We took Anna to her first concert this weekend, we had thought that the open-air setting of the Santa Barbara Bowl would be a little more child-friendly, after all they allow you to bring in children under three for free.....
We couldn't have been more wrong.
The entire first half was John Williams conducting the Music Academy of the West. They played Shostakovich. Really, really quiet Shostakovich. You could hear a pin drop, and I'm not kidding when I say during a particularly delicate piece by the solo-violinist I actually saw a deer grazing in the scrub behind the stage. All you could hear was the plaintive song of the bow on the strings, and the toddler in my lap who kept saying 'OR-CHES-TRA!' very loudly and proudly in intervals of maybe ten seconds.
We were squashed in to the very middle of the audience and couldn't have left without causing major disruption so we were doing everything possible to quieten her down. She wasn't screaming, or behaving badly at all, she was just announcing things in a very clear toddler voice. Things that usually garner her much attention and praise, like ‘VIOLIN MUMMY’, or for example when I in desperation told her that we had to be very quiet, like a mouse she said 'A MOUSE, SQUEAK, SQUEAK!'. If we tried to put our hands over her mouth she would say ‘NO, NO MUMMY, NO HANDS’, or if we put our fingers to our lips she would do a very eager ‘SHHH’ sound.
She started asking for a dummy (a pacifier) repeatedly;
A DUMMY! A DUMMY! A DUMMY!
LK had been in charge of the Anna bag, and there was no dummy. I may have suggested more than once that in future it would be great if there was always a dummy in Anna's bag. To which LK replied 'say it one more time Wrigs and I'll pull one out my ass'. Things were getting tense.
It was a chuffing nightmare. How were we to know? What were the chances you could hear a the sound of a cricket’s heartbeat at an open-air venue? I bolted as soon as humanly possible (with Anna clapping enthusiastically) and spent the rest of the show hanging out with the other ostracized parents in the refreshment area below.
I asked Anna the next morning if she’d enjoyed her first orchestral experience and she nodded sagely and said ‘SHHHHH!’.