First concerts are a big deal. My first is slightly embarrassing: New Kids On The Block, Oakland Coliseum. Give me a break though. I was an eleven year old girl in 1989, and I hustled to get those tickets. One of the after-school clubs at my brother’s high school was raffling off 4 tickets to see them. I had a little bit of babysitting money*, but not enough to buy myself a concert ticket. I went halvsies with every New-Kid loving middle school girl in my class and bought twice as many raffle tickets as I could have afforded on my own. My plan worked when a little girl named Georgia won. I remember wearing a teal sweater with my tightrolled jeans and teasing my bangs to the heavens. I wanted to look my best if I was going to be in the same room as the love of my eleven year old life. At the end of the song, “My Favorite Girl,” my favorite new kid pointed in my general direction. I was seated in the back of the nosebleed seats, but I was certain that he meant ME.**
*In the 1900’s, people trusted eleven year olds to watch their babies.
** baby narcissist
Last night, my daughter went to her first real concert. She’s not going to remember it but I will never forget it. We have been to street festivals and such, but last night, I took my 2 year old daughter to Wolf Trap in Vienna, Virginia to see Ingrid Michaelson. Her ticket stub is saved and will be placed in a ticket stub album as soon as I find one that I love. Jealous? I am! How amazing would it be to have one of those from babyhood through adulthood? One day, she will start her own collection of stubs and will have the honor of attending the first concert of her choosing, but I’m hoping to cultivate a love for music early so that she never knows life without it.
I was nervous. I packed a huge bag of toys and snacks. I decided early on that we would just leave if she started to get bored or toddler-crazy. I bought ear plugs to protect her hearing. Would she wear them? (Yes! There was no objection to my sticking foam plugs in her ears.) My friends and I purchased orchestra seats, but planned to sit on the lawn so we could get up and wander around as needed. After a few days of showers, the lawn was wet and it was an unseasonably cool night for June, with temperatures in the 50s. We ditched the lawn plan and settled into our warm, dry seats with our fingers crossed.
The opening act was a trio of baby boys called Jukebox the Ghost. I wasn’t sure if she was going to be into it, so I pulled tiny Elsa and Aurora figures out of her overpacked Minnie Mouse backpack of tricks. She found the coloring book that I was trying to hide because we weren’t sprawled out on a blanket. There was a lot of stuff on our laps. But then the music began. Her eyes were fixed on the middle of the stage where the drummer was planted between the guitar player and the piano playing lead singer. After studying him for a moment she launched into her own air drumming set. She was into it.
Right before Ingrid began her set, more people piled into their seats. My girl could no longer see the stage from her own seat so she climbed on my lap. I was surprised that she sat there relatively still, but she was so happy to watch the show. Her little head rested below my own and I breathed in the smell of her lavender baby shampoo. The warmth and weight of my child enjoying live music on my lap was a thing of beauty. She was mesmerized with Ingrid’s performance. In between songs, my daughter’s sweet little voice could be heard singing the refrain from the last song.
Ingrid began to play her song “Everybody.” My girl knows this song because it is played at the end of the movie Ramona and Beezus, based on the book by Beverly Cleary. I was obsessed with the Ramona Quimby books as a child. The movie is adorable and I love that my kid loves this story that we will eventually share in book form. Ingrid started to sing the first few notes and I felt my daughter’s body take in a deep, sharp breath before she turned around and looked at me with the most exquisite smile and said, “Ramona song!” Magic.
We left when Ingrid started singing a softer song and my daughter remembered that she was two and started acting a little silly. It’s not standard practice for me to leave a show early, but I wanted to get my girl out before the crowd left en masse. Also, bedtime. I didn’t want to turn a late night into an all-nighter. She went to bed a couple of hours later than usual, but she woke up the next morning acting giddy, silly, and joyful. She also asked me to put on Ramona and Beezus. I happily obliged. This musical little Quimby loving sprite is definitely mine.
So tell me about your first concert. Who did you see? How old were you? Parents, tell me about your experiences with kids at concerts!