Don’t Hurt Me: I’m Skipping My Child’s Holiday Concert This Year

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christmas concert schoolThis year, I’m missing my daughter’s holiday concert at her school. Wait! Before you judge, so is she. We somehow booked our travels a little earlier than her school let out. But I digress. I’m not sure if I’m sad or completely and utterly relieved that I’m missing this concert.

I remember one of my friends asking me a couple years ago how my daughter’s holiday concert went. “Brutal,” I answered. “It was brutal.” And, sorry, it was. I still think I can hear the sounds of screeching recorders in my ear and the off-key sounds of the violin.

Part of the problem with school concerts (at least at my daughter’s old school) is that they did their performances from the lower grade up. The first couple of years, I sat through, from Junior Kindergarten to seventh grade, trying not to look at my Blackberry. Of course, this was only AFTER my daughter performed. Maybe some parents get off watching children who are not their own screech their way through Christmas carols. I am not one of those mothers. I’m more like, “I’ve come to see my daughter perform. I’ve seen, now I want to go.”

And, no, I won’t take offense if you arrive late and miss my daughter performing. I totally get it. One of my friends says she always leaves school concerts early: “I choose a seat at the back, so I can get out of there right after I see my son and his class.” So if teachers, who I know work hard to put on these concerts, want to ensure all parents stay for the whole thing – and two hours is long enough – then they should space out the grades, mix it up a little, have the sixth-graders start, then have the third-graders perform, and then throw in the Junior Kindergartens, and then go back to fifth-graders. Surprise us! Because, honestly, after watching my daughter and knowing she’s done, I’m just reading the program, counting down the rest of the grades, wondering where the nearest McDonald’s is.

Second, unless it is YOUR child playing the recorder, it sounds like cats being murdered. Or unless your child goes to an arts school, one in which they had to audition to get into, very rarely is any child good at the recorder (or at any instrument they force you to play in school). Speaking of which, seriously, the recorder? Still? I get it’s a cheap instrument and sounds come out of it, but I do not know one adult who plays the recorder. So, yes, most of the time when I hear holiday concerts I’m thinking, That sounds like “Here comes Santa Claus” but for all I know it could be “It’s going to be a very white Christmas.”

The most entertaining children to me are the ones who just stand there with their class on stage and do absolutely nothing, while their parents in the audience try manically to mime at them and get them to sing and do the hand movements. I find those kids and parents pretty entertaining, along with the nose pickers, who make me laugh.

Now, before I sound too much like scrooge, I would say these things about any school performance. Especially when your child is young. And, yet, there I am, showing up early to get the best seats, with a video camera AND a digital camera, clapping as hard as if I’ve just seen Les Miserables.

I recently saw my daughter in a school play where she had a small role. As I watched, I was mortified. Yes, I clapped and cheered, but I was mortified. Children missed their lines, they missed their marks, the singing was mostly off-key, and they had practiced this play for two hours a day for weeks.

“How was it?” my friend asked when I got home. “Well, it was pretty much…a school play,” I sighed. I didn’t want to say that, I really didn’t, but I just couldn’t get up for lying and professing, “It was fantastic!” However, I did think about why I hate school performances so much and, well, maybe I haven’t been thinking clearly. Yes, the students often suck. Yes, I do wonder why they don’t get them to practice three songs and make them really good, as opposed to 18 songs that are painful at worst and mediocre at best. Yes, I wonder why they don’t shake it up a bit, throw on some pre-recorded songs performed by professionals, and let the kids learn a dance routine or something.

But then I realized that although these concerts are for the parents, they really aren’t. My daughter got such a kick out of being part of a performance. She loved the bond it brought with her classmates at rehearsals. And she loved being on stage. So now I’m not as against school concerts or plays as I once was. Yes, I may still think they are brutal, but I like them because my daughter likes being in them, which is good enough for me.

(Photo: iStockphoto)