Do you hear what I hear?

Alison recently reminded me of at least one reason to be grateful for being the parent of a teenager – especially this time of year — No more school Christmas  concerts to attend!!


Yes, I love my child and I love that she has some talents and I’ve totally encouraged all her talents and interests over the years. And I rather enjoy watching her perform. I just was never crazy about being obligated to sit through all the other kids’ performances, too.

I know, I know, I’m a terrible person and I should be admiring all the hard work these kids put into these events.  And I should be rooting them on to greatness instead of gritting my teeth through their performances. And ya, some of them were kind of cute and a rare few were actually quite talented and fun to watch. But for the most part, they performed like someone was holding a gun to their heads.

Those school concerts were probably among longest hours of my life. The band performs —  and we listen to gaggles of tone-deaf tiny people doing horrible things to perfectly good musical instruments.  The choir performs — usually not too unbearable. But then each class had to do their own thing — screeching out half a dozen songs — a few solos or duets thrown in for our added enjoyment.

Then along with the 2 or 3 school performances, ever year, I’ve also sat through another 2 piano recitals every year.  And separate choir and band performances for the years the child was involved in those. If we go back a bit there were also quite a few dance recitals when she took some dance classes; not to mention all the many, many performances during summer day camp theatre, dance and art classes. I reckon I’ve sat through a good 100 performances at an average of 90 minutes each – you do the math (No really, please do the math. I’m afraid to.)

I’m not even counting the hours of sitting in freezing cold arenas every Saturday morning for 10 years watching the kid falling on ice.

She still skates and plays piano, but her shows and recitals have edged into the really enjoyable realm now. And I don’t have to sit through the practices anymore.

Life is good.

I’m sure glad those school concert years are behind me.


No more of that boring kiddy stuff.

No more school gyms,  still smelling a bit sweaty, now  festooned with twinkling lights, glittering garland and children’s artwork.

No more freshly scrubbed tykes in their Sunday best, pulling and tugging at their unfamiliar tights and ties.

No more gap-toothed smiles, nervous but beaming proudly as they belt out songs they’ve been practicing month after month;  faces lighting up as they finally manage to spot their families in the audience.

No more parents and grandparents clasping hands to bosoms, eyes glistening, hearts swelling; forgetting to take photos as they get caught up in the delight of it all.

No more little one rushing into my arms after the shows — eyes bright, full of joy…. face shining…. excitedly, expectantly, confidently awaiting my fulsome, unbridled, totally heartfelt praise….


35 responses to “Do you hear what I hear?

  1. Zoom – It actually didn’t start out that way. After reading Alison’s blog, I started writing about how happy I was that I didn’t have to go to these things anymore and then all that other stuff just magically evolved as I was writing. Surprised the hell out of me!

  2. I had a whole bitter novella writtten on my fear and loathing of Xmas concerts and children’s sports, but it was way too strong to keep either here or even on my blog. I think I need to go work through some issues.

  3. Man, XUP, you sure don’t miss those concerts much.
    I can kind of relate. While I totally love and admire the young man that Little Bro Dan has become, I sometimes really miss the little boy that he was.
    The little guy whose face lit up when I went to pick him up.
    The little guy I took Christmas shopping the first year we were matched and when we met his Mom and Aunt in the mall, he edged over to me and subtly slipped the bag with his Mom’s gift in it into my hands.
    The little guy I would have to fight with on a Sunday night, when it was time to go home from the cottage, only because he had school and/or I had work the next day.
    The little guy who, at the cottage, would snuggle up to me on the coach while I did the crossword puzzle in the newspaper, and try to help me. Or he would try it himself, and quickly ask questions like “Hey, Bob, what’s a three-letter word for domestic feline, first letter is C” (still a much-recalled memory between us).
    The little guy who, about three months into our match, asked me what would happen when he turned 16 and Big Brothers officially ended our match.
    The little guy who, when I told him 16 is only a number and there would be no way he’d get rid of me that easily, broke into a huge grin and said with obvious relief, “I was hoping you’d say something goofy like that.”
    Yeah, I sat through school concerts, baseball, soccer and hockey games and decided after a year that I couldn’t beat the system, so I got on the coaching staff for his hockey team and stayed there until I moved to Toronto six years later.
    And while on one hand I’m glad it’s all over, I would do it all again without a second thought.
    Can you imagine life without The Child? I can’t, when it comes to Dano.
    I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the grandkids.

  4. No more wondering whether one of the shepherds or one of the wise men is going to be the first to stick his finger up his nose! (Lovely post!)

