How soon is too soon for your kids to go to a concert?

9 years ago

Despite my very best efforts, my daughter Alex is a huge Hannah Montana fan.  Scratch that: she's a huge whoever-is-the-latest-musical-act-Disney-is-pushing, fan.  She loves her some Hannah Montana, but she also shrieks whenever she sees anything emblazoned with the faces of the Jonas Brothers.  The first few notes of anything sung by the Cheetah Girls makes her weak in the knees ... before, you know, she starts trying to teach me how to do "hip hop moves."  (An aside: her "hip hop moves" look far more like Riverdance than anything else, but I'm not about to correct her.)  She hears about all these artists at school, you see, and then when she comes home, she tells me about them, and asks me to turn on "Disney" so she can show them to me.   And while the music isn't necessarily my cup of tea, certainly these acts seem wholesome enough that I make the assumption that they're better than the alternative (Pussy Cat Dolls, anyone?).

One day, as she was singing (sort of) at the top of her lungs to the Cheetah Girls CD she got for Christmas, she stopped suddenly.  "Mom?" she asked. "When can I go to a Hannah Montana concert?"

I looked at her a bit surprised.  "You want to go to a concert?" I asked.

She nodded eagerly.

"Welllll," I said, stalling for time, "I went to my first concert when I was about 11.  So I guess you can go when you're around that age."

"I can go see Hanna Montana when I'm 11?" she asked, her eyes round.

"Or her equivalent,"  I clarified.  I mean, Hannah's all wholesome now, but then remember, so was Britney, at Hannah's age.

"Oh, man," she said, clearly disappointed.  "That's a long way away."

I started thinking about it -- maybe it is a long way away.  I mean, the last type of mom that I want to be is one who is living in the past, making her child wait to do things that all of her friends' parents think are completely appropriate for that age.  So I decided to do a little research by polling some of the moms on the internet, to see what their experiences were.  What I learned was (a) my thinking wasn't that far off from anyone else's, and (b) based on the answers to the questions I asked, you could almost guess the blogger's age to within a year or two.  I will, however, spare them all the embarrassment of guessing.

To start off, I'll give you my experience.  As I mentioned, I was 11 when I went to my first concert, which was the Jackson 5 (please do NOT guess my age).  I went with a friend of mine, her mom, and a few other friends.  It was an amazing concert, and for the record, the mom screamed louder than any of us at the gig.

Susan Wagner, of Friday Playdate, said her first concert was at the tender age of 15, to see Night Ranger (g'head, Sister Christian!).  When I asked her how old her kids would have to be before she would let them attend their first concert, she said, "I would take them now, if they want to.  It's the letting them go ALONE that scares the hell out of me."  For the record, her kids are 6 and 8.  My daughter is 4.  So, you know, I figure I at least still have a few more years.

Jenijen, of Not Calm (dot com), was even younger when she went to her first concert: she was 13, and saw Spandau Ballet.  When I asked her how old her kids would have to be before she would allow them to attend their first concerts, she responded, "I took Willow to see Lila Downs when she was a baby.  The boys are 10 and 12 and went to see Panic at the Disco with their dad.  They haven't been with friends yet.  I know this much is true."

Okay, maybe she didn't say that last part.

Jodi, of The Journey, was 13 when she went to her first concert, The Stray Cats (fantastic!).  When I asked how old her little ones had to be before they would be allowed to go to a concert, she responded, "I would say at least 13, and if I could hold out longer, I will -- what was my mother thinking?!"

Right on.  

Katie Laird from Happy Katie, went to her first concert, Jars of Clay, at the relatively young age of 12.  When I asked her how old her almost-3-year-old Ella had to be before she would let her go to a concert, she immediately responded, "surprisingly - she hasn't been to one yet!!  But she'll be 3 -- we're taking her to Austin City Limits this year!"

Oh.  Well, then.  Maybe I am being a bit too harsh.

Still, there are other bloggers who feel older is better:  Mir, of Woulda Coulda Shoulda (who incidentally, was 18 at her first concert, Billy Joel was playing) says that she wouldn't let her kids go to a concert until they were at least in high school (see?  This is why she's always a woman to me.)  And Melissa Summers, of Suburban Bliss (she was 19, went to Rage Against the Machine -- rock ON!), says she'd let her kids, 8 and 10, go to a concert now with a parent -- but would only be able to go alone at about age 16.  So I'm feeling a bit vindicated.

Or I was feeling a bit vindicated.

Because a couple of days ago?  I received an e-mail from a former coworker.  "Hey, I have some extra tickets to the Jonas Brothers.  They're playing on Sunday afternoon, March 8.  Would you like them, so you can take Alex?"

March 8 is 3 days after Alex's 5th birthday.

Dammit.  I was really hoping that I could hold out a bit longer. 

At least, say, until she was old enough to go see someone really cool.


Karen Walrond is a writer and photographer living in Houston, Texas.   You can read and see her work at Chookooloonks, and she will likely describe her misery at the Jonas Brothers concert on her blog.

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