The other night we had the opportunity to go to my stepdaughter’s school music concert. It was for grades 1-4 and there were a lot of songs on the list. It was going to be a long night. The little gym was hot, my back was already sore from sitting on the bleachers at my son’s spring athletics recognition just prior and I was getting a little bit of a tension headache.
We picked up a program and I was trying to kill time reading through it. There was an insert that read,
“Thank you for joining us this evening. As the audience, you are an important part of tonight’s concert. The audience’s responsibility at formal concerts is to honor the efforts of the performers by providing a listening atmosphere in which their performance can be appreciated by all. To that end, we ask for your cooperation:
– Please turn cell phones off
– While the performance is in progress, remain seated and quiet (If it becomes necessary to leave the auditorium, please do so between musical selections.)
– If very young children become restless and disrupt others’ ability to listen, please take them from the auditorium until they are quiet.
– Please do not hum or clap along with the performers, unless specifically invited to do so.
– Show your appreciation for the performance by clapping after each selection. Whistling and cheering are not appropriate at a formal concert.”
Now, understand that our kids go to different schools. My son and stepson attend a great school district. It was listed in the Forbes top 25 list as one of the “best schools for your housing buck” and also made the list of 67 top education towns in America. We’re very lucky. My stepdaughter, on the other hand, has been stuck with her welfare family (notice I don’t even say mother, considering she lets her stay with her grandparents as much as possible so as to avoid actually having to be a parent) this whole time and is in a charter school in Cleveland. The charter schools are a step above Cleveland Public Schools, which is a plus. They are still a far cry from what we’re used to, though.
As I mentioned, just prior to the concert we were at my son’s athletic banquet. The coaches or speaker announced once “please save your applause until we have called everyone’s name”. There was a point in the ceremony where you could practically hear a pin drop because the parents were afraid to clap out of turn. So, knowing where I am now and how I’m feeling imagine what I was thinking when I read that little insert.
Really? Do we have to spell those things out? In that room it translated to, “shut the hell up and try not to act like a fucking animal”. The administration can’t really say that, now, can they?
The gym fills up. Everyone’s talking to everyone, wandering around and saying hello, letting their 6 children run a muck – you know, the usual. They get ready to start and the principle steps up to the microphone for her welcome. She makes it point to mention the insert, “since we’ve had problems in the past”. Not only do these poor people have to keep the kids in line, they have to try to discipline their stupid parents at the same time.
They first group of kids comes out, the music teacher makes his introduction and they sing. And the same kids are still running around and the same people are still talking.
The next introduction is supposed to come from the kids themselves. As the music teacher is trying to be heard over the din in the room, using a microphone already no less, he has to speak even louder to say, I know I can make you hear me because I have a loud voice but I doubt you’ll hear them if you don’t shut up (not in so many words, of course).More kids come on stage, more kids start running around and the same people continue to run their mouths.
This is the point where the guy in the BIG STRAW HAT comes in and sits two rows directly in front of us. Of course.
The music teacher has to stop again and explain that now it’s going to get difficult for the kids to actually hear their accompaniment because YOUR ALL MAKING TO MUCH DAMN NOISE.
The whole time the people around us never shut their mouths. The worst part is that they had to have talked right through their own kids’ performances because they did not stop the entire time. At least half of the people in this room could not have enough respect for their own kids to be quiet and actually watch, pay attention and appreciate what they were doing. It’s sickening.
When we were in court last year the guardian ad litem for the case tried to dismiss the difference in the two schools’ performance according to the Ohio scorecards. “It’s not the school’s fault,” he said. No it isn’t. It’s the people who were in this room and the lack of interest they have in their children. Don’t you think giving a kid the opportunity to get away from all that BS and distraction provides a better learning environment? Maybe she could actually graduate and NOT be pregnant by the time she’s 14.
To top it off, Nyah’s mother kept thanking us for coming afterwards. This, from the woman who hasn’t had her own daughter living with her for over 6 months now (and for years prior to that, minus a few months last year when Bryan was trying to initiate custody conversations). She claims she’s too tired after working, now from 7-3PM and previously from 4-8PM, to go and pick her up. We wanted to tell her, “no, thank you for actually showing up” or “well, you know, that’s what parents do.” Instead she’ll buy her daughter $22 sunglasses at CVS or promise her an iPod for her birthday (keep in mind, she’s only turning 9) and claim how much she loves her children.
Then her daughter will turn around and give me a handmade mother’s day card that says, “you’re the best mom in the whole world”. She’ll tell her grandfather, when asked about her “real” mom, “she’s not a very good mom.”
At least we’re doing something right.