  5. Violetsky – Ya. Sometimes you don’t even know you’d appreciated something until it’s over.

    Ellie – All part of the charm, no?

    Susan – When you’re in the middle of the never-ending round of these things it’s like going to the dentist once a week and having root canal. But when it’s all over the human brain is odd enough to allow you to only remember the good stuff. I would like to read that novella, though.

    Lesley – Thanks. Life sure is strange sometimes.

    Bob – Oh yes! The grandkids. I’d forgotten that I still have all that to look forward to. Oh boy!!

    Loth – There’s always one with his fingers up his nose (and it’s almost always a “him”) and I was always so glad it wasn’t my kid.

  6. You will always have the memory… I guess you don’t know what you have until it is gone, eh?

    Stringed orchestra concerts are pretty hard to bear. Up until this year, each concert included all the orchestras from 4th grade to 9th grade, and the 4th graders played the same songs every year. Cute as they were, it was hard to stand. Growing up in it, in later years I got the joy out of recalling that at one point I was one of those little kids scared and excited out of my wits to perform for the first times.

    Now that I am in high school… first chair in the LOWER orchestra mind you =/…neither my parents nor I have to sit through them. In fact, I started preferring that they did not attend when I was still a part of them, as they cannot even hear me alone in the performance, whereas I have finally built up the confidence to practice at home in the open, not concealed in my closet.

  7. Darling Daughter also long being past the age of Christmas concerts, I still attend them (oh lucky me) because I teach in an elementary school. I’m usually one of the backstage people, so I have the – um – joy of witnessing the rehearsals and then the final product. I do have to say that the kids really do enjoy them and they do learn life skills like planning and working towards a (semi-) polished product. But really, it is SO TEDIOUS watching other people’s children sing/ dance/ act/ generally behave badly. My own child, on the other hand, was an absolute angel and so talented!

  8. You’re waxing nostalgic here, but I don’t miss any of it. The one thing I would do again was her 4th grade talent show performance. I choreographed her dance to “Do You Love Me” and it was AWESOME. She brought down the house. “I can mash potato, I can mash potato, I can do the twist……”

  9. Guillermo – Happy Christmas to you, too and we’ll see you again soon!

    Aziza – Really, when you think about it — how one teacher can actually manage to teach an entire group to play something that sounds sort of like something in a few short months, it’s pretty miraculous.

    Pinklea – YES! Exactly. I guess that’s why they pay you teachers so well. (ha ha)

    Geewits – I’m sure all the other parents thought so, too!!

  10. yeah. i agree with bob’s comments. just did the ‘christmas’ concert on thursday at the school and it was boring as heck to be truthful with you but i am sure one day i will miss the fact that my kids even want me to be involved in their lives.

    as for watching other kids perform at concerts i kinda feel the same was about baptisms/cristenings these days. your child rarily gets a private time for their cristening – they tend to do it during mass, in front of the entire congregation or as a group with 10 other babies and parents.

    about the grandchildren. i would have to agree with bob again, not that i want any, anytime soon!, but that from what my dad tells me, the grandkids are the best.

    i honestly think that my dad likes the grandkids way more than he even liked the 6 of us kids.

  11. As usual, I kind of went off on a tangent, too.
    From what I gather from grandparents, the best part of grandkids is that you have fun with them, pump them up with chocolate and candy, and they go home.

  12. I went to Phinnaeus’s Christmas concert the other night, and much to my surprise I really enjoyed it. A lot. The grade seven band was a hoot. One little fellow even showed up in a tuxedo and huge snow boots. And the sheer delight with which they played “Good King Wenceslas” on their trombones and trumpets was … sheer delight.

    My father always used to say the best part of Christmas for him was going to the school Christmas pageant and hearing all the sweet little voices singing about the “round young virgin”.

    You know, sooner than you realize, your house will be empty … and quiet … and filled with only memories and echoes. These are the good old days. 🙂

  13. Raino – My dad didn’t live long enough to see any of his grandkids, but I’m sure he would have really enjoyed them — much more than he was able to enjoy all of us…leaching the life out of him and sucking up money faster than he could make it and all… And tangents are not only allowed here, but also encouraged.

    Bob – Ditto my above comment re: tangents. Yes, I can’t wait to be a granny. But I’m willing to wait. In fact, I absolutely insist on waiting at the very least another 10 years. Minimum.

    Jo – How old is Phinnaeus? I thought he was adultish?? Maybe he’s a teacher?? I’m confused. But I’m glad you enjoyed the concert. I look forward to the quiet actually. As long as she visits sometimes.

