"I believe the children are our future..." OK, yes that's Whitney and we all know how that ended up but the lyrics to this song were right on the nose and I actually do think that the children are our future, etc. I've always believed that kids are just short grown-ups. It works for me because I'm only 5'1".
My name is Shoshana Sperling and I'm a children's entertainer. This might be coming across as confessional and that's because I really need my own support group. Being raised in a Marxist household seemed totally normal to me. I had walked my first picket line by age three. As a child, grown-ups laughed when I said I wanted to be a revolutionary who was going to save the world. But there was never a question in my mind that many voices could make change.
Many years later it is more important than ever for us to "teach them well and let them lead the way." This is where the Monkey Bunch comes in. The Monkey Bunch is my rock band that makes music full of guts and heart and humour for children. It is a call to arms... well, little wee fleshy arms.
You might think that performing for children is a cute endeavour. Let me set you straight. First of all, the parents: Their texting and talking on the phone, and occasional nipple flash (in preparation for breast feeding) is quite common but not unlike a Billy Talent show. As for the kids, the possibility of stumbling patrons and a bit of pee or vomit... well, that's right up there with Woodstock. Never mind that the mosh pit can get downright sticky/stinky.
The reward? Well, kids are the most honest audience in the world. They rarely applaud at the end of a song because they don't know that's a "thing." Some may hold their ears and scream through the first tune because they can't believe how loud a drumset is when it's not Fisher-Price. They shout random statements like, "Why are you playing this song?" or "MORE CLAPPING!" and "Want my juice?" OK. But they are honest.
If they like it I get hugs. Kids don't hug, or thank grandparents, if they don't want to. And these are seriously good hugs. Sure, I'm always fighting a mix of Pinkeye, Lice and Pinworms but man, it's worth it. It's so worth it that I wish the people wearing the larger shoe sizes would stop saying kids and politics don't mix. Encouraging kids to care about this big planet that we all share is definitely in my mix.
During a recent tour, I received an email from a disgruntled dad who was VERY upset because we had sung a song about an electric car: "Children's entertainment should be fun and you should keep your opinions in the dressing room." Oy. Do we look like the Dixie Chicks?
No, but here we are celebrating our second, Juno-nominated album, Power to the Little People, and not all, but most parents are really really thankful: "thanks for saying Mums and Mums and Dads and Dads," or "My daughter told me to stop running the car. I had no idea," and of course, "this is the first children's album we've listened to that doesn't make us want to put a needle in our eyes." That's rather nice to hear.
I like what I'm doing. Now I just need to convince the grown-ups that kids deserve to have great music and authentic humour that teaches them something. That children are not too small to have opinions about recycling, libraries and electric cars. Yes, sometimes the lines are blurred and the kids have no idea why Dad is laughing at what the short lady on stage just said about the mayor, but little Roxanne is just pleased that Daddy is having a good time with her and not texting for the first time all day.
As I say to the kids, "Remember, the person sitting next to you could be a person too."