No, the Bon Jovi lover is not me. I wasn’t even a fan during their late ’80s heyday. (Although I did manage to make my ultra-fine hair pretty big back then, with help from Sebastian Shaper Plus.)
The Bon Jovi fan is my seven-year-old son.
How did this happen, you ask? Well, in another incitement of my waldorf guilt, in November my two older kids pooled their money to buy Guitar Hero World Tour. And as much as I despise having a gaming system in the house, this game has less to despise. The kids play virtual music. Together. My favorite band incarnation is H on drums, Lulu on guitar and Mr. T on vocals. It wasn’t long before Mr. T was perfecting his own favorite song: Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ On A Prayer.”
It’s pretty funny hearing your seven-year-old traipsing around the house singing, “Oh, oh we’re halfway there, oh oh, livin’ on a prayer…” But not funny enough for my jokester of a husband. He had to intensify the situation. One day in December he took Mr. T out to do a little Christmas shopping. Mid-morning he called from his car.
“I bought him Slippery When Wet.”
“You bought what for who?” I asked.
“You know, Slippery When Wet, Bon Jovi’s big album. For Mr. T. We’re playing it now. He loves it!”
And so he does. He’s loved it over and over and over again. At high volume in his bedroom, jumping on and off his bed. Shouldn’t he be listening to They Might Be Giants or Ralph’s World? Or The Beatles, at the very least?
Of course, if you’ve learned anything about my youngest after reading this blog, you know how much he likes to talk. So for over a month our talk has had Bon Jovi references. Many references. And as I take part in these titillating discussions, I realize that Mr. T is actually learning a few things. Consider:
Music history: We spent the Christmas Eve drive to My Charming Husband’s parents’ house in a full-family discussion of whether Bon Jovi was considered hair metal. Were they better than typical hair metal bands? Weren’t they more in a class with Van Halen? Were they hair metal? (My guitar-playing husband–who never has been a metal fan, I’ll have you know–nevertheless insisted that Bon Jovi was not on a musical par with Van Halen.) So then we had a hair metal shout-out: Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot, Night Ranger, Ratt, Motley Crue (sorry, I’m not searching down an umlaut character on Motley Crue’s account). Stryper led to mention of Christian metal; then we had to acknowledge hair metal predecessors glam rock and heavy metal. Next thing we knew, My Charming Husband was talking about German metal, a category I didn’t imagine actually existed and the whole conversation pretty much disintegrated from there. Bring on the Christmas carols!
Current events: Mr. T came home from an evening at my parents’ house and told me that when he asked his Grammy if she liked Bon Jovi, she said yes because Bon Jovi did lots of good work for others. Really, I wondered? Bon Jovi? We quizzed Grammy over Christmas dinner. Turns out she’d mixed up Bon Jovi with Bon-o. (Silly Grammy.) Which led to further discussions of Rockers Who Do Good Work.
Music appreciation: Mr. T loves to nettle the rest of the family by insisting that Bon Jovi is better than The Beatles. At first we tried to give him concrete reasons for why this isn’t so. (Music. Lyrics.) But then we tired of his adamancy and just started nodding our heads sarcastically. Then one evening, during a nightly wrestling match between him and My Charming Husband, Mr. T decided it was a battle between Jon Bon Jovi and John Lennon. When it became clear that neither was winning, Mr. T stood on the couch and insisted that he’d morphed into a new mega-wrestler named Jon Bon Lennon. And then he pummeled his father.
Singing to his Mama that she gives love a bad name.
Etymology: At one point we explained to Mr. T that Jon Bon Jovi’s real name was John Bongiovi, which is Italian. And I told him that bon means “good” in French, and assumedly is a variation of the Italian word for good, buono. “What does giovi mean?” Mr. T wanted to know. “Can you google it?” So we did, and discovered that it’s a conjugated form of the verb giovare, which means “to be useful” or “to be good.” “That’s a lot of goodness,” Mr . T said. “What’s with all the Bon bands?” He was referring to one of my new faves, Bon Iver. So we googled Bon Iver and discovered that the name is a variant of bon hiver, French for “good winter.” (We also discovered some other interesting backstory which included mononucleosis and a Northern Exposure episode.) Fascinating stuff.
Yep, that’s why we homeschool: even mediocre hair metal bands can be learning opportunities. (Although Mr. T has moved on somewhat. Yesterday he was singing a different Guitar Hero song, Steve Miller Band’s “The Joker.” Luckily, I suppose, he wasn’t singing the original lyrics: I’m a joker, I’m a smoker, I’m a midnight toker. No, he was substituting names of the Hindu deities he’s been learning about: I’m a Brahma, I’m a Rama, I’m a Parashurama. I tell you, there’s never a dull moment around here.)
Too cute! You will have to tell your son that I have seen Bon Jovi twice in concert…once in the late 80’s, and then again in 2002. Could practically touch him both times. The 2002 visit was a charity event for a group called Robin Hood that helps fight poverty in NYC. So let him know that Bon Jovi does good work for others just like Bono 😉
Gina, regarding your question about whether or not our sunflower house worked: it didn’t exactly. The problem was that I got negligent about watering it. The sunflowers could handle the piddly amounts of water I gave them, but the morning glories couldn’t, so few of them grew as high as the web of strings. Of course, I didn’t realize what was going on until it was late in the season. So…I would definitely recommend trying a house of your own. Just make sure to keep watering it well. And if you have more space than we do, I’d aim for a large, square house, not the long rectangle that we had to settle for.
And thanks for leaving a comment, Niki! I’ve been meaning to write to you to thank you for friending me on Ravelry, but I don’t get over there as often as I’d like to. I will definitely share your Bon Jovi stories with Mr. T–he’ll eat them up!
That’s hilarious–what a son. Mr. Charming is an intriguing name for your husband. I’d like to hear more about that quality of his. Do you two rock out together, not literally, with the gaming system?
I love the pics. And also Jon Bon Lennon. And the idea: anything we might take an interest in is part of a culture and history. I often feel that we do thematic homeschooling not by having an overt theme but by learning about something new and then finding that our lives just riff on that theme, bringing it up over and over again in different ways.
I’ve been checking in on your blog for a while now, you are such a wonderful mom. I just told Noah tonight, if your life was a show, I’d totally watch it! I wish I had half the creativity that you have. Anyway, I’ve been meaning to write you, I tried to find your email but I’ve seemed to have lost it. But I was wondering if you could give me some pointers with homeschooling, mainly when did you start? I’m not really considering it at this point but I’m finding that Owen, now 4 and an only child, is so bored at home. I know I could be doing more with him, regardless if we homeschool or not. But I’m not sure where to start. Could you recommend some resources and at what age you started at? Thanks for any thoughts…you can email me if you’d like. Hope you are doing well.
Lovely photographs and what a gorgeous home you have!
oops that was meant to go under your yellow post.
Really, this is exactly the stuff I want to be able to show my extended family. What treasure. Thanks for making some future conversations easier!
Wow, Sue, you are really reading through the oldies! It was fun to revisit this post again, and to see my little guy rocking out to Bon Jovi. Alas, he moved on long ago–but that’s probably for the best!
Are you sure *this* is the sort of stuff you want to show your extended family? 😉