I got in trouble in a staff meeting one time because I made the comment that I didn't like kids. Granted, I was the Children's Director at a church at the time, so I can see why that statement didn't go over very well. In my defense, my comment was made in jest, and in a context that should have been understood, but obviously was not. I seemed to get in trouble for stuff like that a lot when I worked at a church. I don't work at a church anymore.
Let me explain my comment. I am the youngest of five children so I didn't have to engage with younger siblings or watch a little brother and sister. I didn't babysit much growing up. I have never felt even the slightest inclination to work at a daycare. For most of my 20s and early 30s, I really had little desire to spend much time with children other than my own. I did the occasional child-swap-you-watch-mine-I'll-watch-yours-so-we-can-stay-sane with other moms, but that was about it.
Please understand, I fiercely love my own kids. And not only do I love my kids, I like them. I think they're the coolest people on the planet and being their mom is IT for me. But other people's kids? Well, they're awesome too - in doses. Surely some of you parents can relate. Please tell me you can. If you say you can't, you're lying.
Over the years, especially the last 15 years, I have grown immensely in this whole kid-appreciation thing. I think that's due to a variety of reasons. First, I hope I've simply grown up a bit. Second, I've met a lot of adults who drive me crazy and in turn met a lot of kids who are much cooler and honestly more mature than some adults, so I'd rather hang out with the kids. I'm probably just hoping their coolness rubs off on me. Lastly, over the years, God has revealed some gifting in my life that I have been attempting to steward well as it relates to connecting with kids and equipping them to impact their world. I have also become increasingly aware of the amazing capacity kids have in the area of creativity, and in turn, have felt more and more compelled to encourage them in their creative pursuits. They need the encouragement because being a creative kid can mean walking a tough road paved with ridicule and misunderstanding. I know because I was a creative kid and I have raised / am raising four creative kids.
Many of these thoughts are the reason behind a new project I'm working on, which I can't tell you much more about right now. Sorry - cruel teaser - stay tuned. But all of this also speaks to why I feel so strongly about writing kids music, why I think it's so darn hard to do it well, and why it is so important. When I was pregnant with Houston, I recorded my first album of kids music, mostly just to share the songs I had written for my own kids. It went over pretty well. Since then, I've recorded multiple other kids projects, including musicals and Vacation Bible School materials. The process taps into a whole other part of my brain and in many ways, is one of the more challenging things I get to do. Writing songs for kids that are current, memorable, and use vocabulary that is listener-friendly while still not lowering the bar educationally or theologically, is just not easy. I'm competing with radio and Disney and gaming and youtube and all the other options kids have to hear music. What I write can't just be as good as all that; it has to be better. And that isn't easy to do.
A few years ago I took a two-day retreat with my friends Lisa Q and Sue C to work on songs for a VBS curriculum. I can't remember how many songs we wrote that weekend, but I remember laughing our butts off while chasing several ideas. I mentioned earlier how writing kids stuff is difficult, but it is also a heck of a lot of fun; thus the laughter. I recently rediscovered one of the work tapes we made that weekend and oh, gosh.... I would share it but I'm pretty sure you'd think we were intoxicated. Which we weren't, I swear.
One song from that weekend writing session has found life beyond that VBS curriculum we originally wrote it for. Later this year, the song posted below will also be included in a new kids musical I wrote on the Biblical Metanarrative. That would be the big story of scripture: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration - easy peasy kid fluff. Ummm, not. It was one of the toughest projects I think I've ever done and honestly, I'm pretty proud of how it is turning out. I can't wait to share it with you when it is released.
I take my responsibility of writing kids music very seriously and as I mentioned before, I refuse to lower the bar on what kids can absorb, memorize, and the wisdom they can impart to others. They are capable, eager and deserve the best songs I can give them. And if they end up laughing their butts off too sometimes, well then I will really think I've done my job well. Here's the lyric to one of the fun ones. Enjoy!
Gina Boe / Sue Christensen / Lisa Qualsett
Hey, what's up with the rattlesnake and all that scaly skin
And what's up with the billy goat and the whiskers on its chin
Yeah what's up with that jiggly thing on every turkey's neck
What's up with all the stuff that I don't get
What's up is God's an artist and His work is everywhere
From creepy-crawlers in the ground to birds up in the air
Each sunset is a masterpiece He paints across the sky
Then turns it into shiny stars at night
He's the Great Imaginator
Our incredible Creator
And everything that He creates is marvelous it's true
He's the Wonderful Designer
And the whole world's a reminder
Of how amazing our God is and all that He can do
Each corner of creation is a little mystery
It's all about God showing us His creativity
And even though some parts of us might seem a little strange
There's reasons why He made it look that way