A dagger, I tell ya. Penny’s words were a dagger to my heart. A flaming dagger. Doused in motor oil. Driven into me by a tyrannosaurus rex. That then bit off my head. And stepped on me.
I was driving the kids home from school. The eternal radio debate raged on. It becomes particularly contentious if I can’t find either “Thrift Shop” or “Gangham Style” somewhere on the dial.
Anyway, we could find nothing amenable to both parties. So they threw out the suggestion of a CD. OK, fine. But which one?
The debate flamed right back up. I thought we’d have a resolution when Rigby tossed out the suggestion of The Beatles.
Boy, was I wrong.
“I don’t like The Beatles,” Penny replied.
I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped. Like, literally.
“But sweetie. You used to love The Beatles. Don’t you like your song?”
Quick tangent: A few of you may have noticed my daughter’s name sounds familiar. A few of you might even know where it comes from. So, yes, I am a fan, and that song is what I mean by “her song.” Anyway, back to Penny’s reply:
“Well, I DO like my song, kind of ... well, actually, Daddy?”
“I hate my song, too. I hate The Beatles. Yeah, I just hate The Beatles.”
No matter how mad I get as a parent, I am generally able to contain my emotions enough so the fact I love my kids unconditionally is never lost on them. This was not one of those occasions.
“WHAT?! What do you MEAN you don’t like The Beatles? You got your name from them!”
“I love The Beatles,” Rigby chimed in. That’s my boy.
“Well,” Penny countered, “they’re just not that good. I want music I can dance to. They’re bad. Just bad.”
Now, I knew from the first time I heard “Penny Lane” in high school I wanted to name my first daughter that. It’s a cool song, and how many of us are lucky enough to even be in a spot to name their child after an all-time great song? It wasn’t even a matter of fandom. It was the obligation of doing it because I could.
Once we knew another child was on the way, we decided to keep the theme going. Mommy and I listened to The Beatles more after Penny’s birth, becoming fans more so after the fact. So Rigby seemed to fit well (he probably would have been Lucy Diamond if he were a girl) and we went with it.
They knew their songs almost before they knew their own names. In fact, in the chorus, instead of Penny Lane, Penny would sing “mmmeeeeeee” any time we played it. And Rigby would ask for his song (”Eleanor Rigby,” in case you never figured it out) to be played on an endless loop. So their names took on a double-meaning of sorts, an association with music they’d otherwise be years from discovering (if kids in the 21st century even discover The Beatles — or any older music — anymore).
As such, while I ordinarily leave the kids free to like most anything that suits their tastes, I could not — NOT — let this slide quite so easily.
“Sweetie, this was the first song you knew. You used to sing it. You loved it.”
“Well, Daddy, I just don’t anymore,” she said, her hair flailing about as she began shaking her head with the fervor of someone being force-fed liverwurst. “They’re just no good. NO GOOD.”
Sigh. Kids these days.
I figured there was no point in furthering her anguish, so we moved on.  I can’t compel the kids to like anything, after all. Even something as near and dear to Dear Ol’ Dad as the origins of my kids’ names. There’s no accounting for taste, and I have to let Penny and Rigby develop their own tastes, however inaccurate those tastes may be.
“OK, sweetie. No sweat. What WOULD you like to listen to, then?”
“Um, I don’t know. Can you see if you can find the thrift store song?”
ContactPaul Laneat email@example.com.