With Mother’s Day in our rearview mirror, it’s time to jump back on the hamster wheel that is May. The focus of this week: concerts.
Of all the events that crowd our calendar, I look forward to the concert season the most. There’s something about seeing my kids playing their hearts out that trips the my tear-switch every time.
My guess is that over the course of four years, we’ve attended 25+ concerts for our oldest son. This week alone he’s performing in a jazz band one night, symphonic band the next, and an orchestra concert on the following evening. And we’ve brought our younger kids along to almost all these performances.
So if you’re a rookie concert-parent with younger children tagging along, let me give you the low-down on how your evening might go:
1. Navigating the parking lot. For us, parking at these concerts is nightmarish. Even though you’ll have a long run-up to the start time, it’s better to find parking first. Trust me. And take it from a veteran: you’re going to want to choose your parking spot with an eye on an easy exit, rather than closest to the building.
2. Finding your seats. It’s not as easy as you might think. You’ve got to figure in camera angles to get a photo of your child despite all the other kids, instruments, music stands and (in our case) basketball hoops dangling from the gym ceiling. You need a space that allows for a little wiggle room. This is especially important if you are bringing little kids, but I find I get twitchy throughout a long performance too. We usually try to snag the top row of bleachers so we can lean back against the wall and so that no one will accidentally knee us in the spine as the concert goes on.
3. The waiting is the hardest part. Then there’s the long waiting period while the musicians are backstage tuning and warming up. Prepare yourself for any combination of the following:
A. “I’m thirsty.” Just about the moment you settle into your spots, one of the kids will suddenly realize that he is positively dying of thirst. Up you go to walk the child down, but only after trying to convince the other one to come along as well. Of course, the one who isn’t parched at that second refuses to go, busy with his word-searches or sudoku challenges. I guarantee you he’ll only be thirsty after you return.
B. “Where’s my program?” After a brief run to the fountain and picking your way back up the bleachers, you’ll have another quiet moment. Then someone will realize that he didn’t get a concert program but his sister did. Tense negotiations will ensue, and a complicated program time-share compromise/detente will result. At least for the next few minutes.
C. “Hey, I know that kid!” Usually at about this point, one of the children will look around at the growing crowd and see some of his friends sitting with their own families. Lots of arm-waving and hand-signalling happens, and then the entreaties start. “Can’t I just run down to say hi, Mom? Please?”
D. “Where’s the bathroom?” With 5 minutes to go and the band members taking their seats onstage, someone will need to use the bathroom. (And honestly, it’s not always my kids who need to go at that point.) Spring concerts last a while and sitting high up in the stands is not conducive for an emergency sprint to the restroom. The trick is to get up and back quickly enough that those left behind can fend off the last-minute seat poachers. Not as easy as you think.
4. Be ready for the parent paparazzi. As the students sit, get into position for the run of parents to the front to get the “money-shot.” I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of this as well, although now my husband tries to find a good angle and boost the zoom on our camera to get a picture without leaving our seats.
5. Crayons are your best friend. When our younger kids were in preschool and kindergarten, crayons and new little notebooks kept their attention while the music played. Best of all, they didn’t have batteries to wear down, mute buttons that suddenly switched to full-volume, or wi-fi. Greatest invention ever, the crayon.
6. The post-concert wrap-up. Right after the concert, it’s as though someone yelled that there’s free ice cream in the parking lot. Everyone beats an exit to the doors, grabbing kids and instruments and taking off. It’s crazy. Just make sure you take home the instrument that belongs to you. That goes for the kid as well.
And the most important thing: enjoy every minute of the music that your child is creating. All that practice really does pay off.
Are you in Spring concert season too? How’s your May going?