Be a Beck: Parenting Advice from The Grammys

posted in: Culture, Music, Parenting | 47

Perhaps the hardest part of parenting is figuring out how to ensure your children don’t grow up to be a-holes. Finding a hiding place to scarf down a bag of Cheetos before they sniff you out and ask you to share is a close second, but I digress. In our house, we follow the very simple yet effective motto of “don’t be a jackleg,” born from my father’s term for various plagues on society. We like to point out jackleg moves, then tell the kids to do the opposite: See that lady texting and driving? She’s a jackleg. If you ever do that, you’ll be a big fat jackleg. Don’t do that. So far, it has provided them with a pretty solid set of parameters for how not to act. But I worry we focus on the negative a little too much. My discipline repertoire could really use some positive reinforcement and a model my kids can strive to be, not avoid.

Then Kanye West went and acted like a jerkwad when Beck won Album of the Year at the Grammys. And I thought to myself, this is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

Full disclosure: I did not watch the Grammys. I didn’t even realize they were on (um, because Walking Dead, people. Priorities.). Nor was I searching out news about them the day after they occurred. Nevertheless, I somehow managed to learn that Kanye again pulled another “Kanye.” You know, because stories about it were EVERYWHERE. Meanwhile, I never once stumbled upon who won Best New Age Album. It’s like nobody cares. (Wait, I don’t care.)

I mean, why should anyone be concerned with the whole music part of the Grammys when there’s a celebrity making a total ass out of himself and playing it off as if he is some great defender of talent and authenticity? THAT is what deserves the front page. It is obviously what the people want. We as a society have proven that a thousand times over. Give us a choice between dirt and a flower; we’ll choose the dirt just about every time.

The Kanyes of the world get the big headlines, the viral number of shares, the honored spot as our topics of conversation. We reward their bad, or stupid, or reckless behavior by keeping them relevant, their names always on our tongues. Meanwhile, stories like Beck being awesome, and gracious, and just going about his business of making Grammy award-winning music take the back seat.

And our children are noticing.

They are a generation growing up in the shadows of reality television, flash-in-pan YouTube stars, TMZ, and social media wars.

By those standards, it would stand to reason our kids would equate shocking, controversial, and over-sharing with popularity, celebrated, and aspiration-worthy.Click To Tweet

But I will be damned if I raise two more little Kanyes to unleash upon this world. Luckily, I already have one thing going for me with a last name like Suellentrop, making it pretty impossible to call my children anything directionally significant. That has to help keep them grounded, right? Still, I can’t rely on their timeless and super-traditional names being the lone things to guide them away from the glory and limelight that often comes with publicity stunts and poor sportsmanship.

What I can do is tell them to “be a Beck.”

photo credit: Beck @ Pitchfork, Chicago 7/18/2014 via photopin (license)
photo credit: Beck @ Pitchfork, Chicago 7/18/2014 via photopin (license)

“Being a Beck” means taking the high road. It means saying something nice about those who seek to tear you down. It means finding the humor in things that don’t go as planned. It means knowing what and what not to take seriously. It means controlling your own actions and reactions when you can’t control someone else’s. It means being confident enough to understand that the mud people sling has more to say about them than you. It means knowing that arguing with a fool only makes you a fool yourself…so let that fool just go on and talk like someone is listening. And it means quietly doing your own thing, doing it damn well, and letting your hard work, your talent, and your actions speak for themselves.

I will admit, it is hard to “be a Beck.” It is so much easier to pout like Kanye, bad-mouthing another who has succeeded when we have not. We want to give excuses, blaming others when life does not turn out the way we want it to. If someone voices disapproval for us, our gut reaction might be to hurl hurtful words right back.

But “being a Beck” doesn’t mean we can’t feel all those things; we just know we don’t have to act on them. There is reward in that.

Being a Kanye may get you headlines and more Twitter followers. It may help you sell more records and put your name on the lips of millions. It may mean you get the privilege of being the butt of a pretty epic Wayne’s World joke on Saturday Night Live’s 40th Anniversary. I’m sure being a Kanye also means you will be talked about for generations to come. But do you really want your legacy to always begin with, “Remember that hijacked acceptance speech at the Grammys…”? Besides, Hitler has pretty timeless notoriety. So there’s that.

Being a Beck, on the other hand, means you get to walk away with your self-respect…and the respect of pretty much anyone who can see right through the Kanyes. Oh yeah, and you get the Grammy.

So go forth, my children. Don’t be a jackleg. Be a Beck. Because it looks like it has worked pretty well for him.

Share your own #beabeck moments and flood the internet with awesomeness!

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47 Responses

  1. A freaking MEN! Be a beck and boycott Kimye. So ridiculous that guy…

  2. Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes! I couldn’t agree with this any more.

    “Give us a choice between dirt and a flower; we’ll choose the dirt just about every time.”

    I hate this about humanity. It is for this reason I rarely watch or read the news. I, too, failed to watch/care about the Grammy’s, yet I know as well as you what Kanye did because it was plastered all over the place. I can’t understand why jackholes like this get glorified.

