By Carla Taylor-Pla
We can wear purple. We can play his music. We can even show them pictures of ourselves in the eighty’s after a concert. Still, there’s no way we can communicate to our children what Prince meant to us because we are still deciphering what he meant to us, still shocked and unsettled by our own sense of loss — and our kids are just too young to understand. But we can try to share his legacy with a few simple lessons.
Be Yourself. Embrace What Makes You Different.
We start teaching this to children in preschool. I remember a song I loved in my nursery school called “Free to Be You and Me.” I’d run around in a circle every time I heard it because it made me happy. It gave me a vague idea of the power one gains from loving oneself as one is, as I was. Power over oneself is the decision to let go of, or at least question, those societal norms that hold us back. In other words, asking the question, “Why?”
Prince, clearly, was not restricted by societal boundaries of gender and race. He was a true dandy in the classic sense with his flamboyant fashion, frilly lace shirts, and heals. His appearance crossed gender lines. His music crossed racial lines. In fact, I don’t remember anyone discussing race in relation to Prince. While race is important, with Prince it was tertiary. There were just too many other things about his persona that we wanted to experience. His music, beyond genius, shared the funk of James Brown, the guitar solos of rock, and the supreme cool of this unique man we called Prince. White, Black, male, female or however we chose to identify ourselves – we all wanted to party (and still do) like it’s 1999.
Do What You Love. Work Hard.
Find a career that feeds your soul, and yes, your pocketbook too, grasshopper. Prince accomplished this with a lot of hard work. Let’s remind our children that while Prince [INSERT NAME OF YOUR KID’S FAVORITE HERO] was a master of his craft, he had to practice and work hard to become that way. Too often children get frustrated if they don’t do something the “right” way right away. Prince may have gotten frustrated at times, but he never gave up. Neither should our children, us or anyone who wants to succeed. It’s called “mastery” and it takes patience.
Learn About Your Industry, Not Just Your Job.
Not only was Price a brilliant musician, but he was knowledgeable about the business side of his industry, including the complexities of contract negotiations. Further, he mastered all aspects of being a musician: singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, dancer, and performer extraordinaire. Can we help our kids understand the importance of at least understanding, if not mastering, all of the components that influence their professional success?
Think About What You Want to Do to Help Future Generations, (like your great-great grandchildren)?
Prince’s music is his legacy. While this is too abstract for most preschoolers, you can put it in terms they understand: “Would you like to do something to help people? What would that be if it could be anything?” Maybe it’s a cure for the Zika virus, a better way to preserve the environment, or eradicating hunger. Let’s teach our kids that the first step to becoming a real-life Prince (or Princess) is knowing that nothing is too big or too insignificant for us to tackle if we think it worthy of our time and love.
I'm Carla Taylor-Pla, author of the patented book SCHOOL IS NEW TO ME: A Beginner's Guide to Starting School. My daughter, Liv, is my inspiration for it all.