Thursday, May 22, 2008

Changing Focal Point

My younger daughter had a band concert at the high school tonight. Not the honors jazz band, this was the the full school, just sign up for the class, band. While not the worst school band I've ever heard (that would be the middle school band-they sounded like an oompah band in a traffic accident), clearly, the entire audience was there to cheer on their children rather than for any quality of music.

Sitting directly in front of me was a man with 2 small children, I would say the little boy was five or six and the little girl was maybe 3 years old. Before the band started playing they were very squirmy and noisy, but once the lights went down, the father gathered the little girl onto his lap, and put one arm around the little boy. Once or twice I heard a "shushing" or a "please sit still" from the father.

On the other side of the not very full auditorium, there was an other little girl, about four or five years of age. She was sitting at one end of the aisle, while her mother sat at the other end. Through out the first four songs of the concert (the band director is a very kind man, the concert was short, besides, he has a new puppy at home) this little girl was shouting at the top of her lungs. Her mother would (from 15 feet away) shush her, loudly. But didn't do anything else. At the final song, the mother went and picked up her daughter, causing the girl to shriek and cry. Did the mother take the child out? Of course not, if she did that, she would miss her older child playing in the concert, never mind the effect of the misbehaving child on the musicians or the rest of the audience.

Because when my children were young, I tried to be conscientious about proper behavior and not inflicting my children on other people, I was furious at this mother by the end of the concert. As in seeing red, I know my blood pressure is going up, furious.

When the lights came up, at the end of the concert, I said to the father sitting in front of me, "Thank you for having well behaved children." The intense pleasure on the mans face jolted me out of my furor. He said to his children, "did you just hear what the lady said? She said that you were well behaved. I am very proud that you were good enough that someone else noticed, thank you. Should we stop for ice cream on the way home?" Then, of course, there was intense pleasure on the faces of the two children.

I went home (having collected my rather larger child) in the glow of a good mood.

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