Pumped up for 19 Minutes?

Foster the People’s PUMPED UP KICKS is present on most all of the “Best of 2011” music countdowns.  You know which one I’m talking about…

Pumped Up Kicks

Robert’s got a quick hand.  He’ll look around the room, he won’t tell you his plan.  He’s got a rolled cigarette hanging out his mouth.  He’s a cowboy kid.

I remember the first time I heard that song.  It was late summer, early fall.  I had just dropped Angel Girl off at school and was sitting in the parking lot next to SonShine’s football practice trying be a good mom and actually pick out my kid among the 75 7th graders who all looked a whole lot alike out there on the field.  I remember turning up the volume because it has a really catchy lead-in, and I thought the voices were kinda cool…

Yeah! He found a six-shooter gun.  In his dad’s closet, hidden with the box of fun things, I don’t even know what.  But he’s coming for you.  Yeah, he’s coming for you.

“Wow!  That’s a little hard core,” I thought, but I didn’t pay too much attention; after all, most every song on the radio has some sort of shock factor built in these days.  And the beat really is quite catchy!!!

All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run, better run, outrun my gun.  All the other kids with the pumped up kicks, you better run, better run, faster than my bullet.

Did they say, “pumped up kicks?”  Is that what I think it is?  Fancy tennis shoes??

I was pretty sure that I had it right, but what better source to consult than my 13-year old?  So, after thinking about it in the back of my mind all day, I asked SonShine as soon as he got in the car after school:

Me: SonShine, what are “pumped up kicks?”

SonShine: I don’t know…where’d you see that?

Me: I heard it in a song today…

SonShine: Oh.

Yep, that was the extent of the conversation.  Obviously, I was over-thinking things which is NOT uncommon at our place.

So, I dropped it.  Until I heard the song again.  And again.  And again!  And I found myself singing every word (don’t forget that tune is REALLY catchy),  and I found my kids singing every word.  And we’re jamming out, we’re singing silly, and we’re dancing in the car every time it comes on.  And then I couldn’t decide, “Do I even like this song or not? Should I like this song? CAN I like this song? And if I DON’T like it, why can’t I turn it off?”

See, here’s my hang-up.  Here’s the reason I can’t determine if it is good or bad:

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

In nineteen minutes, you can mow the front lawn, color your hair, watch a third of a hockey game.  In nineteen minutes, you can bake scones or get a tooth filled by a dentist; you can fold laundry for a family of five.

Nineteen minutes is how long it took the Tennessee Titans to sell out of tickets to the play-offs.  It’s the length of a sitcom, minus the commercials.  It’s the driving distance from the Vermont border to the town of Sterling, New Hampshire.

In nineteen minutes, you can order a pizza and get it delivered.  You can read a story to a child or have your oil changed.  You can walk a mile.  You can sew a hem.

In nineteen minutes, you can stop the world, or you can just jump off it.

In nineteen minutes, you can get revenge.

Like all the very best books that change lives and impact the world, Nineteen Minutes is really, really tough to read.  There are times throughout the story, when reading the words on the page cause a sickening, nauseas sensation.  At other times, I couldn’t see through my tears or catch my breath for the pain in my heart.

Yes, it is that good.  And it is a story that every educator and every parent MUST read.  A second reading won’t be necessary, though, because the story will never leave the reader once the words and the sadness are absorbed.

Every parent and every educator have to read Nineteen Minutes because kids with guns and fancy shoes are every person’s problem, and yet no single person is to blame for violent tragedies.  There is no ONE enemy because EVERYONE is at fault.

I wish I was a magical writer so that every person who reads this brief review would run out and purchase, borrow, or download Nineteen Minutes – immediately.  I wish I had the words to convey how hugely important reading this story is to being a complete parent.  I wish it wasn’t necessary to talk about (or sing about) youth bullying, school violence, and kids with guns.  I wish I could snap my fingers, blink my eyes, twitch my nose, or wave my wand and make this a world in which 19 minutes aren’t the difference between a happy childhood and a dead child.

I wish I could say for sure if I like that stinkin’ song or not!

But I can’t.  So, instead, I’m gonna dry my eyes and go hug and love and kiss on my two gifts, my greatest achievements, the two blessings I could never deserve.  I’m going to tell my two kids how beautiful they are to me so that they can never doubt, not for one second, how much they are loved and accepted and needed and wanted.

And I hope you’ll do the same.

My 2 Greatest Gifts: Giggly & Goofy

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