A few months ago I was at a music festival in Cincinnati, Ohio, and about to watch one of my favorite bands, The National, perform one of my favorite albums, Boxer, from front to back. I somehow talked my way into the VIP section, squeezing into a sweet spot just off stage left. I had hit the bathroom a few minutes earlier, followed up with a quick stop at the booze tent for some red wine. I was set, fully prepared for what was sure to be one of the prime shows of my life.
Then I looked to my right and saw a guy holding his daughter, who I’m guessing was about 3. It was an adorable sight — he was clearly thrilled to share this special moment with his kid, and the little tyke gurgled excitedly while playfully pulling at the headphones that her daddy had preemptively placed over her ears to protect her hearing. How thoughtful!
Aw, that’s so sweet, I thought to myself. It’s so heartwarming to see this, though I can’t help noting that an even better way to protect your child’s hearing is to leave her at home. Also, it’s almost 9 p.m. — why isn’t she in bed? Didn’t you notice those bros smoking weed over there? My god, how irresponsible are you for exposing an innocent child to this, you monster? P.S. I hate you. Love, Steve.
As a concertgoer, my biggest pet peeve is when some cool dad or mom brings a small child to a show. Because kids don’t belong there! A kid at a rock show makes me feel self-conscious about the things I like to do at rock shows — drink, swear, scream my head off, dance awkwardly. But as a parent, I really loathe this practice.
When it comes to practically anything else, I don’t judge other parents. If I see a parent lose their cool at a screaming kid at the grocery store, I feel an immediate surge of empathy. I can only imagine the steady stream of misbehavior precluding THAT, I’ll wonder. Because I’ve been there. Every parent has. But taking a kid (let’s say under the age of 8) to a concert is such an epically (and in my mind obviously) misguided decision that I simply can’t abide it.
That’s a mistake on my part, and I apologize. This is another situation in which I should feel empathy. So, instead of being judgmental, I’m going to try to be helpful, and offer what I believe is prudent advice.