Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kids Sometimes Act Like Kids

There I was, minding my own business, surfing the web, and with one innocent click I was suddenly caught up in the most wonderful opportunity! There before me, on the screen, was a bright red, orange and yellow shape representing the country of Uganda, and in a bold font were the words: Children of Uganda 2014 Tour of Light.

I looked away, but within seconds I was drawn back in – CHILDREN! UGANDA! TOUR! And it was all going to be happening in STOCKTON! Sounded like fun to me and without a hint of hesitation I started clicking through to purchase tickets.

The event would be held at the University of the Pacific and was being offered for one night and at one time, Wednesday, 7pm. Even though Wednesday is a school night, even though 7pm is bath time for the kiddos, I still clicked 'PURCHASE' and bought myself three tickets to the event.

There was something about this show that just rang right with me. I wanted my kids to get wrapped up for an evening in the fibers of another culture. I wanted to them to hear the African language being sung, I wanted them to feel the beat of the African drums in their chest, I wanted them to see the youth of Africa celebrate their culture by dancing with bare feet and covered in beads and bells. 

By the time Wednesday rolled around I had my plan in place. I picked up the kids, fed them, packed some snacks, and talked excitedly about going to see the show! Sarah knew more of the details and was looking forward to going. Elijah had no clue and only cared that his mo’cycle made it into his backpack.

Everything was running smooth, I even felt confidant enough to bring my camera!

Sitting in the front row, seats that Sarah selected, I had Elijah next to me and Sarah next to him. I couldn’t help but smile at these beautiful kids that were being so delightful on this lovely evening. It wasn't too long after we were seated that the show began.

And let me say IT WAS SPECTACULAR! I got goosebumps listening to the sweet voices of the Ugandan children and the dancing was incredible. I kept smiling and winking at Sarah and gave Elijah little kisses on his head as he stared at the stage.  Everything was perfect...


You had to know there would be an ‘until’, right? I mean, my son is 3 for goodness sake! Things can change on a dime. And they did.

At one point near the end of the show the host invited the kids to come dance on stage. Of course Elijah wanted in on that, and quite frankly, I encourage it. So up he went, on stage, with about 15 other kids and adults. When the music started, he danced. And he smiled. And he lived out loud. And it was fun...


Until the dance was done and everyone exited the stage. My son did not want to 'exit the stage'. And he let EVERYONE know it.

I eventually got him down, but once in our seats he kept asking, crying whining, pleading "PLEASE, please can I go on stage? I want to dance. Please. Please. Please."

I tried to talk to him, whisper to him, appease him, but it didn't work - and he erupted.

A shoe came off, he fell to the floor like all his bones disappeared in an instant, he yelled at me... HE THREW A THREE YEAR OLD FIT.

I was mortified. And at the same time, I was ok with it. He is THREE! He’s still learning.
I realized there was no diffusing him, he had reached his breaking point. Instead of trying to calm him down and making a decent exit, I had to lift and carry him as he cried and hollered, "I want to dance!"

His calm sister behind us picking up whatever Elijah dropped.

A woman shh'ing me as I was leaving.

And here, here is where I get a little bugged by it all. 

You see, I left the concert hall mad. Mad at my son for misbehaving. Mad at myself for not being a better mom. Mad at the woman that shhh'd my son. Just mad. But, as we all know, mad is a surface emotion for something else... and in this case, I was embarrassed.

I walked/carried/drug everyone to the car, got packed in, and it wasn't until I had us home, unpacked, and the kids in bed that the mad feeling started to wear off and some rational thought started to kick in.

Eventually I was no longer mad at Elijah. After all, he is THREE! And while he can certainly be well-behaved (like he was he first hour of the show) he can also misbehave, it's NORMAL. And he is FINE and WONDERFUL, thank you very much.

I was eventually no longer mad at myself. I am fine, too. I will make mistakes because, guess what, I am winging it with the whole parenting thing. There is NOT A MANUAL FOR ANY OF US! There aren't specific rules for EVERY situation. And I am trying my best. And I am doing pretty darn good a lot of the time, thank you very much.

And to the woman that shhh'd my son. Maybe I am not mad at you anymore either. Maybe. Because it just might be that you weren't shhh'ing us with judgement. Instead, it's possible that you were trying to help me. Maybe you were coming from the "it takes a village" perspective and you thought I needed  little support to teach my son how to behave in a concert hall. Maybe. Because, woman that shhh'd my son, I am sure you understand that kids are kids and parents do their best and that judging would just be a crappy thing to do.  

The bottom line. 

The concert was awesome! I am grateful that the University of the Pacific brought this event to Stockton. I am glad I went. I am sure that it was the right thing to take my kids. And I had a wonderful time. How could I not (rhetorical)? Check out some highlight images below... and next time you see this tour come around - I double dog dare you to take YOUR kids! And if you do, I will be there, too. And you and your kids will be just fine, and me and my kids will be just fine... and we will all be JUST FINE, thank you very much.

See that little boy there in the blue mustache shirt, that's my son.  He is FABULOUS. That was 4 minutes before he showcased his ability to be three!

Also, you can earn more about the Children of Uganda right here!

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