stays alive…
Dougy’s inside a bus shelter,
It’s raining and a sight to see,
Dougy smiles he’s seen a rainbow,
Every.. where’s bright, and so is he…

Even though my son is extremely cool, he had help finding bands like The Toy Dolls. “Dougy Giro” was on my Zune when I gave to him after I got an iPod Touch. I deleted all the objectionable songs, but I had to leave a few of my favorites on there just to see what would happen. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results. Lincoln and Holly run around the house holding their backs and singing “Fiery Jack.” Lincoln’s obsessed with Green Day’s latest “21st Guns” (Don’t worry. I deleted all of “Dookie“) and Journey, which I suspect is more a result of playing too much Rock Band, rather than my influence.

I must also say my children have excellent taste in cartoons, spurning modern flashy offering such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (the dumb, quasi-interactive, computer-animated “Dora” clone one) in favor of Wacky Races. They’ve even learned to grumble under their breath and chuckle like Muttley. I saw a “Laff-a-Lympics” DVD at Wal-mart. Is it too soon to introduce this?

Lincoln also found my Robotech files stashed away on a hard drive, and we shared a tear when Roy unexpectedly passed away during the Macross Saga. He’s still not sure what to make of Lancer/Yellow Dancer in New Generation.

There is a point to this post other than establishing how cool my children are or how gratifying it is to see them pay attention to my suggestions every once in a while. There’s even more to it than pointing out how technology makes all this sharing possible. The point really comes in some parenting advice my father in law gave me a few years ago. The key to raising successful children, he said, and to ensuring you have a good relationship with them is making sure you share and participate in their interests. I’m just glad my children have already decided to meet me halfway. I look forward to the days ahead when we can go rollerblading or I can explain all the nuances of Blade Runner or Aliens or we can try to rebuild computers from old, dusty parts. I also look forward to playing soccer or lacrosse or practicing ballet or whatever other activities my children choose because that’s what being a dad is all about. It’s only fair. My children did sit through Willow.

PhotoCredit: Lincoln, Holly, and Alex show off their Christmas pajamas, even if they do feature dumb, modern cartoons on them.

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3 Responses to “For Sunday: Connecting with retro kids”

  1. Merilee #

    Good post Hans. Is it sad that my kids know more tunes from my era than I do?

    February 23, 2010 at 10:26 am
  2. Lincoln’s obsessed with Green Day’s latest “21st Guns” (Don’t worry. I deleted all of “Dookie“)

    Young Master Meyer has good taste! You should casually slip “Dookie” back in there when he hits teenage years…it could come in handy.

    February 24, 2010 at 1:56 am
  3. Hans #

    Dookie got me through my teen-age years. Ok, maybe it was my mid- to late-twenties. I hate to admit it, but I’m old.

    February 24, 2010 at 2:32 pm

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