Thursday, April 23, 2009

Concerts and kids

As most of you already know, my two daughters and I attend an Indigo Girls concert last night. It was a unique experience. I don't regret having done it, but I know now that four is too young for a formal concert experience. Boredom or tantrums I could've handled better than the emotionally distraught and disappointed. But first things first...

The concert was set to start at 7:30. Being a very anxious person (an anxiety which I unfortunately seem to have passed onto my youngest to a high degree) I was worried about parking, lines, etc, so we left the house at 5:30. It was an easy 30 minute drive to the town where the concert was held, and we found parking right away in the garage next to the theater. With 90 minutes now to kill, we decided to look around town. This was easy, since we were smack downtown with a Borders across from the theater and a Biggby Coffee next to it. We spent 30 minutes in Borders and each of the girls got a new book. This turned out to be a great decision, as Fiona's book came with one of those cheep magnetic drawing boards and this kept her entertained while waiting for the Indigo Girls to go on.

After Borders we went over to check out the theater. There was no line at all, so we went to Biggby's for hot chocolate for the girls and a much needed cappuccino for me. It was much needed mostly because the girls were practically having panic attacks as they were so worried about being late for the concert. My reasurances that we had an hour to wait fell on deaf ears though, so we ended up going into the theater and finding our seats a little before 7. The girls were still being really good, if anxious, and sat playing with and reading their new books.

We were in the fifth row from the front, great seats. We were also right in front of the speakers, good thing I had ear plugs for everyone! Actually, a really nice bouncer offered to give us all ear plugs, but prepared mama didn't need 'em.

Waiting for the opening act Fiona got more and more wound up, until she was in a frenzy of impatience. Thankfully the show started on time, and the opening act was nice, but Fiona wasn't into it at all. So we abandoned our seats after a few songs to go and get snacks and drinks. I should mention, at this point the theater was less than half full. I couldn't figure out where all the people were, as clearly the seats were sold... that is until we walked into the lobby. It was packed, you could barely move. See, there was a BAR in the lobby. Everyone was getting toasted, and it was not a cool vibe with kids. About half the women had that "mom" air about them, and smiled kindly at us. The other half looked at the kids as if they were dirt on their shoes. That sounds harsh, but it was a pretty clear attitude from a large number of people we encountered as we wound our way to the kiosk.

Another thing I'll throw out here, several people came up and asked me at various times how old the girls were, did I think they could handle it, wouldn't it be too loud for them, etc. Honestly I was surprised by the negativity. My memories of Indigo Girl's concerts on the West Coast in my twenties were of lots of happy, smily, girl power types. I don't know if it's a Michigan thing, or if it's just that we've all aged and the fans that were hippies back in the day (a whole 12 years ago!) are hardened now, but the vibe was not the same.

So, back to the story line, the girls and I got our snacks and headed back to our seats. Of course, right then the opening act ended, and we had to sit for 20 or 30 mintues waiting for the Indigo Girls to come on. At this point Fiona had enough of waiting and was starting to get vocal about it. Don't get me wrong, she was still doing fantastic for a kid who'd been waiting for something for 3 hours and was now at her bed time. Finally they came on and started playing songs off their new album. Uh oh. This is where the disappointment comes in. More like total heart break. Fiona started sobbing uncontrallably because they weren't singing anything she knew. Even when they played older songs, they weren't her songs. She was crying so hard she was shaking, it was awful. Consequently I didn't get to pay much attention to the show. Saskia at this point was polite, but also I think disappointed that she didn't recognize the songs. Still, she was interested and enjoying herself. But Fiona... after 6 or 8 songs, I'm not sure, I took her to the bathroom to calm down. Thank goodness, as we came back in they started playing her all-time favorite song, "Get Out the Map." She grooved to that, but started crying again when the next song was unfamiliar. At this point I pulled out my secret weapon, a massive bag of M&M's. Unfortunatley she just kept sobbing as she ate.

I guess we were at least half way through the show at this point, maybe more. This drunk guy kept screaming at them to play "Chickenman", so they did and Emily went into this really long, really awesome jam seassion on her guitar. It was so great. Everyone was standing at this point, so I went out into the aisle and started dancing with Fiona in my arms. Finally, she stopped crying. After the song the nice bouncer made everyone else go back to their seats, except us. He asked if I was okay and said we could stay there as long as we liked. The guy must have kids.

So that's how we watched the rest of the show. Me standing in the aisle, rocking Fiona. Towards the end they played two of our other favorites, "Shame on You" and "Closer to Fine" and Saskia got up and the three of us danced in the aisle. It was great, and just the experience I had been hoping for with them!

We took off after "Closer to Fine", it was 10:30, the show was clearly winding down and we were all exhausted. Driving home was awful, I was so spent emotionally and physically that I wasn't sure if I could get us home. In fact, a couple of times I seriously considered pulling over and calling my husband to come get us. Somehow we made it home.

To wrap it up, if you've made it this far... I don't regret taking the girls. Yes, Fiona was too young. I feel bad that the experience ended up being painful for her in some ways. I feel bad that Saskia got nothing from me during the concert, no girl bonding, because I was so focused on Fiona. But if we hadn't have gone, who knows? I've regretted not doing too many things in my life to have passed up on this opportunity. Hopefully it will come again, when they are older (and know more songs!) but if not we will always have their first concert, with me and a band that has been very influential on me. I suspect this entry reads as being very negative, but really it wasn't. I cherish this experience and I think that both the girls and I will look back on it fondly in years to come.


Michelle R said...

I also show up to everywhere very, very early. My kids are learning how to 'kill time', even if it's driving around a parking lot!

Thank you for sharing your experience! I'm proud of you for wanting to share your loves with your girls! It's always so disappointing when things don't go as you'd hoped! But maybe after some times passes, your bad memories of the evening will fade and only the good ones will shine through!

HomeSlice said...

i'll bet you a million bucks within a week or two both will be asking when they can go to the next one. every time i think i've traumatized my kids, they end up wanting more of it after they've had time to process it! you on the other hand may need years of therapy (and a massage).

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