Reflections on Insanity

I understand why
Some animals eat their young.
But it’s too late now…
———————————————–
I took part in something extraordinary yesterday. A room full of masochists. I was one of them. Viewed from the outside we surely looked insane. From the inside, well, the view was about the same.

Where was I? A Cincinnati Pops Concert for Children – Barnyard Serenade.

What in the ***k was I thinking? What were the other parents thinking? What made us think that our kids even remotely wanted to attend the concert… I’ll tell you what: delusion. I can personally attest to thinking the following: Wow, my kids like music. They like kid-themed events. They know I like classical music… And Music Hall is a cool, old building. Plus, and this is important, they will “get something out of it” and likely someday become symphony loving patrons who disdain popular music, have 20 more IQ points than their friends, and will be able to describe why a tambourine is both a membranophone and an idiophone.  So, all those things add together to equal complete and total insanity on my part.

It started well enough. They did indeed think the building was cool. But it pretty much went to shit from there. I mistakenly thought the kids activities were in the wrong place, so we only got to look at a few instruments; no crafts or kids’ stuff like I promised. This caused my son to fall to the floor crying.  We made our way to our seats, which I thought were really good. My daughter, however, thought they were the worst in the house and began what had to be the longest sustained pout in her nearly 10 years. I tried to engage them — look there, the harp! The piano! Aren’t the kettle drums cool? Nuthin’.  Once the music started, my son asked me every 5 minutes or so “Is that the last thing?”  At one point, my daughter managed to start a good cry, silently weeping while Haydn’s Chicken Symphony was playing. She totally ignored me when I tried to point out how the violins sounded like chickens and the flutes like little chicks.

It was at this point, at a point of total desperation and shame at what a horrible parent I really was, I started to listen to what was happening around me. And I noticed that although in the audience participation parts there seemed to be interest from a lot of kids, between shouting out farm animals pretty much every kid there hated their parents for making them come.  I’m fairly sure that by the end, the young boy behind me was duck taped to his dad. The two kids in front of me engaged in a silent but wicked tickle fight before their mom nearly came of our her skin to get them to stop.  When the Old McMaestro bit happened toward the end, it really was only adults doing the sing along… the kids had all but departed the building.

The only shimmer of hope I kept alive at this point was that the concert was mercilessly short – less than an hour. And surely my children’s joy at the end’s arrival would bring them out of their uber-negative state. How very wrong I was. Once my son realized that we weren’t now going to try to find the kids area, he began to wail. And pump his fists and shake his little body.   I was actually proud of him — I am perfectly ok if he gets mad, he just has to behave appropriately (i.e. don’t hit anyone). His outburst was completely reflective of his state and involved only himself. Well, himself and 1500 other departing parents whose own children had morphed into grateful, well-behaved angels now chattering excitedly about what they had just witnessed.  I could see their IQ points ticking up as we walked to the parking lot. I could feel the other parents’ eyes on me, judging…

During the walk to the car I resolved to be more mature than my kids in my reaction. I really wanted to grab them by the shoulders, tell them how disappointed I was at the immaturity of their behavior and that their lack of gratitude was going to cost them dearly.  The problem was that in each version I dreamed up, I looked more and more like a deranged lunatic. There was no way to claw them back to happy, no way they would ever change their mind about the last hour of their lives.

So I put them in the car and stood outside of it for a good 10 minutes. Frank joined me. We talked about how to deal with this and decided we would pursue the “We are the grown ups here and should probably act like it” route. (I did agree to use this, at the right time, as a teaching moment with our nearly 10-year-old daughter… she is old enough to know how to behave or at least fake it…) Several meditative minutes later, we got into the car, informed them we were going to Costco (“this is not open to input,” Frank smartly added) and proceeded to try to drive faster than our moods could follow us.

I am happy to announce that my decent, well-behaved and generally fun children returned shortly after we plied them with hot dogs and pizza at Costco. Shopping was a joy. They were funny. They helped find things and load the cart. They acted like hyenas the exact right amount given then ages. Our family was reborn.

So what to do now… there are two more concerts in the series, and the tickets are already purchased. I have 80% decided we will go again… I will NOT be defeated by two who cannot yet master the can opener. But I sure as hell will figure out where the kids activities are taking place and get there in time to enjoy them. The rest is a total crap shoot…

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7 Comments

  1. You are a brave woman! I am the parent who would give away the remaining tickets and vow to never return. I hope your sanity holds out. 😉

    Reply
    • I am tempted not to go, but I figure one data point — where I blew the call because I couldn’t find the kids stuff — isn’t enough to deter me. Check in on the afternoon of Feb 2 to see how it goes…

      Reply
  2. You kill me. Seriously. I love your posts. Haydn’s Chicken Symphony? Is it a symphony about a chicken? Or is it sung by a chicken? Or does the chicken play the cello or something? I really am curious to know how the chicken fits in.
    I have to admit that symphonies bring out the ADD in me. They render me a twitching, seat-shifting, knuckle-cracking idiot. When I’m feeling particularly well-behaved, I nap. Thankfully, I have never been duct-taped to anyone. So, I have to sympathize with the kids. lol.
    I’m hoping you go back because I’d love to read about it.

    Reply
    • Thanks!! Apparently Haydn wrote a symphony where the violins sound like chickens and the flutes like chicks… I am not making this up… And believe it or not, if you listen really carefully, and you really want it to be true, they do indeed sound like chickens and chicks. That is, unless you are a pissy 9 year old intent on not having any fun. Not that I know anyone like that, mind you…

      And I am going back – I will not be deterred from forcing culture on my children…

      Reply
      • Yay! I can’t wait to read about round two! And I am going to see if I can find the chicken symphony online and give it a listen.

  3. For all the times you made me laugh until I pee’d, I have nominated you for the very inspiring blogger award. Here is the link: http://theembiggensproject.wordpress.com/2012/11/19/embiggening-and-inspiring-who-knew/

    Reply
  1. Reflections on Insanity, Opus 2 « FamilyHaikus

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