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Christmas concert meltdown

December 23, 2008 - Betsy Bethel
So there Emma and I were at the B.E. Taylor Christmas concert last night, one of my most anticipated events of the holiday season.

Some years I get so excited for this joyous celebration that my nerves take over and I can't fully enjoy it because of a stress headache or upset stomach. I end up sabotaging the whole thing!

This year, however, I managed to keep myself in check, and I couldn't wait to see Emma's reaction to the sights and sounds of the concert. To pump her up, I told her about the drummers that play during "The Little Drummer Boy," a crowd favorite. Knowing Emma's affinity for drums, I was sure it would be a hit, no pun intended.

In the half-hour prior to the show, all Emma could talk about was "the drummer boy." We killed time by walking around WesBanco Arena and chatting about Christmas-y topics -- cookies, houseguests, church services -- with friends we encountered.

Then the house lights went down and colored spotlights began whirling around the arena. Taylor's distinct voice and the jazzy cry of a soprano sax played by Jamie Peck hit our ears, and then B.E., a.k.a. Bill, and his phenomenal band took the stage.

Through the first few classic Taylor-made carols, Emma had a ball -- she danced herself into a frenzy especially during one of my favorites, "We Three Kings."

I'm not sure when things started to go downhill, because it seemed to happen so fast. One minute we were on the mountaintop, singing and clapping and swaying, and the next, she had plunged to the floor kicking and screaming, "I DON'T WANT the drummers!" and I was pulling her out of the aisle by her boots.

It's all sort of a blur.

I know at one point -- it was when Rick Witkowski, master of the ukelele (hee hee) played a plucky rendition of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" -- she calmed down long enough to sing along with the crowd, a cheesy grin plastered from ear to ear.

That turned out to be the eye of the storm, however. The Wheeling Park High School drumline had not yet made their crash-bam-boom entrance, but Emma was no longer interested. There were about a half-dozen vacant seats between us and a woman whom I noticed earlier having as much fun as we were. Emma ran down the row of seats and plopped herself down a few feet from the woman. I went after her, and she balked.

That's when it happened.

The formerly happy concert-goer looked at me down her nose and said, "Do you miiiiinnnnd?????" She could have punched me in the face and it wouldn't have hurt as much.

Stunned, I said, "Oh! I'm sorry!" I gathered up Emma and we scurried back to our seats, where we lingered only long enough for me to grab our coats and my purse, and we were outta there.

I let her wander around the arena hallway for a few minutes until I could gather my wits. I felt like crying. How did I become such a bad mother?! How did my daughter become such a menace? How could I let her ruin someone's concert experience?

Out on the stage, I heard Taylor, Jeff Jimerson and Hermie Granati singing a capella, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman." That's the WPHS drumline's cue, and they were lined up and ready to march down the center aisles.

I said to myself, I'll be darned if Emma is (or I am) going to miss this! I scooped her up and we headed back toward our seats, although we ended up just standing in the back and watching from there. Emma loved the drums. We then headed to the car.

By that time, I realized, it was 9 o'clock and time to go anyway (although the concert went on for another hour and a half, and had many people in tears, I heard, during a slide show featuring snapshots of Taylor's life, accompanying his nostalgic song, "I Will Remember. Sorry to have missed that, and the Church in the Round Choir, and the WPHS Steel Drum Band, and ... well, you get the point.)

Emma was tired, and I was disappointed with her behavior and told her so. I still was wrestling with my feelings about the lady's remark. I knew Emma was behaving poorly, but I so wanted her to experience the show! I guess I gave her too much leeway.

On the other hand, upon reflection, I felt the woman down the row was a bit on the nasty side. Taylor puts on a family-friendly show, after all. It's not like it was the opera, or an academic lecture. I've been in church services where the parishioners were more tolerant than she was!

Unruly 2-year-old or no, I enjoyed what I heard of the concert. Taylor and his band are masters at putting smiles on people's faces and filling their hearts with Christmas joy.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


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