Tearfree has spent much of the past two weeks attending these events and she has some tips to help parents make it through the end-of-school season.
1) Wear 100% cotton. School auditoriums are not well ventilated and if the daytime temperature goes over 25 (Americans, we’re talking centigrade here, which is 80 Fahrenheit), you will really feel it on your vinyl seat.
2) Find out when your child’s performance starts. Tearfree once made a serious mistake and attended a gala performance of 16 choirs that lasted five hours when she was only interested in choir #15. Many schools hold the grade one, two and three concerts together, making it a three-hour-long performance instead of a one-hour event. Make sure the music teacher at your school isn’t up to this trick. If your child’s in grade one and the grade ones go first, do not feel guilty about skipping out. You owe it to yourself and the other parents to set an example.
3) If you can’t bring yourself to follow step 2, at least bring your Blackberry or your palm pilot to help you through the three-hour performance. Failing that, count the number of boys and girls, blondes and brunettes, tell kids vs. short kids, etc.
4) If the event takes place after noon, consider having a Mojito or two before you show up. It can make all the difference and get you singing along.
5) Draw a line. Tell the synchro swimming coach that while you loved the Disco Fever Gala, the highlight of which was the I Will Survive number, neither you nor your performing child will be attending the special Hawaiian show that she just happened to add to the calendar during the “final” week of rehersals. You will almost always discover that the majority of other parents had the same reaction as you did. And even your kids will thank you for it when they learn no one else will be showing up.
Good luck, everyone!!
At the watercooler: Feel free to complain about the onerous demands made on today's parents. It will encourage other overburdened moms and dads to come out of the closet and you will have a circle of sympathizers within minutes. Numbers will decrease rapidly, however, if you start boasting about how your kid has the starring role, a solo or whatever. In general you should apply the same rules to talking about your offspring's accomplishments as to discussing your own. Modesty, and we're not talking false modesty, is the most appropriate conduct.
Call to action: If you have decided that you will no longer allow the school music teacher to treat you like the captive audience at a Castro speech, your best route is direct to the principal, who's sat through more kiddie concerts than Ethel Kennedy in her prime. Explain calmly and politely that it's not reasonable to expect parents, especially of multi-kid blended families, to attend several three-hour concerts in the course of a week. Enlist the help of other parents and you will almost certainly see results by this year's Christmas concerts.
Unfortunately this technique is unlikely to work with sports coaches or ballet teachers who usually don't have to report to authority figures like a principal. Ballet teachers, it must be said, rank high on the scale of difficult people you will encounter during your child's extracurricular activities. Almost all of them have major unresolved issues about not having made it to the Bolshoi and their interest in hearing constructive criticism is about the same as that of a Soviet era appartchik.
It's one of life's great mysteries why scout masters are always in hot water for some kind of transgression while ballet teachers get away with promoting anorexia, foot binding and a whole lot of other neurotic stuff with absolutely zero consequences. Best just to avoid ballet as an activity if possible. Thankfully most five-year-olds are smarter than their parents on this front and want out after one session with Miss Ludmilla or Madame Olga. Listen to them for they know best.