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What Happens When You Take Your Kids to the Fun. Concert

funamazon2013’s Grammy-winning Best New Artist Fun. puts on a pretty hopping show. I had the chance to check out their Most Nights tour at Utah’s historic Saltair (once known as “The Coney Island of the West“) last weekend.

The energy was high, and Fun.’s songs — anthems, really — sounded fantastic. It was the perfect end-of-summer treat.

Oh, and I had my 4 kids in tow.

We all loved it. Collectively, from my little girl, age 6, to my oldest son, now 16, we knew most of the words.

Do you ever take your kids to concerts?

One thing I really like about going to concerts is that it’s still basically the same experience it was when I was a kid. It costs more and you buy the tickets online, but parking is still a pain. You still have to stand there and wait between bands. Lines for the women’s restroom are long. And even though we hold phones up now instead of lighters, it still feels just the same to hear your favorite band live. There’s a camaraderie among the crowd, which is usually quite diverse, that is bonding and fun. I imagine people who run marathons feel the same way but, hello! So much more fun to prepare for a concert than a big long race. Am I right?

My husband and I made the hour-long drive to Saltair with the kids in the back of the van and Some Nights blaring on the radio. I’m not going to lie to you and say we were all blissed out with no bickering or crying on the way there. Newsflash: There is always bickering and crying. So if you just had a baby let me assure you that it doesn’t get better. But you care less. In that way it gets better. When we hit the parking lot, traffic backed up onto the off-ramp, I kind of felt bad for the youngsters in front of and behind us. That’s right, hipsters. We are middle-aged and in a van and we are here too. So what does that say about you and your cool factor? Not much, my friends. Not much. (Burn.)

My husband is a great sport and always enjoys the concerts I drag him to, but he’s an earplug guy. Me, I’m a slowly-losing-a-small-percentage-of-my-hearing-at-each-concert guy. To me, the next day’s ear-ringing is worth it, not unlike the delicious taste of a curry that lingers. Like Beethoven, I know I will one day be deaf to the very music I love. I press on willingly towards my fate because I’m totally banking on a cochlear ear plant. Can I get a what what!

My husband just started a Sweeto Burrito food truck. It took a lot for him to pull himself away from the truck for the concert. He kept checking the sales online on his phone. He’s obsessed with it, and it’s a pretty fun venture. But once we hit the crowds at Saltair, the cell tower must have been jammed or overloaded or whatever happens when too many people with cell phones are posting concert selfies to Instagram. He couldn’t check his numbers. As a result, he laid down on the grass after the opening band and took a much-needed nap. See? Concerts just can’t be beat.

selfieYou know how dads are considered major heroes whenever they take their kids out on errands? My husband gets the warmest looks and nicest comments on Saturdays at Lowes whenever he has the kids with him. I’m just a haggard mom when I go places with them.

But it’s different at a concert because there is an abundance of good will. It was an all-ages venue and there were several kids there, but everyone thought it was so great that I had my kids at a Fun. concert. People were friendly and let me cut in line for the bathroom. Drunk people were careful not to bump or step on my kids. I reveled in the positive attention. Finally. I’m getting a little respect for being a mom! Only at a concert, I tell you.

I sing at the top of my lungs at concerts. Just so you know. My kids know this. They are embarrassed by me, but I pay my 40 bucks to be there just like everyone else, so I’m going to enjoy myself, is how I see it. I’m pretty self-conscious in real life. I don’t know if it’s good or bad for my kids to see me pump my fist and play air symbols — yes, it’s a thing … actually, no. It’s not a thing — but why not let them see me as more than their driving, check-writing, chore-nagging, posture-correcting mom?

Concerts almost always have smoking, drinking, and swearing. I don’t condone those things. I teach my kids not to do them. I don’t do them. I’m not judging you for what you do or don’t teach your kids — that’s just how it is for me. I’m old-fashioned and strict. A prude, even. It’s how I am and I feel like it’s right for my family. As a mom, you teach young children absolutes. The fact that the world has gray areas and exceptions and hard questions with tricky answers comes up later. But yes, 6-year-old, you must brush your teeth every night or they will get sugar bugs on them. I don’t tell my young children that eventually all those baby teeth just fall out so, who cares-let’s- have-a-free-for-all because I’m teaching habits and values and all that. You can’t let things go. Parenting is hard core. You spend a lot of time setting standards. And enforcing them.

So how do you teach a kid tolerance? Tolerance is at least as important as not smoking, in my opinion. But in my family’s day-to-day I make it my business not to tolerate bad manners, mean comments, slacking off. If my 13-year-old started smoking? I wouldn’t tolerate that.

On our way to the concert I told my children, “We are going to hear the f-word tonight. We are just going to ignore it. ” Yes. I’m that mom.

But maybe once a year or so it’s OK for my kids to see me standing shoulder to shoulder and singing with all sorts and types of people, some who smoke, drink, or swear. Maybe they don’t know, because of my strict momness, that I can be in the world and interact happily with other people who might not be exactly like me. Maybe they don’t know that at the heart of things, I accept them and love them no matter what and I always will, even if they stop brushing their teeth.

I know the song “We Are Young” is about getting fall-down drunk. Do I approve of getting fall-down drunk? No. True story: I’ve never even been stand-up drunk. Do I prohibit naughty songs with swears? You betcha. Does it bother me when my daughter belts out, “So let’s set the world on fi-yuh. We can burn bri-duh . . .  than the sun!” Not at all. In fact I encourage it. Because it’s a dang fine tune. And even though it mentions drugs, there’s a macro-message to the song that is genius and lovely and belt-from-the-booster-seat approved. It’s like, yeah man—We are the champions.

I can’t really explain why our Fun. concert experience was worth the price of 6 (!) tickets, 4 t-shirts, and 6 cups of soda, but to me it was. Ellen fell asleep on my husband’s shoulder before the encore even started. He hauled her out to the overflow parking lot, put her in the car, buckled her up, and pulled the van around to wait for the rest of us to come out after the encore and beat traffic.

So if by the time the bar closes

and you feel like falling down

I’ll carry you home tonight.

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