I have learned after almost 43 years that I am quick to jump to irritation. I often default to (what in my mind is righteous) indignation. Therefore, I have waited a week to let these thoughts marinate prior to releasing my wrath. But I could not let them go. I have been more fueled than ever to put them on my computer as they have mulled in my mind and heart. Here is my forward:
This is not a moralistic rant. This is not coming through a lens of a parent that is raising sheltered kids. This is not even aimed from my place as teacher or church leader. This is a middle age mom and wife making a plea to her generation to think. Stop and think. What we say and do matters. Please, stop and think.
Our family loves live music. My oldest daughter and my husband will never find themselves at a daddy/daughter dance, but they don’t miss the opportunity to hear and experience the best of alternative music together. ALL THE TIME. This love for a good concert has been nurtured in my household. I’m a bit obsessed. I’ve seen everyone from Garth to JT to Bon Jovi. I have flown far and stayed up late to see many a good show. Last year, AJ added more than 50 bands to her 2016 checklist. We love a good concert. All this to say, we do not shelter the music of our kids, live or recorded.
I think that is important to say upfront because you need to know that my kids have learned the smell of pot from fellow Mumford and Sons celebrants. They have witnessed pat downs from festival entrance points. As a helpful tidbit, they even know that drug dogs can find your weed in your dreadlocks, too. We think these are life lessons. We are there with them. We don’t avoid or look away. We talk about choices and consequences. In the same way we do with topics on TV and in movies and with friends. We allow our kids to see grown up things. So when they hit the age that their musical tastes advance from Disney, we moved from Dora to Taylor Swift shows. Perhaps Adam Lambert at 9 was a little far, but she loved it! #glambert4life
Our oldest turned 16 this week. One of her all time favorite bands is The Killers. For those that need a little refresher, they are a band that has had huge hits like “Mr. Brightside” and “Smile Like you Mean It” that both were released the year that AJ turned 2. They are not a new band, but they have new music and it is still great. Really great, I might add. She saw them at ACL this year, and for her birthday, her dad bought 4 tickets to see their new tour. And it was a show. Such a good show. “Somebody Told Me” sounds just as good live as it did when Lucas sang it to me in the truck in 2004. The concert was amazing. But the fellow concert attendees….well…
While there were certainly some teens with excellent alt music taste that were excitedly attending the show, the vast majority of the fans were born in previous decades. My best guess places most of the fans firmly planted in Generation X. There were some Millennials, sure. Good taste in music is not bound by age. But for the remainder of this conversation, I cry out to my fellow 40-somethings.
Our kids are watching us. Other kids are watching us. Strangers are watching us. And how we act and play and live and love and celebrate matters. There have been very few times as a parent that I have wanted to deconstruct what my kid has seen more than I did that night. And, again, my kid is not naive. She has seen the things and read about the things. All of the things.
But this night in particular was something different. The venue was “nice”. The fellow concert goers looked much like her mom and dad on the outside. They had on Toms, and big earrings and mom bags. There were some that had obviously traded in the LuLaRoe leggings for the skinny jeans and spent some time getting fancy-ier. Thats what we do right? Its rare that we get a night to be grown ups and hear bands that remind us of the times when were young(er) and hip(er) and could stay up past 9pm. Ah, the days.
All of these are great things. I love those nights, too. I had one the next night with my hubby at a wedding. It was great. But here is where things went sideways. The ladies behind us were having a girl’s night. Before the show, the talk was PTA and kids and mom stuff. The group of guys that appeared mid-set were husbands and dads with starched dress shirts and loafers and lovely wedding bands. These groups did not know each other upon arrival, but after a few hours and a few tall boys, songs from their younger years provoked sloppy flirting. The number of impaired drivers was horrifying. The aisle mates that could not refrain from the 4th or 5th trip to the bar even when they clearly should have been cut off at the 2nd was heartbreaking. The really telling part of the night came when my BABY looked at me and said, “I feel safer at concerts with college kids than I do with this crowd.”
Drop. The. Mic.
Moms and dads and friends – we must do better. We must find ways to safely and responsibly enjoy the things that we enjoy without spreading fear and unease to others. We must value our marriages in a way that we understand that we don’t take (nor do we WANT) a “night off” from the covenant that we have formed. The way that we interact with others matters. The way that we talk to someone else’s spouse or put in harm’s way someone else’s mom matters. It matters to those around us, it matters to the health of our heart and it matters to the next generation that is learning from us what it means to be grown-ups.
My daughter still talks about the freshmen (one UT student and 2 Baylor girls) that she befriended at ACL. For hours they stood together and talked music and life and had fun. I was a Baylor student. I had plenty of fun. I know that most in this age group have tinkered with the very same temptations that those around us at The Killers were enjoying. The difference, however, was stark. They were not falling on anyone. They were not invading her experience with their lack of control. We must do better.
Can we commit that we will honor each other by remembering that our actions are not in a vacuum? What we do and say matters. Our world needs us. Our kids need us. Our spouses need us. My commitment in writing this post is two fold. First, we need to talk about this. I think the only way we shine light into darkness is to be willing to flip on the flashlight. Second, I know that for some of us, we don’t know how to start making steps toward changing these norms in our own lives. If that rings true for you, I am here. I am passionate about this topic because I have failed in this area so many times. But I have learned that there is life and joy and so much fun to be had when you live into the best version of yourself – at concerts and in every moment of everyday.