My children amaze me…

My children amaze me. The other night I was putting my 5 year old twin boys to sleep. I briefly sang a passage from one of the songs from the play “West Side Story”, and one of them said he thought he remembered that song from somewhere (Which is amazing by itself since I can’t string two in tune notes together to save my life!!). So we spent the next hour downloading songs from West Side Story, Les Miserables, Phantom of the Opera, etc.

They LOVED the music, which really isn’t a surprise as their mother is VERY musical and even though I can’t sing I know every word to all the plays/musicals I mentioned above and many others. I was happy that they loved this type of music.

What I was surprised about is that they wanted to watch the plays over and over. West Side Story is a play with complex racial issues and deals with love and hate in an adult way. Phantom of the Opera is a wonderful play and the movie is almost as good as going to see it done live. It deals with a lonely, love starved individual that turns to evil ends in his desire to force someone to love him. My 5 year olds seem to get and understand all these messages in a very grown up and understanding way. I didn’t think there was any way they would sit through an almost 3 hour movie that is portrayed through song the entire time.

Sometimes we don’t give kids credit with the ability to feel, and think through complex emotions and situations. I think they are smarter than we give them credit for (I know I made that mistake). So next time I say to myself – They won’t like that, Ill reconsider and give them the chance to enjoy something that I thought they maybe wouldn’t have loved as much as myself.

Matt Heaton /

16 Responses to “My children amaze me…”

  1. Marcos Stefanakopolus says:

    They enjoy them, no doubt, but probably for different reasons than you would (or than you would think).

    West Side Story is an interesting example. Adults, definitely, respond to the race and class issues in the film. And although the particular racial conflict seems almost laughably tame by today’s standards (who, today, would really care that Sophia Lauren’s character was supposed to have been hispanic?), it was certainly a daring move in its time.

    But from what I know about childhood mental development, younger kids are probably cluing in on other things. The music, obviously. Most kids just love music. But also, the colors and costumes. If you watch that movie with a careful eye (or watch the extras on the DVD) you’ll see that the costume and set designers paid a HUGE amount of attention to the use of color in the film. Partly this was because it was a color film produced near the point in cinema history when color went mainstream, and was to a certain extend still an avant-garde thing, and partly also because the movie itself deals with issues of “color”. But whatever the reason, the result is a visual palette of strong, primary and secondary colors. Kids tend to dig that sort of stuff, too. I mean, go through your kids toy cabinet and just count the number of toys that make use of vivid, saturated colors as part of their appeal.

    Don’t get me wrong–I don’t mean in any way to denigrate your kids–and I think it’s great that they can appreciate that type of content. But while they probably do understand the broad themes of the movie (these people don’t like those people), I doubt their understanding is as nuanced much beyond that. Which is not at all to say that their enjoyment isn’t real. It is. It’s just different.

    Look at it this way: have you ever gone back and watched Bugs Bunny cartoons that you remember from when you were a kid? Think about all the adult-oriented jokes and themes did you spot in them that you totally missed when you were a kid? That stuff was there all along, waiting for you to discover it when you grew up, but not in any way contributing to your enjoyment of Bugs Bunny when you were still the target audience.

  2. Charles says:


    We are raising 2 grandchildren at home and it is evident that they pick up more words and information from songs or shows that they enjoy. Its to bad that math, science, etc. isn’t taught through musicals or cartoon shows.

    The elements of television that you don’t want them pick up are the ones that they learn first.

    One of the main things that influences children like yours is their genes and the positive environment that they are brought up in.

    This breeds positive actions and thinking which heads them in the right direction to be successful in life just as you have been.

    I would dare to say that a high percentage of the problems that school age children face originates from the home environment that they are brought up in.

    As with the grandchildren at home, it is very hard to retrain them once they have been in a negative environment for a while. It’s even hard for me to remember that they had this past and be patient enough with them to help them move in the right direction.


  3. Kaleb says:

    My brother was 5 and saw The Phantom of the Opera movie. For weeks he would dress up in a cape and stage mask and pop up around the house, lurking in doorways and corners in Phantom-fashion. Seeing the rendition on film exposed him to a work of art he wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. The filmmakers did a wonderful job on it.

  4. Karleen says:

    Your kids are showing interest in what they are talented in. At 5 my oldest son started plucking away at the piano and learned to play it fantastically! But he’d been hearing music from day one in the womb from my own singing and playing guitar. I am a music teacher :) and now I’m going to go buy some more webspace so I can start that music thingy I’ve been thinking about online.

