On the scale of anxiety-inducing parenting situations, school concerts rank toward the top. Not only are the concerts themselves a stressful mix of raw emotion, but the preparation alone is enough to make me consider home-schooling.
Because my sons absolutely loathe pants of any kind, getting them to wear khakis and a collared shirt is nothing short of a miracle, which means they are always the worst dressed kids at the concert. Finding seating means waiting in a line that looks like something you’d find outside an Apple store the night before a new iPhone is released. Once I’ve managed to elbow my way to a seat (in the back, of course) and survived the obligatory small talk with other parents, I’m literally sweating in my yoga pants, nervously wondering how soon it will be before I have to give my child The Look.
There are several rites of passage in a parent’s life, but few are as emotionally taxing as the school concert. Joy, fear, anxiety, and pride all collide to make the perfect storm of thoughts and emotions. Sometimes the thoughts and emotions all come tumbling in together so fast and mixed up that you can barely make sense of them, let alone separate them in coherent thoughts. So let me break it down for you. Here’s a rundown of the thoughts that go through a parent’s head during a school concert:
When will this thing freaking start?
After fighting through the throngs of parents all vying for a front row seat, we’ve been sitting on these uncomfortable metals chairs for 20 minutes. That’s 20 minutes of small talk, 20 minutes of smiling politely at the room mom in my son’s class, 20 minutes of trying to remember the assistant principal’s name, and 20 minutes of trying not to make eye contact with the PTA volunteer coordinator who is probably giving me the side-eye for my “lack of involvement” this year.
Is everyone here as nervous as I am?
Because I’m nervous as hell. After year upon year of my children acting a fool on stage, I’m not just nervous — I’m downright terrified.
Maybe this will be okay.
He’s actually singing and not acting a fool. Wonders never cease.
What is that on his shirt?
Is that grease? Dirt? What the hell is that? Oh, phew, it’s just a wrinkle shadow…because I forgot to fucking iron his shirt! What kind of mom forgets to iron her son’s shirt before the school concert?
What is he doing?
Is he picking his nose?! Phew, he’s only scratching it. But everyone will think he’s picking his nose! Agh!
Did I leave my flat iron on?
Shit. I’m pretty sure I left my flat iron on. And the stove. And the fridge door is probably wide open too. I wonder if I should text the neighbor to make sure our house isn’t on fire.
When is this thing going to be over?
I’ve got cookies to bake for tomorrow’s class party. And by “bake,” I mean “buy from the grocery store.” And those teacher gifts aren’t going to wrap themselves. Not to mention the fact there are about five episodes of Walking Dead that I need to catch up on so that I can figure out why everyone was so freaking sad a few weeks ago.
Hey, buddy, put down the freaking iPad!
Hey, you! Yeah, you, with the ginormous iPad recording every moment of your special snowflake’s off-key singing — put down the motherfucking iPad before I rip it out of your sweaty fingers.
When did these kids get so old?
I can’t believe he’s in the fourth grade already. When did he get so old? When did I get so old?
Too late. I’m crying. Maybe no one will notice. I hope my mascara isn’t running. Oh, what the hell, everyone else is crying too.
Maybe I should have had a drink before coming.
And why don’t they serve wine at these things? Now that would be a successful fundraiser!
School concerts are not for the faint of heart.