  3. Loved this. And love Beck. It was a shining moment for sure. 🙂 #beabeck

  4. Next time my kids are doing something they shouldn’t, I am so telling them not to be a Kanye! Perfect and like you I didn’t watch the Grammys, but still great lesson to take away from it. 😉

    • You know, i asked my daughter if she knew who Kanye was, and thankfully she had no clue. Until I started to explain what he had done, and then she said, “OH, he’s the one who was mean to Taylor Swift!” I think I just need to put everything in terms of Taylor Swift for my daughter.

  5. Excellent lesson for the kids and for ALL of us!!! Media is complicit in this too because they give Kanye exactly what he wants!

  6. Once again, Kelly, you teach us life lessons and parenting lessons and make us laugh. Beck is awesome and talented and gracious. I bet he made his Mama proud on Grammy night.

    Kanye is a headlining grabbing sleaze who will trample anyone to promote his “products.” That, I think, is also a lesson for our kids. It’s ok to be driven and to want to be successful but what really matters is how you accomplish that. Stepping on others to get to the top is the tactic of the lazy and the selfish.

    I only saw part of the Grammy’s (because Walking Dead also). I watched for a little while because we record W.D. so we can bypass the bajillion commercials. You didn’t miss much on The Grammy’s. Annie Lennox was amazing (of course). But that’s about it. Paul McCartney played but Kanye was “singing” at the same time so it was kind of awful.

    • I bet he DID make his mama proud. He sure made this mama proud. And yeah, I heard about the McCartney/Kanye thing as well. I’m glad I didn’t see it, because I think I would have gotten supremely annoyed that Sir Paul was taking a backseat to, well, anyone…but especially Kanye.

      I usually watch WD on Mondays after the kids go to school. Like literally…it’s the first thing I do when I walk in the door from picking them up. But I was so excited that night, I couldn’t wait!

  7. This is such a good post. I hope my two daughters aspire to ‘be a Beck’. Over here, playing dumb and speaking with a strong Essex twang seems to equate popularity and success (The Only Way Is Essex) which is a terrible example to our youngsters. Thanks for a great post, I have reblogged it. 🙂

  8. Reblogged this on Blogging in Chaos and commented:
    Such a valuable lesson for my own kids & for my students at school

  9. Reblogged this on thisismycrazysimplelife and commented:
    So true. Lets not raise Jerkfaces.

  10. I’ve told my daughters that there’s no traffic on the high road.

  11. “I will be damned if I raise two more little Kanyes to unleash upon this world.” Nuff said.

  12. Amen! I am trying my hardest to raise boys that will show respect always. It’s hard to turn the other cheek when one has been “slapped”. It takes strength, courage, and patience. Well said Kelly!

  13. Let’s broaden this and verb it up. So and so got Kanye’d … you-know-who got Becked … or enjoyed a good Becking. Uh-oh—this is starting to sound iffy.

    Love it! 😉

  14. […] I bring you, “Be A Beck” from Kelly Suellentrop of Are You Finished […]

  15. I missed the Grammy’s but did not miss the social media frenzy around this story. I think you nailed it when you said we’ll choose the dirt just about every time. But that makes me so unbearably sad I don’t know what to do with it. Why? Why do we keep choosing dirt? Is it because we are so consumed with our own dirt, our own imperfection, that we highlight it in others in attempt to feel better about our own lives? Or is it more voyeuristic than that, more like rubbernecking an accident on the side of the road? I’m teaching my kids to choose the flower, but boy is it hard in a culture obsessed with the dirt. Thanks for your words Kelly.

    • Such a great comment…and I am sure it is a bit of all those things. Though I am not proud of it, bad behavior on the part of others does sometimes make me feel better about myself. Which is silly. I have found that it is easier to choose the flower as I get older though. I don’t have time for the mess dirt makes.

  16. […] blogger Kelly at Are You Finished Yet? recently posted a piece on advising her children how to behave when faced with pressure or social […]

  17. Perfect. It really bothers me that notoriety seems to be all, and it’s beside the point whether it’s positive or not, in fact, probably better if it’s now. BTW, I hadn’t known the Grammy’s were on either. Also but not only because of Walking Dead. 😉

  18. […] ← Be a Beck: Parenting Advice from The Grammys […]

  19. I agree. To be a Beck one must forgo the instant gratification we THINK we’ll get from being what we in the South call “acting ugly.” But most of us learn early on that “acting ugly” is never as fun as we think it’s going to be.

    • For my kids, it seems to pop up most when playing sports. That whole good sportsmanship this is so hard. I feel like I am working with them constantly on that, but at the same time I want to be like, “that other was totally elbowing and the ref was making horrible calls!” But I just try to bite my tongue.

  20. Be a Beck… I love it! Wish my kids will become a Beck, and for that I shall show them how to become one by becoming a Beck myself and also have them listen to their amazing songs!

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