Your kid has spent weeks preparing for her special end-of-the-year play. She's spent hours memorizing songs and dance moves. Singing and speaking, being quiet, and watching, readying. And it's all been hush-hush. She wants it to be a surprise for you. Because you'll be there.
We'll all be there.
This isn't the 1980s anymore, and one of the striking differences in parenting style is that these days, you never don't show up. Gone are the days of empty soccer field stadiums that I remember, a few straggling parents there with a weak clap here and there. These days, you show up. Whether you do it because your parents did it for you or because they didn't, you are there.
And so is everyone else.
And...it kind of sucks.
So, I have some rules I thought up that might help next year's class.
1) Have the room open immediately.
This play was at 8 a.m. The place had to have been ready the day before. Don't shut the door. We all got there at 7:45 for the morning bell, and we want to go get a seat. What we don't want to do is stand in a line that wraps around the elementary school like a snake of good parenting. Let us in. That was silly and put everyone in a defensive mood.
2) Let parents know where their kid will be.
I have twins. One was in the front. One was on the side of the room. We picked a seat unknowingly where we could see neither of them. A lot of parents did this. So, during the play, there was a lot of people getting up and changing seats, and repositioning, and I'm sure it's not what the school had in mind. The kids had those spots from the beginning. Let the parents know the general area where their kid will be. That's who they're interested in. You don't need seating plans or anything, but just a general idea would be helpful.
3) Parents: don't save seats, for cripe's sake.
Now, I'm not talking about one partner saving a seat for the other partner. One seat saved is fine, necessary even, but I'm saying we came into the room, thinking seats were available and they were not. So we went to the front, where there was an empty bench. Only umbrellas, bags, keys, and shoes were splayed out over the whole thing. Not cool, guys, not cool. Now the mid-seats we could have taken were already taken. And the mid-seats we thought were open? Covered with travel mugs, sandals, and freaking walking sticks.
Stop it. Just stop. We all know you're about to get up and snap a photo of your kid anyway. Do you need to sit next to 80 of your closest parent friends who couldn't get there at 8? Very frustrating.
4) The phones, guys. Can we not with the phones?
Again, when it's your kid's time to play her two-second part? By all means, bodycheck everyone else out of the way, and snap your shot. But they have a video being recorded by the school, guys. And they sent an email saying, HEY, WE'LL HAVE A DVD AVAILABLE, SO DON'T RECORD THIS ON YOUR PHONE.
So, why did I have to try to see my kids through a maze of upheld electronic devices? I showed up at ass in the morning to see my kid sing, not to see her through your tiny newest iPhone lens.
And honestly? Are you going to watch and rewatch your shaky phone video of the kids singing "Florida Alphabet"? Isn't it better to actually enjoy it the first time? To make eye contact with the kid as she sings? I'm not even close to a phone shamer, but in this one particular case, I'm totally down with the 'put down your phone' thing.
5) Don't be the "wooooooooo" guy.
Once you woo for your kid, we all have to woo for our kids. I didn't go to a pep rally, dudes. I went to an itty-bitty kid concert. They don't know how to handle five minutes of parents out-wooing each other after each song. They just want to sing again, so...can we let them? Fist pump at home.
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