It’s recital, choir concert, talent show, school play, and music program season! So chances are, your little one is performing in some type of show during the next month or two. I’ve got an 11-year-old drama queen who has been in dozens of performances since her first ballet recital at age three (for Throwback Thursday, I’m sharing the pic). Looking back, I wish someone had showed me the ropes about how to be a stage mom without being one of those stage moms. But now I can do that for you:
* Relax. You may be concerned that she won’t remember all her dance steps or will be out of sync with her group or even will be too scared to perform, but here’s the truth: You have nothing to worry about. My daughter has never been in a show when single one of the kids failed to get on stage out of fear. Sure, there have been tears and nervousness backstage, but the volunteer moms and instructors are pros at coaxing a kid out there. And as for making mistakes during the performance, know that if young kids mess up a bit, it’s actually cute. Cuter even than if the number went off without a hitch. So rather than getting worked up about it not being perfect (yes, I know the grandparents will be there), let your child enjoy herself and soak in the applause. The youngest kids always get the most enthusiastic response from the audience.
* Ask someone else to videotape it. If you’re holding your iPhone the whole time, you’re not going to enjoy the performance as it’s happening, which, trust me, is not the same as watching it later on YouTube. Ask a mom who has a kid in a different number to video for you, and do the same for her.
* Keep makeup simple. You’ve surely heard that kids will be “washed out” under the bright lights, but let me tell you lots of blush, lipstick, and eyeshadow is overkill for a 4-year-old. A little shimmer goes a long way.
* Re-think flowers. My daughter has received plenty of petals, but the gifts she’s been most fond of (and still uses) have related to the shows she’s performed in: a Little Prince necklace, a figurine from Annie, a Glinda doll. For the money you’d spend on flowers, you could get your daughter something that will last her whole childhood.
* Respect the instructor/teacher/director. She’ll teach him how to deliver the line, rock the dance moves, hit the note. Telling your child to do something different because you think it’s better will only confuse him. If you truly have a concern, talk to the instructor directly.
* Show your appreciation. If your child’s performance was at school, chances are teachers put in a lot of extra hours that they weren’t compensated for. My daughter’s school play last year had at least 80 hours of practice—and that doesn’t count the weekends that the teachers gave up for the actual performances. Help organize a token of appreciation, like a giant card that the cast makes and signs.
Okay, fellow stage moms, here’s your cue: Add more tips in the comments!
Parenting Style: Positive Parenting
Sign up to get parenting tips and tricks sent right to you inbox!
Many families have bonded over a shared love of a band, like the Beatles, or have funny memories of belting out the latest Taylor Swift tune during a long road trip. And while the right jam can instantly lift your spirits or make you want to groove, the raunchy modern music scene or some of pop’s morally appalling lyrics (um, hello—Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” anyone?) can make sharing today’s hits with your kids difficult.
Yet, you may be surprised to hear that youngsters have been spotted attending their favorite pop star’s performances with their parents—like the 3-year-old who had front-row seats to Beyonce’s concert earlier this year. And despite the fact that Miley Cyrus recently claimed her “Bangerz” concert tour is educational for kids, we want to know: What age would you bring your child to pop concert?
Take our survey and share your comments below for a chance to be featured in an upcoming issue of Parents.
For the past 12 years, I’ve found it fascinating to be a father to daughters. My two girls have brought me on an eye-opening cultural journey that has covered Elmo and Dora, Disney princess dresses, American Girl dolls, pretend-school lessons, pet guinea pigs, and performances of Wicked both on Broadway and in our living room. Lately, their activity has focused on some songs from the soundtrack to Disney’s latest animated feature, Frozen – the album that stands behind only Bruce Springsteen’s new record among the best-selling LPs in the nation. The songs, which sound more Broadway-ready than the typical multiplex fare, are bolstered by the voice of Idina Menzel, the actress who originated the role of Elphaba in Wicked and Maureen in Rent.
In our home, the girls have been blasting the Frozen songs from our little Bose speakers and lip-synching their way through the whole show. In the car, even with no music on, they’ll practice certain lines together. They’ve seen the movie twice, and are clamoring for thirds. When our youngest turned nine three weeks ago, she asked for a cake in the shape of the film’s snowman character.
Now I’m no cheerleader of Disney’s traditional portrayal of young female characters. The funny thing about this movie, though, is that even though all of the typical princess set pieces are there – the castle, the gowns, the big eyelashes, the handsome love interest – this film is ultimately about none of those things. It’s about two sisters, and their overriding love for each other. It’s about how far you’ll go to protect and save the best friend you have in the world. In our house, that’s a story worth some attention.
As my girls sing along to the film’s song “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”we hear the story of a younger sister who is being pushed away by her older sister, and can’t understand the reason for it: “We used to be best buddies / And now we’re not / I wish you would tell me why.” The younger sister asks once more for some play time, but after being told to go away, she hangs her head and sings, “Okay, bye.” As I hear my girls singing this together, I recognize that we’re getting close to the time when this exact scenario will play out in our home. Katie is 12, and she’s spending more and more time in her room trying on makeup, watching YouTube videos and, yes, texting. At nine, Chelsea is more interested in playing with her older sister than in spending time alone in her room. More often than not, Katie still plays with Chelsea. But those moments of rejection are nearing, like the gathering of dusk before night falls.
When it comes to music, I find it incredibly annoying to hear the same song over and over. But as my girls sing the Frozen tunes together countless times – and, to be honest, they’ve got a third singer in their group in the form of my wife – I can’t help but feel some relief amid the repetition. Because it seems that Katie and Chelsea have found something that transcends age differences and hormonal swings. They share a love for music and performance, and that love may connect them when other things do not. My brother and I are three years apart, just like my girls are. As kids, we had our stretch of time when I needed my space from him. But we always had our sports, be it a Yankees game on the TV or a 1-on-1 basketball game in the backyard. Even when we shared few words, there was still plenty of communication in the form of a last-second jumper on the patio, or a Dave Winfield home run on the basement TV.
My brother turns 40 in two weeks; I just turned 43. We talk about a lot of things now, as adult siblings do. But we still have a soft spot for the sports stuff. Years from now, I can see Katie and Chelsea spending an afternoon together, perhaps at one of their apartments, or maybe out shopping. There comes a point when they turn on some music. For fun, they click on the Frozen album. They smile, and start singing. Together.
We only have each other / It’s just you and me / What are we gonna do? / Do you wanna build a snowman?