  5. Jerzy says:


    It sounds like you have a young musician duo on your hands. Bring the boys to the orchestra, see how they responds, and ask them which instruments each thinks are neat and why. Get them separate or combined lessons for at least 6 months — see if it sticks. Be sure to be part of his education by paying attention to his lessons and taking joy in the process with him. Also, if either of your sons is showing interest in the performing arts let him be a part of a community theater play. It is a great experience to build confidence for a youngster.

    The arts are a wonderful outlet for children to express themselves. Plus, both instruments and plays are free babysitting. :-)

    Good luck with twins!

  6. fred says:

    i would occasionally listen to the broadway station on my sirius radio during car rides and my 6 year old son would sing along.

    “where do you know these songs from?” I would ask.

    The Muppet Show. we got alohd of old episodes from the late 70’s early 80’s that he really loved. they would have all sorts of broadway starts. he even cited Joel Grey by name when the song from cabaret came on.

    amazing. kids retain so much at this age.

  7. JHawk says:

    Wow… you did all that while putting the kids to bed? What time did the twins get to sleep! :-)


  8. I found the same thing with my kids. And it did not have to be just popular musicals. Opera also works. I think it is the combination of the music, dance and usually a simple story line with often exaggerated characters that is appealing.

    But there’s no question about it -they’ll sit gaping at the tube.

    Also I seem to remember Rita Moreno and Natalie Wood but not Sophia Loren. The again, it’s been a long time…

  9. Connie says:


    You are so lucky! There will be many years to come of sharing and enjoying life with your children.

    My daughter also picked up on musicals at age five. She started dance at 8, joined the choir, and collected CDs of every broadway play ever produced and memorized every lyric. She was exposed to every type of music in dance. She was in West Side Story at school and then played the lead in Peter Pan (that’s a good one for kids!). Many ballets and dance competitions later, she danced with Disney for three years and was a Radio City Rockette. She got married last year and settled down to start a family, and is teaching dance in California.

    Anyway, it was so wonderful to be involved in all the music and dance and art, and to watch the kids learn and develop over the years. Whatever your children choose to pursue, it’s a wonderful gift for them and for you to support and encourage them! You have much to look forward to!

  10. melis says:

    My much younger brother and sister loved both the Sound of Music and the West Side Story when they were very young. I would put either of those movies in every week, and they would sit and watch the whole movie every week! I, too, find it so fascinating how children can appreciate beauty and art at such a young age. My siblings are now 12 and 15, but they still show clues of their appreciation of fine music and film.

  11. Hi Matt,
    Having just spent two weeks with a very boyish boy and his sister, I, too, was happily surprised at how today’s kids seem to have no problem blasting out show tunes, and can often deconstruct some stuff that you and I would be afraid might be beyond them.

    The other thing, of course, is that kids can sometimes see the basic truths that adults confuse when we overanalyse stuff. West Side Story, for example: kids see the “Forbidden Love” thing. The rest – the reasons why the love is forbidden – are constructs of the adult world. All kids know is, these characters love each other, and that can’t be wrong, but bad people try to stop them being together.

    Aaaanyways, I’m getting diverted from why I wanted to comment: I wanted to suggest you put a THANK YOU button on your front page. Two of your support dudes just helped me fix a disastrous attempt by myself to update my blog (done as smoothly as Edward Scissorhands mght do open heart surgery). My initial “Oh Sh**” turned into terror when I realised I’d just lost all of the blogging I did in the run up to my weddin two years ago.

    I didn’t get the support staff’s name, but they deserve a big THANKS, and I thought I’d ask you to pass it on (in between running the company and trying to remember the words to “Gee Office Krupke” 8))

    Thanks v much,


  12. Rob says:

    Yeah, if your kids are interested in music you should encourage them to play something, even if its hard or they are bad at it.

    I’m 20 now and I wish my mom had “forced” me to learn to play an instrument such as piano or something when I was younger.

  13. Niki says:

    Hi matt,

    sorry about my first short message, my finger hit enter and am not sure what happens next. Previously I was saying that I love to here when children get involved in something that is constructive and enjoy doing it. It seems like you got yourself some lovely kids. Keep up the good work Matt.

  14. Andrew says:

    FINALLY! In my seek for sponsors for my robotics team, building a website, starting a business, I have seen tons of discrimination against children thinking they can’t do anything. There is no reason why a 14-year old can’t run a business, no reason why a 14-year old should be considered less than someone older for sponsorship, no reason why a 14-year old can’t have a political discussion or like above, watch and understand a complex storyline.

    BTW Your children from the sounds of it have a pretty high chance of being gifted. You should enroll them in something like computer programming, music, writing, etc… and let their mind’s flow and expand.

  15. Esteem says:

    Haha that’s quite interesting. They sound like smart children.

  16. Franko says:

    Well kids are much smarter and sensitive than we think. Just because they can’t express themselves as good as we can we tend to underrate them.

Leave a Reply