No More Trouble

“We don’t neeeeeeeeeeeed no more trouble”

This is the soundtrack in my car right now. My girls’ new favorite song is “No More Trouble”. Disc 2, track 10 off the Bob Marley box set, Songs of Freedom.

So cool.

I don’t do children’s music. Not in my car. Not at home. Not in a box. Not with a fox. I just don’t see the point when there is so much great music to expose them to and so little time to do it. They listen to what I listen to – good music.

And Raffi ain’t got nothin’ on Bob.

I know kids love repetition and I know some of those songs can be good tools for teaching kids to recognize and understand things in their ever-expanding universe, but that doesn’t sell me. Don’t most songs follow a repetitive pattern? Aren’t their mom and I supposed to be the ones teaching them about the world around them? Are those seizure inducing kids’ songs the only method of introducing music into my girls’ lives?

The driver on the bus says turn that shit down.

This isn’t the first time that they have latched onto a song that may sound slightly out of place being sung by a 4 year old. I’ve played them everything from System of a Down to Ella Fitzgerald to The Roots and there have been favorites among them all. But hearing them belt out Bob in their inimitable off key perfection just feels special for some reason.

“We don’t neeeeeeeeeeeeeed no more trouble”

This box set, and specifically this disc, has been a constant around me for close to twenty years, serving as the musical score as I stumbled into adulthood. I learned from this music. I danced to this music. I grew lifelong friendships with this music as the backdrop, so it makes sense that it would hold a special place. I even posed the argument to my dad once that Bob could be the Second Coming. College was great for stuff like that.

But, it still has felt different listening to the girls repeat that line. Maybe it was the significance of the music universally, maybe of the man himself, maybe it was the haunting chant style of the lyrics. Then it occurred to me – they are singing to me.

“We don’t neeeeeeeeeeeeeed no more trouble”

Translation: Isn’t it hard enough being a kid without you giving us shit, Dad?

We all struggle. Whether it is with our jobs, families, money or why in the hell we still look for honest substance in the State of the Union Address, we all struggle. We all struggle with ourselves to quiet the demons and be the best we can be. We all struggle to find our voice, our identity and our place in this world. We all struggle to find meaning.

Now imagine being 4 years old. Just because they don’t have any bills addressed to them doesn’t mean they aren’t stressed by this world. They are in a constant state of discovery and reliance which must be an enormous challenge. Their voice, their identity and their place in this world remain undefined despite their best, albeit immature, efforts to find them. Their struggles largely are the same as ours but they have not been armed with the years of experience that allow them to contextualize these struggles or a lifetime of strategies with which to acclimate themselves.

They’ve got it hard enough without me burdening them further with my own weaknesses and short-comings.

Parenthood is littered with unpopular moments. Our kids don’t want us to be the disciplinarian or the enforcer any more than we want to play those roles, but that is part of the deal. Our jobs as parents are to guide our children along the unpredictable road to adulthood as best as we can regardless of the popularity of that guidance. Wisdom and experience should steer our efforts, but things don’t always go according to plan. Sometimes our guidance down this road they travel is too reflective of our momentary failures than it is of our best intentions. Along the way our kids don’t need their loads made heavier by our impatience, insecurity and selfishness. We are all too human so frailty is in our nature. With a little thought and honest reflection, though, we can learn to do better.

After all, they don’t need no more trouble.


About Mitchell Brown

I am a stay at home dad with my two daughters who are a lot stronger than they look. When I'm not cooking, cleaning, dancing, reading, teaching, playing or protecting my eyes and groin, I am writing about this whole experience in all of its ridiculousness.
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7 Responses to No More Trouble

  1. Meka says:

    RIGHT ON!!!! Bob is a staple in our house as well. I have nothing for kids music and it has nothing for me or should I say my kids! Ziggy Marley actually makes a kids CD.Not annoying little senseless jingles, but songs of substance. It’s the only Kids cd I have. Music is powerful and no doubt if it gives us a high and something to relate to then it will do the same for them. The words from others make us think and learn wheather they are being sung or in a blog.THank you for the beautiful words Mitchell. Ones that make me think and inspire me to continure to try to be a better person and most of all a better parent.

    • I’ve heard some of the Ziggy cd, but not all of it. I love the alphabet song with alternative words – you mean ‘banana’ isn’t the only word that starts with ‘b’?

      Thank you, my friend. Once again I am honored and humbled by your kind words. You sharing your time with me means more than I can explain.

  2. Maggie Batt says:

    I’m glad you brought up the topic of music again. One of our favorite CD’s is by Sharon Burche, “The Colors of My Heart” She’s native american, and this CD has more english and encourages ecology and happiness……:)

  3. Dalite says:

    It’s so true, no matter who you are, we feel the stresses of the world. We are all interconnected and feel each other in the complexities of the negative but also the positive, music. A wonderful way to connect, relax, be heard, and hear one another.

  4. Adam S says:

    My guess is you’ve never heard Raffi’s version of “Burning and Looting”,
    Or the Wiggles version of “Guerrilla Radio” ?
    I must say that I agree with you for the most part; But, I also believe that there are ALLOT of parents that don’t have the same degree of consideration for what their children are exposed to.
    What I’m saying is, I’d rather have the majority of the ignorant masses exposing their children to the likes of Raffi, as opposed to watching their children convulse to the latest Avenged Sevenfold single. I can say that I have witnessed this numerous times in my little corner of the world.

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