Every year at Steph’s school they do a musical concert for Grandparent’s Day. Every year I go and am amazed at how well she pulls it off. In our pre-Eva years, when someone would inevitably ask if we had any kids, she reply that she had 375. With this concert, you get to see all 375 work together. I stress at the idea of trying to corral two kids.
Every year I go, and in the past there would be two things I’d worry about, always relating to the surrounding parents. First, that they’d find out that I had no child performing and wonder why I was there. Second, that they wouldn’t know who I was and start complaining about the music teacher.
Of course neither of those would happen, they were creations of an active mind.
This night, however, will be different. Instead of worries of awkwardness, I would anticipate the ohhs and ahhs of those adoring Eva.
We arrive early to get a good seat. Eva has redefined what a “good seat” is. Before, I’d try to sit near the center to see everything. Now I find the easiest out. Aisle seat, all the way at the end by the exit.
It’s bottle time, so I pull it out for her. Eva sits up and starts to eat. This lasts a few gulps before she realizes that there are people around. People sitting. People walking by. People having conversations. Tons of potential adorers. This is no time to eat, this is show time!
I place the bottle down and prepare. I run through my responses in my head. “Why yes, we are the luckiest parents in the world.” “I agree, she should be on magazine covers.” “No, she’s not signing any autographs tonight.”
Only…no one stops by. This is a whole new environment for Eva and I. A room full of parents. Two things become clear in this room. First, the room clumps into a number of cliques*. Second, and most telling is that while I think Eva is the best thing ever, there are 350 parents in the room that think the same of their child.
* Funny kid story. When I was young, I heard my grandma complain that the new church had too many cliques. I asked mom why they didn’t fix the furnace to fix the clicks.
The cliques are easy to see. There’s the cluster of business guys in the back who have their cells on their belts, look like they just got off work, and refuse to sit in the chairs. There’s the uber-involved parent groups. They are the ones setting up tables, the food, running the meeting, etc. There the documentary parents. They cluster towards the middle, have video cameras set up and fire off flashes during the show. Then there are the let’s get this over clique. They cluster in small groups and complain that they have to spend a Tuesday night at school, complain about the temperature in the gym, and seem otherwise annoyed that being involved in their child’s education is taking them away from CSI:NY (tonight’s the episode where someone dies and they just barely solve it before the hour is up).
We are in a room that doesn’t see the uniqueness of a baby, that are deeply involved in their own child, or deeply involved into themselves. That leaves little room for oohing our precious child. I grasp this concept rather quickly. Eva does not. Why do these folks continue to walk past me? Why am I not the center of their universe?
We’re in a room full of centers of the universe. It’s a miracle that the gym hasn’t imploded from all that gravity. Maybe the lesson here today is that while a butterfly’s flapping wings here causes a tsunami there, a tsunami of joy in our lives is just a mere butterfly flap in theirs’.
As the night progressed, Eva succumbed to sleep. It was past her bedtime, and the excitement of it had worn her down. She would wake up momentarily a few times. Not during the singing or the dancing, rather during the applause.
After the show a few parents came by to say hi to Eva. She did her best to stay awake, even occasionally flashing that million dollar smile. A car ride home, and she was out for the night with a lesson learned. She might not be the center of everyone’s attention, but is for the people that matter the most : Mommy and Daddy.