It’s 4 AM and we just returned home from a Vegas turnaround — with our kids. To go to a rock concert — with our kids. And you know what? It was the best time ever.
It wasn’t long ago that a trip like this was completely out of the question. We were parents of little ones homebound by virtue of nap times, feeding schedules, and our own exhaustion. Going out required careful planning, patience, and of course, a sense of humor. We did it, sure, but it wasn’t always fun. Somewhere between potty accidents, public meltdowns, and lost lovies, our world became very small.
We’d venture out only for short periods of time. We’d keep things local. We’d plan for the worst and hope for the best, dreaming of a day when it no longer needed to be this way. Eventually, that day came, but we were too comfortable to notice. We’d settled into a vanilla brand of togetherness focused on convenient family fun, but when we learned The Killers would be performing at the grand opening of the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, we threw caution to the wind somewhere along I-15.
Concert-going wasn’t something we ever considered doing with kids. Live concerts are expensive. They let out late and dates are often on school nights. They’re deafening. Crowded. There’s crazy drunk people, weed stench, and bathroom lines that go on for miles. And an overnight road trip to Vegas? Please. The last time my husband and I successfully managed one of those, Clinton was in office. Besides, we had enough energy back then to be the loud, drunk people!
But this was The Killers, and in a strange way, they’ve always been a part of our family soundtrack. I distinctly remember my toddler screaming “I’m Mr. Brightsyyyyyyyyyy!” from his navy, checkered car seat on the way to daycare. Then there was that time we cleverly reworked “Somebody Told Me” into a family birthday anthem. Even now, “Don’t Shoot Me, Santa” has become more of a holiday staple in our home than Santa himself.
It wasn’t until the house lights went down and the first chord ripped through the massive sold-out arena that I realized, this age, this stage in my kids’ lives, is quite possibly the greatest thing ever. At 8 and 13 years old, both of my kids were now finally old enough to travel somewhere really far away to do a really cool thing on very little notice. I didn’t have to pack days-worth of snacks or a carload of entertainment to keep them busy. I didn’t have to trouble myself with gadgets or gear, designed to make their travel more comfortable. All I had to do was tell them to grab a jacket, buckle up, and prepare to rock.
And they seemed ready for the adventure. For once, my teen wasn’t glued to his phone. He was digging it. He was feeling us. For once, my kids weren’t fighting. They were singing, dancing, and even kind of sharing a popcorn. And in that two-hour set, it was glorious to celebrate how far we’d come. We’d made it past potty training and picky eating. We’d graduated from Little Einsteins and The Wiggles to reach a harmonious groove, and not just in the music. We’d grown up together quite literally, and there was real magic in it.
Apropos of everything, as the encore of “When You Were Young” played, it struck me: we’ve reached the bridge of our song as parents. We may not be able to hold on to this stage forever, but we can enjoy it as much as we can, for as long as we can, as loud as we can. And that’s our plan.More On