Having two children in their respective schools’ music programs means that I can expect to go to no less than six school performances a year. I have to say I look forward to watching my children when they have their turns but, with the exception of the kindergartners’ singing, because they are just too darn cute, I sort of put up with the long wait for a decent seat so that I can sit through almost 2 hours of waiting for the 10 minutes my child is on stage. It’s a draining and time consuming process at best but I remember the times my parents did the same for me as a choir girl and have a greater respect for their patience in those sometimes very uncomfortable bleachers or rock hard folding chairs. I also remember that the audience as a whole treated us, kids and just students, with respect as we showed off what we had spent months trying to perfect. We were just kids, and we weren’t always all that great, but no one ever did anything but watch, clap, and cheer at appropriate times. Occasionally a flash would go off but that was expected.
Now as I relax at home after watching my youngest sing her heart out in her fourth grade performance which we were lucky enough to view from the high school’s rather posh auditorium complete with theater quality cushioned seats and a balcony, I find myself utterly annoyed with the parents’ behavior inthe audience. I’m also flabbergasted about what some children, namely other girls on that same stage, were allowed to wear.
As I ended up in seats in the balcony, somewhere I rarely sit, I thought it interesting to remember the days I sang in that same school auditorium. I have a clear idea of what is seen and heard from the stage and just how slick some places are. Even when I was 18 I took care as I entered stage left because there where the hard wood met cement was a worn smooth area that was easy to slip on. I’m sure it hasn’t become less slick almost 20 years later.
As I remembered some of the kids entered from that same stage left. Ten years old would be the average age of the performer in the first group. And of those performers two thirds were girls. In the front row there were no less than 4 pairs of high heels. On 10 year olds. Now I realize this is a special occasion but this is the school’s show choir (think Glee with shorter actors) and there is quite a bit of movement. Jumping and turning was a frequent move that the kids all seemed to enjoy and all I could do was wait for someone to fall.
Granted, no one did have a tumble, but is it just me or is the fourth grade a little young for 3 inch heels? I think I may be just getting old because I also had an issue with some of the extremely grown up dresses some of the girls were wearing. I realize that styles change but I’ve always thought fashion gave one who looked some choices. Especially in the Girls Isle. It may take some looking, but I’m sure there were other choices than a low cut dress that would have been inappropriate for most 20 year olds.
What truly made me cringe through the entire array of performers was the awful actions of most of the parents that surrounded me. And even after the principal did his normal welcoming speech that reminded us to turn off our phones or at the very least set them to vibrate. (No problem, I never bring mine to any of the performances.) He also asked us to remember to treat the students with respect and refrain from calling out or distracting the kids because, “the really can’t see you anyway” which is absolutely true.
Let me just tell anyone who feels a need to yell out their child’s name when they are on a lit stage and the light are low in the audience, they can’t see you. All that can really be made out from a stage are tops of heads. And only if you really concentrate can you make out vague details. And while you are doing all of this looking you are in no way concentrating on the job you are supposed to be doing.
From a fellow audience member’s perspective can I just say I wish that the other parents who began screaming out their child’s name at the top of their lungs, thanks for making an idiot of yourself and ruining a perfectly cute performance by the second graders.
To the guy behind me who would not stop whistling, I forgot what a good ringing in my ears sounds like. Thanks for the memories.
For all of the other parents who go and sit in the bad seats, and stand against the far wall just to get a two minute look at their little one performing and still find a way to treat the others sitting with them and the kids showing off what they’ve been working on, often for months, with patience and respect, thanks.