Last week I went to see my neice in her school Christmas concert. While I am a big fan of children belting out “Feliz Navidad” in very broken Spanish and singing songs about a traditional Jewish toy that none of them have ever seen or played with in real life, I just couldn’t fully enjoy the concert because I kept getting distracted by some incredibly annoying parent behavior. Can you relate to these common courtesy fails?
- The Great Wall of Christmas – This is the dad who stands up right in front of you to film his kid’s solo on “O Tannenbaum”. Unfortunately, his kid is also singing the rest of the songs too, so you’re forced to stare at the back of his over-sized red sweater for the entire night or slide over and one-cheek it on half of your wife’s chair.
- The Freaky Friday – These are the parents who forget what constitutes acceptable adult behavior and instead behave like their children in large public settings. Tonight’s concert was held at a local church, and I saw parents standing on the upholstered chairs (yes, with their shoes on). Other than children, who does that? I imagine that these parents would be annoyed if a guest were to stand on their living room sofa, but for some reason they feel free to stand on the chairs of a church where they are a guest. I don’t get it.
- The Tsunami – We all have to wave to our kids, it’s a given. We want to show our support, and let them know where we are in the crowd so that they can direct their singing toward our waiting video camera. But some parents start waving and just never stop. You waved to your kid, your kid waved back; the entire circle of this form of non-verbal communication is complete. Put. Your. Arms. Down.
- The Complimentary Shuttle – I understand that younger siblings tend to act up and occasionally need to be removed from the audience. This is actually a parenting WIN — unless you are one of those parents who gets some sick pleasure out of doing it over and over again. Complimentary Shuttle parents don’t seem to realize that the in-out-in-out-in-out of the same screaming toddler makes the rest of us parents want to jam broken Christmas light bulbs in our eyes. After your second time back, please stay out and watch the video when you get home.
- The Eleventh-Hour Surge – Like a responsible parent, you arrived to the concert about 20 minutes early because you knew that there would be a lot of people, and you wanted to make sure you got good seats where your whole family could sit together. Right as the curtain goes up on the first number, some fashionably-late parents appear at the end of your row asking your family to squish together so that they can sit there too. Now you are pressed uncomfortably close to you mother-in-law and the late-comers now have the luxury of an aisle seat.
- The Occupy Wall Street – This is the flip-side of the late-comers coin. These parents don’t just come early, they get there a half hour before the choir director arrives. Then they set up a miniature tent city on the front two rows, leaving small articles of clothing to claim the spots of everyone from Grandma to Great Aunt Betty Jo (who will undoubtedly arrive late). They are the 1% and they are saving seats for the other 99% of the family. And because they are in the very front row, chances are good that there will be at least one Complimentary Shuttle parent in this group.
- The Afterparty – Just because the concert is over doesn’t mean its okay to let your kid wreck the place. This includes ripping down stage decorations, using the stage microphones as nun-chucks, leaping off the highest risers, and pounding out “Chopsticks” on the piano. The stage is for the performance and should never double as an after-concert playground. Also, the teachers are officially off duty from having to discipline your kid, so that means that you will need to step up to the plate and keep your kid under control.