Posted by: Kate | June 17, 2008

Fifteen to Six

And another thing about the Dave Matthews Band show…

People need to get over themselves. Or, alternately, some people are too young to be that rigidly judgmental.

We weren’t the only family with small children at the venue, but we were certainly in the vast minority. Willem and I were well to the right on the bell curve of concertgoers’ ages, and Emily and Jacob were way over on the left. College sweatshirts and skimpy outfits abounded.

For the most part, people looked at us and smiled, nodded, somehow communicated approval. “All right, little dude!” and “Oh, a little Dave fan in the making!” were pronounced with regularity. I didn’t keep a careful count, but I would guess that about fifteen people made positive comments in our general direction.

But there were a handful of naysayers. At least six people pointed out, to us directly or to their friends, “Geez, get a sitter,” or “Got your kids out late enough?” There was some head-shaking, tongue-clicking, lips-pursed disapproval at the debauchery and immorality to which we were exposing to our children. There were also some guilty looks and vague resentment from the people who wanted to be able to light up their illegal substances without the presence of innocence and youth to remind them that they weren’t doing something honorable and worthy of applause.

There is validity to both of these points. We were taking a risk in showing our children how adults in large groups can behave; we could have kept them home or at least gotten assigned seats to minimize the randomness of it all. But we decided we’d rather be open and honest about a lot of things in life.  We could use it as a chance to discuss the darker sides of alcohol consumption and drug use, to demonstrate that the spectrum of substance use has a positive end as well as a negative one. We could choose to shelter our kids from this knowledge, at least until they’re older, but we opt not to.

We were also taking our kids into a traditionally adult setting, and therefore inflicting our children upon poor, unsuspecting adults who just wanted to be able to smoke pot and say “fuck” without consequence, real or imagined. There are those, both with and without children, who feel that kids should be kept to child-friendly, cute sorts of environments, with animated characters and G-rated language. I think those spots have a place in a child’s life, but as a parent I want to share the things I enjoy with my kids, not just immerse myself in the things they would choose on their own.

I also think it’s important to train your children in how to behave in large crowds, around unpredictable behaviors, before they’re expected to go into those situations alone, as adults or some facsimile thereof. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of kids watching how you behave in public, perhaps you might want to reevaluate your own behavior; I promise that I watch my kids closely and will step in the moment their behavior becomes rude, intrusive or potentially harmful.  Seems like standards we could all live with.

So if my kids saw you lighting something up last night, we acknowledged it. If you drank too much and ended up, kicked out and bawling, outside the venue, they stared, wide-eyed. If you got in a fight with your buddy and repeated, “What the fuck is your fucking problem?” twelve times at increasing volume, they waited and then were probably a little disappointed when your slightly-more-sober buddy decided to stalk off instead of standing there and responding to idiocy with violence. They asked me a lot of questions, and I answered them to the best of my ability. Not judgmentally, just matter-of-factly.

I appreciate the people who spoke up and shared their opinions, whether positive or negative. I enjoyed the positive reactions, and hope that I didn’t seem too pitying toward those who shared their disapproval. I just felt a little bad, that their parents weren’t bringing them to concerts at this age.



  1. Hi Kate,
    My parents took me to concerts, parties etc when I was growing up and I saw many things, positive and not. I loved it. I loved being with my parents, having interesting experiences. They always watched us and kept us safe and I’m grateful to them for making the choice they did.
    I think it made a difference to how I behaved later, when I started to go out on my own to similar events. I felt comfortable and I knew where the possible problems might be.

  2. Wow. I would not have expected such a rowdy crowd for a Dave Matthews concert.

  3. I wish I could be so easy going like you!

    I am not trying to raise a sheltered child, but when I go out, I don’t want to bring the kids with me, unless its a kids venue…. Of course, I don’t get out nearly enough!

  4. We don’t have anyone to watch our kids. We only trusted my parents, and they are both gone now. So, if we don’t take them, we don’t go.

  5. one of my most favorite memories while growing up was the concerts my parents took my sister and i to. they were old school country artists like charlie pride, johnny cash, charlie daniels band, conway twitty. not what you would call children’s concerts. but that was the music my parents listened to and we enjoyed the concerts and the going out with our parents.

  6. My parents were very active in the Jaycees when I was Em and Jacob’s age. I went and did 99% of the events (not all Jaycee events mind you) with them. I grew up knowing my limits because of what I saw at those events. My kids go with us to many things that other people have said they would not bring their kids too, but I think that my girls are pretty well rounded for it.

  7. I wonder if some of the negative reaction you received was a result of previous bad experiences in adult places with ill-behaved children. I will admit that when I see children in adult venues, my first reaction is annoyance, but that’s because I so seldom see well-behaved children in public. I expect them to be obnoxious brats even before they have a chance to prove me wrong. Judgmental, I know, but more often than not, someone’s ill-behaved children have ruined an experience for me.

    My parents never took us to typically adult events when we were kids, mostly because they attended those events to get away from us for an evening. I suspect that when (if) we have kids, it will be the same with us. Going out to concerts and such is an opportunity for some “alone” time. But, hey, if you like taking your kids out, more power to you. I’m sure you’re providing them with some wonderful memories.

  8. I had no choice. Single parent either stayed home and watched playschool or took the kids . . . they had their share of kiddy concerts and I my share of whatever. It’s a good learning curve and we’re better friends now that they’re all grown up, because of it. Now I go to concerts with my children! Doesn’t that get me some ‘looks!’ And since when has good music been the preserve of the 20-30 age group? I can twiddle a glowstick with the best of them!

  9. No one has the right to judge you especially when your children were well behaved and acted more adult that the adults. If I have an opinion in a situation like this I keep it to myself.

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