  14. I am so with you XUP. JRock, our middle grandson, is into concert. The first two years, I swear we went to eight “solo” concerts. Where you listened, from the worse singer up to the best for two interminable hours.

    The next year, they had a new band director and the Christmas concert was fantastic. All choreographed with stage set ups, etc. I was wishing I had brought my mom.

    This year, another new bad director and the kids have never ever sounded so good. But, we are talking groups here. Solos can still be agony or ecstasy.

    The saving grace is they have a theatre at the school. No more bleachers. YEAH!!!

  15. Lovely post, XUP. I’m the proud mum in the audience, sitting forward on the edge of my seat, mouthing the words to the play, or the words of the song, along with my daughter, but you’re right, it’s sometimes torture sitting through other children’s performances when other mothers are leaning forward in *their* chairs. Still, nothing in this world beats the feeling when the curtain opens and they are all standing there ready to sing, and your child scans the audience worriedly until her eyes fall on you and the sheer joy that comes on their faces when they see that you are there to see them is worth every minute of OPKs (Other Peoples’ Kids) and the interminable practicing of the recorder.

    Grandkids are going to rock.

  16. No more parents and grandparents clasping hands to bosoms, eyes glistening, hearts swelling; forgetting to take photos as they get caught up in the delight of it all.

    This is me. I am a complete sucker for these events. And not just for my kids, for all the kids performing. Yep, my eyes actually glisten and my heart definitely swells.

  17. Aww, it goes by so fast doesn’t it? I love reading your comment that you started out with one idea and the ending came out all on its own. It made for a very lovely post.

  18. i love how they look like they are absolutley going to burst with pride when the performance is over. awesome stuff. their whole days they are clamouring for attention, and there it is, undivided, for a whole three minutes. something that they have been working on so hard, but keeping a secret because it is a “surprise”. all captured on video. i wish some of my early performances had been caught on video 🙂

  19. Deb – yes, grandkids should wait for a while

    bob – kid’s 16 now…like I said, another 10 year minimum

    Savanleck – You think it’s all about the director? I guess that’s a point. There’s no need for these things to drag on for hours for one thing. And some of them weren’t bad.

    Alison – ya, we won’t have to listen to the rehearsals or make the costumes for the grandkids. We just have to show up on the day. And no one will blame us if we ‘fall asleep’ during OPKs!

    Jo – Oh..why did I think they were older?

    Jazz – I might have been — it IS the holidays

    Aziza – indeed

    dguzman – Oh boy!!

    UP – Aw – you’re a much better person than i am, then. Because much as i loved seeing the kid perform, the other kids could be a trial.

    Kimberly – Yes, very surprising. i was actually a bit teary by the end.

    Meanie – I know. It’s so cool that they have this thing so separate from you. And they’re so proud they managed to do something so amazing without your help! Happy Xmas to you tooo

    FYI – I’m away for a few days and had posts all ready that were supposed to post while i was away and they didn’t and now I can’t remember by login stuff (it does it automatically at home), so i can’t get in to fix it. I’ll keep trying…but if i can’t get in have a great holiday all.

  20. wife just called in a huff. Apparently she tried to go see our son in his very first concert (1st year cello + only cello = playing in concert.

    parents turned away. no parents in the school. you were invited. go away.

    our kids school = jail. (not really but our principal thinks it is, only school in the district that is this tough)

    Bet it was a nice concert.

  21. my wife led the charge on the office. she’s the orignal pitbull. no lie.

    the concert was for students, teachers, staff, kindergarteners and their parents (kindergarten went to split half-day sessions so each half session and their parents were there).

    Parents who’s kids were performing just showed up. office staff and principal refused their entry. the principal said, “parents weren’t invited”. no letter ever went home saying that people weren’t invited and would be turned away. principal got condescending with my wife. bad move. wife did some ass ripping then pulled the crowd out of the office and said that the battle was over but the war wasn’t. Told principal that they were going to swarm the next PTO meeting and change things.

    back to the concert. kids, okay. but staff?
    staff. ha ha. as soon as they could, the teachers, librarians, lunch staff, custodians, and anyone else LEFT. They could A) stay and watch the little snot nose bastards tear up some classical music or B) leave early for the Christmas Holidays. Aaaaa, B duh.

    lastly, the kindergarteners and their parents. No little guys were performing, so the kindergarten parents were not very interested in the show.

    they used to have a night time show. new principal did away with that. did away with Halloween dressup, she got rid of that. She changed the rules from unlimited parental visits to 3 visits per year. So for all the parents that want to be involved with the kids education, are being turned away.

    weird stuff.