It seemed like a good idea, at first. My husband and I were sober the day we purchased our 14 and 15 year old daughters tickets to see Pitbull and Enrique Iglesias. The girls were ecstatic when they heard on the radio these guys were coming to our town. Neither thought to ask for tickets for Christmas, which made the purchase that much more exciting. Our goal was to give the girls a gift they’d remember long after the scent of pine, scotch tape, and cider faded from air.
The girls were excited, initially. Not only were they going to their first concert, but they were going alone. That’s right, mom and dad were staying out of the picture. But I noticed as the two month countdown began to the big day, no one was counting but me. When I asked if any of their friends were going, the answer came with a perturbed eye roll, “no mom.” And I was surprised neither of them bothered to mention the concert to their grandparents. This is when I started to question the purchase. Was this a bad idea? Our city claims to be the “Live Music Capital of the World”, but maybe we were thrusting our girls into a world they weren’t ready to experience? And why wasn’t I sharing the idea I thought was brilliant with my friends and family? Was I embarrassed by my actions? And then I realized something I’m not proud to admit, I was. I was afraid of being judged, poorly. What kind of mom thinks it’s a good idea to throw her girls into an arena with 17,000 strangers and no parental supervision?The ugly word “doubt” ruled my brainwaves as I sat at the laptop and searched online for reviews of the previous performances. Any crowd induced deaths? No. Any muggings? No. Any fights? No. Instead of finding proof that my doubts were justified, I read things like, “it’s one giant party…everyone is out of their seat dancing… an amazing night worth the money....Enrique really bonds with the crowd and Pitbull is incredible.” Doubts diminished.
The night was clear and the drive downtown was quiet. I put a Pitbull CD in hoping it would bring life to the backseat, but the girls didn’t offer a word – only looked out their windows. As we made our exit off the interstate, traffic came to a halt. A beat up little Hyundai next to us had windows rolled down, and two young men wildly bobbing their heads to a beat in tune with ours. The tiny metal on wheels shook with excitement as their bodies jumped up and down. A few guys and a lady roamed the street selling t-shirts. I could feel energy surging, not from the backseat, but from my own. Knowing our girls were going to their first concert released memories that fluttered back with vivid clarity. I was their age when I was released in the wild to my first big venue concert. Unlike the girls, I didn’t go with my sister. I had a cool Aunt a decade older than me that invited me to tag along. My Aunt’s sprayed hair (it was the 80’s) was the only thing higher than my spirit! I recalled the thrill that came with my entry ticket. I understood why some guitars were called “electric”, my ears rang and carried the beat long after the concert ended, and I loved it. The experience also taught me if you’re going to a concert where the musicians are getting a workout performing on stage, they sweat…and it flies onto anyone within spitting distance (which isn’t always good!). Most importantly, I learned the exhilaration that stems from being in a room full of people who share your musical tastes. The energy and excitement are tangible, electric! That magical night opened up a new world, one where I was on the fringe of something beyond comprehension. No longer a girl, and not yet a woman. I was in a state of becoming.
And I let them go.The traffic wasn’t moving, and the girls only had 20 minutes before the concert started. My husband pointed out a sidewalk that appeared to go in the direction we were heading. It was a ½ mile walk to the stadium. We could get there in time, but I would have to get out of the car with reluctant girls, dodge traffic, cross multiple busy intersections and walk – fast.
As we reached the front of the arena, I wasn’t sure if my heart or the radio station playing Pitbull tunes overhead pounded harder. A helpful man looked at my girls’ tickets and pointed them in the direction closest to their seats. I watched as their body language shifted from doubt to eager anticipation. And I smiled when they went through the entrance without me, and didn’t look back.Two hours into the show I received a text along with a photograph, “This is awesome, OMG!”
I let them go.They survived. And memories were made, for everyone.