Last weekend, I took my 4-year-old daughter, Mae, to her first concert. In her eyes, it wasn't a concert, it was the concert: Taylor Swift. T. Swift, as we affectionately call her in our household, is my gal's favorite singer, no competition. She's watched all of Taylor's videos on YouTube countless times, has spent hours shaking her hips while she sings along to 1989 on her Hello Kitty karaoke machine. The lyrics are memorized. The looks are cataloged. In Mae's little life, this concert was very big.
I can't take credit (blame?) for planning this Disney-level experience or purchasing a pair of $70 tickets for my preschooler and me. A few days before the low-key show — just 55,000 of Tay-Tay's closest friends at Chicago's Soldier Field — a friend of mine, a mom to three girls of her own, called to say she had two extra tickets to the show. Would we be interested? The answer was clear. Bedtimes and forecasted 90-degree temperatures be darned. We would be shaking it off with Taylor.
I predicted much about our concert experience. Ninety percent of the audience consisted of underage girls and their moms; $40 t-shirts and $6 bags of cotton candy and popcorn would have to be purchased; there would be some kind of meltdown at some point in the evening; bathroom lines would be epic; and the flashing bracelets Taylor gifted her audience with would become one of my daughter's prized possessions (for at least a week or two). But, I also had some surprising revelations. Here are the highlights.
I learned that sometimes it's worth the risk of a disastrous evening. You might just get a great one. I had a couple of mom friends warn me that their own daughters' first concert experiences had ended in overly tired tears before the headlining act even hit the stage. I knew Taylor probably wouldn't start performing until after 9 p.m., way past Mae's bedtime, but I also know that my daughter loves a party even more than she loves Taylor Swift. And this was the biggest party of her life. I didn't predict that I would be bribing her to leave at 11:15 p.m., still a few songs away from the end of the show, but she made it back to the car in one piece, without me having to carry her. I call that a success.
I realized that nothing's sadder than a mom who's dressed just like her tween. If I had to make a dress code for the Taylor Swift concert, it would look something like this: rompers, crop tops, short shorts, Chuck Taylors, flower crowns, and nothing else. While I support all of these trends for girls and women of all ages (OK, maybe not flower crowns for 40-year-olds), I'd also implore moms to consider buying your versions at a store your daughter doesn't also frequent. I can't tell you how many times I saw a group of dressed-alike girls from the back or side and assumed they were all the same age, then I got a closer look and realized one or two of the women were about 30 years older than the others (i.e. they were the moms). While you might think my response would be "wow, those moms look great," in actuality, it made me a little depressed for them . . . and inspired me to clean out my closet before I make a similar fashion faux pas.
Finally, I realized how lucky I was to have parents who occasionally let me miss my bedtime for a big event. As I was driving my sleeping daughter home at 12:30 in the morning, I started flashing back to all the trips to Disney World, circuses, concerts, and sporting events that my parents took me to when I was a kid. They all had one thing in common: I slept the whole way home while my parents drove, then they carried me to my bed. While I admit to a moment of jealousy staring at my tuckered-out little girl in the backseat, I also felt really good that my turn had come to provide my own child with such a wonderful, memorable night, and we both had risen to the occasion. Taylor Swift might not be my favorite artist, but for Mae and for me, hers was undoubtedly the concert of the Summer.