Last week, I heard and agreed with the rally cry of the pro-life movement to keep pro-abortion Sen. Arlen Specter from chairing the Senate Judiciary Committee. I also heard and agreed with the answered cry to put warning labels on RU-486, the abortion pill implicated in the death of an 18-year-old California woman last fall. I even heard and have plenty to say about the new spray-on birth control product applied to the inner side of the forearm.
But you know what? I’m gonna take a pass on these subjects this week to tell you about something I recently experienced that is vastly different but just as important.
Last week, I went to a concert for the first time in many years. (Before that, I think the last concert I attended was actually Pink Floyd back in graduate school.) So this recent concert was, as you might imagine, much different. My husband bought the family tickets last month for my birthday (don’t ask).
The concert was actually to see my son’s favorite artists, affectionately know around the world as “The Wiggles.” The performers are a group of four guys brightly dressed in primary colors that sing and dance to the pure delight of toddler audiences everywhere. Support characters include a dog, a flower-eating dinosaur and a pirate who carries a feather instead of a sword.
Character distinctions aside, this was just like any adult concert. We packed into our seats like sardines with popcorn, drinks and concert paraphernalia in hand. And while drinks spilled in upper rows of seats seeped under our feet, we waited patiently for the show to begin.
The Wiggles delight.
It was then that I noticed in front of me a biker dude complete with goatee wearing a concert T-shirt from a recent Bruce Springsteen tour. A New Jersey native myself, Bruce has always been a favorite. His music always brings back memories of days spent at the Jersey shore and that one-of-a-kind boardwalk smell of salty ocean air, cotton candy and Italian sausage mixed with the lights of carnival rides and casinos.
I like Bruce so much I rather felt betrayed during the recent political campaign when he took to the streets and concert halls on behalf of the losing party. But what do you expect from such a blue state anyway – unions, you know.
Putting recent politics aside, I couldn’t resist a comment to my front-row comrade. So I leaned forward to wryly inform my “brother” he was either at the wrong place or wearing the wrong shirt. He turned and smiled a toothy grin at me the likes of which could rival Tiger Woods and lifted his baby girl into full view. Seated next to him was his wife who threw her head back in knowing laughter with the comment that this was nothing like the last concert they attended either.
She added to her comment a knowing look that every woman in attendance accompanied by their husband would recognize. You know the one that said, “He did this for me. He did this for us. He took off from work and, maybe like my husband, jumped on the opportunity to get us seats on the arena floor for optimal viewing. He did this so I wouldn’t have to drive or fight for parking or carry my child all the way from the remote parking lot. He did this so he could hold her on his shoulders to give a bird’s-eye view of the concert. He did this because he loves me, his daughter and what it means to be a father. And for this he will get special dispensation for watching football or working on his cars all weekend – and maybe next weekend, too.”
It was in that moment I turned a full circle to look at the throngs of parents that filled the stadium with one, two, three, four or more children at their feet and in their laps. It was three in the afternoon – a time intended to take advantage of well-rested children waking from their afternoon nap.
With that thought still lingering in my mind and my back to the stage, the music started to play. Instantly, cheers and applause erupted from the mouths of children overcome with the excitement of seeing these superstars in person. And just like any adult concert, once the music started, nearly half the audience left their seats for the aisles – my son included.
As I feared, I should have packed the emergency duct tape to strap him to my husband or at least put a large recognizable hat on his head so I could follow him into the crowd. With each song that played, the concert hall seemed more and more like a small group playtime with parents applauding their children and clapping on queue to songs like “Rock-A-Bye Your Bear” and “Hot Potato.” Then as quickly as it started, it was over. We poured out of the concert hall, back to our cars and on toward home to make dinner, followed by bath time, story time and bedtime.
So what is this all important message that trumped talking about so many other pressing worldly concerns? The answer is family. I was so blessed to be with mine and see the values I cherish shared by so many in my midst from every walk of life. That and the look of pure wonderment and joy on my son’s face made tickets to the Wiggles concert the best birthday present ever.
(Future participation not recommended for the hard-hearted, stone-faced or selfishly absorbed.)