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Monday, June 29, 2009

Talking to Our Kids About Michael

Since Michael's passing, I have been in this indescribable funk. "Mama, did you know him? Did you meet him?" one of my kids asked after seeing me tear up while we watched his video, Smooth Criminal, on YouTube. The thought of never having the privilege to meet him caused the tears to come a little stronger. I would now never get to see him. I'd always said he was the one star I would pay big money to see. Now, even if I won a huge lottery I would never get to see him.

I've seen his videos myriad times over the years and thankfully there are Cd's and videos to purchase. My kids have been watching his videos on YouTube and I guess now that will be our nexus to the King of Pop. Watching these videos with them online as well as seeing the videos on television- and I am sure this will go on for months- has allowed me to discover Michael all over again. I watch with appreciation. I see the perfectionist everyone has been talking about. I can see his musical influences like Fred Astaire, while watching Smooth Criminal. Seeing the influence of James Brown in his earlier videos when he performed with his brothers. The artistry, creativity and Broadway abilities in videos like Thriller, which revolutionized music videos and put Michael in the Guinness Book of World Records.

I talked to the kids about him being a philanthropist and how giving he was. He used his celebrity to shed light on problems around the world. I can refer them to videos like We Are the World, The Earth Song and more.

Of course television networks have flooded our screens with videos, discussions and shows about him since Thursday. TV One aired the movie The Jacksons: The American Dream, which debuted in 1992. Daddy and I watched it with our kids. It was their first time watching it but probably our 100th time. We would watch it differently now. Paying precise attention to Michael now in a different way. Interrupting many scenes to point out certain things to our kids- really wanting to submerge them in our world of Michael Jackson Mania. I wanted them to feel the way I feel about him!

"See! See how he sings and dances so well and he didn't have to be taught!" I stressed.

But they weren't as excited as I was- but they didn't grow up in my time.

Then came the scene when Michael's mother, Katherine Jackson, caught his father, Joe, on the phone with another woman. She then walked up on him while he was laid back on the phone. She began yelling and wailing on him!

"Why was she doing that?" our six-year-old son asked.

I looked over at Daddy to see if he wanted to take a stab at that one.

"Well... he (pointing at the screen) was not telling the truth about something. He wasn't doing what was right," Daddy told him.

"Yes, they were husband and wife- married so he was doing something he wasn't supposed to do," I added.

There was silence for about five seconds- we'd hoped it was enough to explain.

"Oh. I thought she did it because her husband was on the phone with another woman," our son nonchalantly replied.

Kids know more than we think.

There will be innumerable opportunities for our kids to see Michael Jackson over the next few days, weeks, months. And opportunities for those of us who grew up during his reign, to Remember the Time when he was Bad. So I assume there are many, like me, in a little funk right now. So I didn't have to meet him, yet I feel like I knew him. I wish I could just "look over my shoulder and "he will be there." I will shed a few more tears, but it is okay to cry... it is just Human Nature.

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