Explaining Sadness to Children With Adele

I've said it before, I adore Pamela Ribon. She's hilarious and real and I love her. In this blog post, she writes about a conversation she had with her three-year-old daughter about sadness, love songs, and the queen of both, Adele.

Pamela and her daughter were listening to the music in the car on the way to pre-school. Her daughter asked what the fast and loud music was. Pamela answered that it was the Breeders. "Fast and loud music helps us get all the wiggles out," she explained. "You can shake your head and shake your arms and yell really loud and dance." Her daughter replied, "I like super fast fast loud."

With that in mind, Pamela put on the song "Cannonball." She felt sure she was "going to blow her tiny mind." The song starts and her daughter starts to look confused.

Pamela: Oh, man. This is the best song.
Daughter: No, Mom. “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” is the best song.
Pamela: Okay, first of all, you’re wrong.
Daughter: No! “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” is the best song. It’s my favorite.
Pamela: Off the top of my head I can think of three other songs you claim to be your favorite that are better than “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.” Six songs. All songs.
Daughter: I don’t like this.
Pamela: Because you’re supposed to play it louder. Here.
Daughter [grabbing her chest]: Mom, this song makes my heart hurt.
Pamela: Okay, I’ll play something different.



So, Pamela quickly switches over to Adele's "Hello." What follows is a description of a three-year-old learning what a love song is. Followed quickly with the fact that sometimes the people we love can make us sad. She learns that sad songs can also be loud, just like missing someone can be very loud. Pamela tells her daughter that Adele is "yelling because she misses someone far away she loves very much." As the song goes on, her daughter ask if the song makes Pamela sad. She says that it does. "Are you going to be yelling?" her daughter asks. "If I sing along," replies Pamela. So they do, loudly.

Then the questions start again. Her daughter is listening to Adele's lyrics closely and asks, "Why’s she sorry?" Pamela answers, "Well…Sometimes, uh, in life you make choices, and sometimes you maybe have regrets, like sometimes there’s people you have to leave behind when you…oh, uh…When you love someone, sometimes you can love them so much and still…And sometimes you have to just…uh…"

Daughter: She’s yelling so loud.
Pamela [at this point just trying not to cry]: She sure is, sweet girl.
Daughter: I’m sad.
Pamela: Me too.
Daughter: So sad. This is so sad, Mom.

The song ends and Pamela parks the car. "I turn to look at my kid," she writes. "Her eyes are downcast, her mouth a small pout. Her hands are folded in her lap. Quietly, so very quietly, she says just one word. 'Again.' "

Adele breeds empathy. Long live Adele.