Monday, December 20, 2010

Thicker skin

It has been a while since my last entry, and there is only good news to blame. I reached the 32-week milestone in my pregnancy two weeks ago (the time when most babies' lungs are fairly well developed and many can survive outside the womb without ventilatory support), and since then I have been able to modify my bed rest routine more and have actually gotten out of the house a few times.

And yet, I have the nagging feeling that something has been lost. It's almost as though I was in a protective bubble, one in which I have really never existed for any length of time in my adult life, and in which I was able to more introspective and reflective than I ordinarily am. At baseline, I would consider myself to be a bit less introspective than the average person, certainly less so than my Viennese husband and his family, but probably more so than the rest of my own family. I have always admired my husband for this quality, but only through bed rest have I been able to actually make myself more like him in this regard. How quickly I reverted to my old habits, though!

In any case, I have one bittersweet anecdote to share, one that is probably best categorized under "Growing Pains of Young Parenthood." I saw adds online for a Christmas concert at a local church by a wonderful adult a capella singing group, Musica Sacra, whom we have heard before and loved. The concert was listed on a number of local parenting websites and the adds described it as "family-friendly, children of all ages welcome." Since I could be dropped off at the door and would be sitting the whole time, I thought this would be a perfect low-risk pick-me-up from months of bed rest. So, we packed up the little one and off we went.

Perhaps the lack of other children younger than about ten in the audience should have been a warning when we took our seats in the audience. My son was happy as a clam, listening for a while to the first set of songs in rapt attention but then beginning to wander, mostly in silence but of course a bit noisy from time to time, as most toddlers are. My husband took him to the back of the church to listen so that he had the option of darting outside if the noise worsened. You probably know where this is going...

After the first song set, the director turned to the audience of about 100 and welcomed everyone warmly. She then said that she took her son to his first concert when he was three and a half. After a pause, during which I innocently thought that she was about to welcome the children in the audience, she said, "AND THAT WAS TOO EARLY." She proceeded to offer up the "green room," where we could listen to a broadcast of the concert and feel "more comfortable" than in the sanctuary. No matter that we later found out the green room didn't exist. I thought I would melt in my seat. I felt all 200 eyes on me, sitting alone in full view of the rest of the church while my husband and toddler were out in the narthex.

And so I did what any self-respecting, third trimester, hormonal mother would do: I gathered up our coats, headed for the exit and was in tears by the time I got there. It was of no particular consolation that the executive director of the choir (and the one responsible for the advertising) apologized profusely to my sobbing self on the way out; she clearly hadn't clued in the choir director that this was a kid-friendly event.

Aside from hormones and the desperation I was feeling to get out of the house and enjoy a nice evening of live music, I think the reason I took the incident so poorly is that I would never have brought our son to the concert in the first place, knowing that he would surely make some noise and disrupt others a little, if it hadn't been clearly advertised as an event for "all ages." Any good white Anglo-Saxon protestant knows that children should be seen and not heard, right?

Anyway, I'm not sure there is any great lesson to be learned from this, except to say that I should grow thicker skin. Or, as my husband commented that night, not plan to move to Vienna anytime soon if this kind of thing bothers me. I'm a little surprised that it took 18 months to get to this point, actually, and I'm sure it won't be the last time we get kicked out of a concert. At least I hope not :)

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