IMG_7429 IMG_7432 I said I wouldn’t do again, but I did.

Thursday afternoon, my husband, 12-year-old daughter, one of her friends and I loaded up the car and drove to New Orleans to see a concert at the Superdome. Years ago, an adventure with a pre-twerking Miley Cyrus at the Cajundome had forced me to proclaim, “No more concerts.” Then there was Taylor Swift. And again, I said, “Never again.”

I kept my word until last week. Going to a One Direction concert at the Superdome is not for the faint of heart, and I wasn’t sure I had it in me. My husband, on the other hand, is a man of mercy and was always planning on taking the girls. I’ll confess that I toyed with the notion of selling my ticket. Finally, one of my friends shamed me when she said sending my husband on his own to the Superdome with a crowd of 50,000 mostly screaming pre-teens was grounds for divorce, in her book. Plus, I realized that this could be the last time one of my girls wants to take a trip like this with parents in tow.

A band called Five Seconds of Summer opened for One Direction. Our seats were one section down from the nosebleed, and I knew from the start that this event was not going to be a stroke of acoustical genius. If you didn’t know the words by heart (and fortunately, most everyone there did), you had no shot at understanding what anyone was singing or saying. For the record, the sound of tens of thousand girls screaming does something horrible to one’s auditory system. Fortunately, I brought earplugs, in a lovely shade of purple.

Once the openers finished, we sat for a solid 90 minutes waiting for One Direction. They played dance music like “Put a ring on it” and “Summer Loving” from Grease during the waiting period. Our daughter and her friend danced the whole time. Conversing with anyone was impossible. So I played a word game. My husband and I wrote each other an occasional note.

Finally, the moment arrived, and the five-boy band hit the stage and runway. You’ll be pleased to know that, according to Zane, Harry and Liam, we were their loudest crowd ever. After the concert, my daughter mentioned this thrice with great pride. When it occurred to her that they might say this to every crowd, she didn’t wilt at all, convinced in the honest ways of the boys with long hair. For one of the early songs, the stadium went dark, and thousands of points of light lit up the space like the Milky Way over the ocean. My husband leaned over and yelled, “Back in the day, we did this with lighters. Now, they do it with cell phones. I’m uncertain which habit is worse.”

Other than that, the only spoken sentence that I understood for certain happened during a fluke of sound waves clarity. One of the band members yelled, “This place is absolutely epic.”

In case you’re not in the know about One Direction, they’re mostly from England, with an Irish dude thrown in for good measure. They’re all beautiful boys, and they sing well too. Their lyrics are largely uplifting: “Don’t forget where you belong.” “Don’t let up.” “Live while we’re young.”

When they started playing the song that goes, “You don’t know you’re beautiful — and that’s what makes you beautiful,” the 20-something beside me, whom I didn’t know and hadn’t spoken to (because speaking was impossible), handed me her phone and motioned for me to video the performance. She wanted to dance. So I did. I even cut from the stage to her and her friend dancing – hoping they could see that, in fact, they are rather beautiful.

Truth be told, had it not been for the terrible sound quality, the screaming and the grown woman in front of me who was sporting a sequined bow the size of a young t-rex, going to see One Direction was an enjoyable evening. Even still, I’m thinking One Direction, live and in person, was a once in a lifetime deal.

Translating wisdom gained too late

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More than 30 years ago, a group of church ladies invited my best friend to speak about her experience as a summer missionary abroad to their women’s prayer group. The ladies lived about 30 miles from where my friend and I were in school. She invited me to join her that evening — and I did.
For some reason, the lady who introduced my friend to the group began talking about soap. For reasons lost to time, this woman was on a personal mission to educate others, starting with her prayer group, to the dreadfulness and terrors soap causes the human body. Instead, she was a fan of a particular soap-less cleanser. I had never heard such and was fascinated.
This soap-hater also happened to be a new mother. At one point in her tirade against soap, she mentioned her infant baby boy, and said, “And soap will never touch my son’s body.” (For the record, I believe she was also a new distributor of a cleanser that contained no soap.)
My friend and I were college-aged girls, the youngest in the room. No one else seemed to think this woman was off her rocker in the least, but my friend and I didn’t dare make eye contact. We knew we would lose it if we did. Throughout our drive back that night, we said repeatedly in as dramatic tones as possible, “Soap will never touch my son’s body.”
We still say it to this day, in fact, — and have wondered through the years just how many times soap has touched her son’s body.
I share that story because I have a confession. While it wasn’t about soap, I became that kind of woman for a few years about my first child’s education.
I will own it. I was a crazy person. Much like the soap-abhorring lady who introduced my friend years ago, I thought every decision I made about my child mattered so much. I guess no one can tell women like that, “Hey, cool it. Your son will use soap one day — and he will be OK.” Or “Hey, cool it. Your daughter will not be prepared for her SATs by the time she’s 11 — and she will be OK.”
A young parent I know and love recently agonized over the decision of where to send his three-year-old son to school. He mentioned one option that met the family’s every need, but the school used the same curriculum for both three and four-year-olds. He was concerned about how bored his son would be when he was four.
I heard my years-ago self in his words and voice. I knew I would have had the same concerns. I would have moved heaven and earth for my child to be in what I perceived as the best educational option. I also knew I probably wouldn’t have listened to someone who tried to tell me otherwise.
Intellectually, surely I knew back then that children being in loving, supportive educational environments is just as, if not more, important that the educational latest bells and whistles. Additionally, surely I knew that what happens at home, including reading, play and conversation, makes an even bigger difference than what happens a couple of mornings a week at pre-school.
Even though I knew it, I was chasing something back then, thinking I had to get every aspect just right. In retrospect, I wish I would have chilled out more — and I wish I could share my now realization to lessen the stress of other parents going through similar situations now.
On the other hand, perchance the gift of past-tense awareness is about something bigger. Maybe it’s not about realizing something too late or sharing wisdom with anyone else.
Perhaps it’s an opportunity to use the wisdom gained too late for one situation just in time for another.