Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Jazz Math

At the end of Sunday's party circuit, we stopped at Joel's school where he was in the midst of his final jazz concert of the year.  What was originally supposed to be held outdoors was moved inside because of threatening weather, thus ensuring that the weather would not only be sunny, but that the body heat of a few hundred people would be condensed in the cramped Commons of the high school.

While I'm discussing Joel's school, I thought I'd do my part to further our education.  Yep, all of us.  And since my math skills are limited to courses like "Math in Decision Making", here's a word problem to help us grow.

A train leaves Boone, IA at 2:00pm with 45 passengers and heads due east.  At the same time, a motorhome, driven by a maniacal four-year old, travels north from St. Louis, MO.  Assuming that both are moving at the same speed, how in God's name do I get my kids to shut up and sit still during a jazz concert?

Two gold stars for anyone who knows the answer.

I should have known how the evening would transpire.  After all, the last time we went to one of Solon High School's evening activities, both Cael and Graham danced themselves into a sweaty, popcorn-crusted frenzy.  This time, however, there was no popcorn.  Only cookies.  And, of course, dancing.

I blame Joel.  I one-hundred-percent blame Joel.  I tried everything I could to keep them quiet during the performances, knowing that they were recording the songs for their annual CD.  I baited them with my iPhone, letting them take smeary photos of Daddy and hoping that Temple Run would be just as intriguing without the sound of the screaming zombie monkeys.  But all it took was Joel saying "Oh, let them dance, it's cute!" for the tiny thread of control I had to disappear like my patience at the end of the day.

Photobucket Photobucket

If they had simply bounced around in the back of the room, bopping their wild blonde hair, I probably could have spared the two or three weeks of my life I sacrificed to stress.  But they didn't-- those children belong to someone else.  My children grab their crotches when they dance and stick their rear ends in the air.  They scrunch their faces up and point at strangers like they are picking them out of a line-up, which, ironically, they will probably find themselves in when they repeat this stunt at 35 years old, stumbling into a random high school after a late-night bender.

Sure, there is a certain amount of behavior that gets forgiven simply because they are so cute and the audience loves to see young children behaving strangely.  But that's just it-- the audience is there to listen to the musicians play and sing, not to watch the director's children reenact a particularly funky episode of Soul Train.

I did what I could, of course.  I scolded them and made confection-related promises that I knew they would not behave well enough to receive.  I offered up episodes of Curious George and even suggested that the next day we could pull out some of the sequestered toys, the toys that are either too advanced for them or have so many small pieces that I have to be a helicopter parent, hovering over them as they play to make sure nothing is lodged in someone's nasal cavity or to prevent the dog from eating and subsequently pooping nylon butterflies or tiny army men.

It was a lesson in how not to parent.

As I ushered them out at the end of the night, apologizing to strangers and trying to be gracious as people complimented the boys on their "festive" dance moves or lovely golden locks, I realized that the stress is simply not worth it.  Every parent in that room had been embarrassed by their children at some point, whether they commented on strangers' genitalia, threw up all over them at the movie theater or even performed a dirty dance at a jazz concert.  Because at the end of the day, two children + one parent = chaos.

How's that for math in decision making?

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Leave your own "ism". Cael and Graham double-dog dare you.