There probably hasn’t been a decision regarding media that I haven’t second-guessed myself since having tweens and teens. Ack. But we’re cheap, the tickets were free, and we know that for all our good intentions, we are not very proactive when it comes to carving time out individually with our kids. We figured we could at least think about it, so we took the tickets.
I had almost talked myself out of going (“What message is this sending to her?”), when it dawned on me this could be a good opportunity for Allie and me to spend time together. As the week progressed, Dennis and I got excited about turning this into something really special.
Friday night, I told Allie I was taking her out somewhere, but I did not tell her where. Dennis wrote her a card telling her how proud we are of the good choices she is making and what beautiful character we are seeing in her, and he put the concert tickets inside. I gave her the card when we were well down the road. “NO WAY!” she screamed. “Are we really going to this??”
Then there was a pause. “But Mom, you don’t even like her music!”
Yes, in times past, I have reamed just about every song in her second album. But in my heart I already determined I was going to say nothing derogatory about the music or lyrics tonight. “We’re going to have a great time anyway, Allie,” I assured her. And I meant it.
The drive to the theater took almost an hour. Normally I don’t let Allie text message when she’s with me (or any other adult) but she was so anxious to tell her friends that her mom was taking her to this concert, I let it slide this time. By the time we got something to eat, found our seats and took pictures (and why do teens always look good in self-portraits and not moms, pray tell?), her phone was buzzing every few seconds and she had to turn it off! “This is so fun, Mom. We need to do this more often,” she said over and over.
As expected, the concert had quite a few of Kelly’s trademark “angsty” songs. Before she sang Never Again, she said, “This is the most bitter song I’ve ever written. I love it!” Allie and I just looked at each other. She had to know I was biting my tongue, but she didn't let on. But then in the middle of the concert Kelly sang a breathtakingly beautiful gospel hymn, the second half was not quite so edgy, and the concert ended with her could-be-sort-of-uplifting song Breakaway. At least the tune is upbeat, so it ended on a light note.
When we walked out of the theater arm in arm, Allie did not ask to buy an album or a t-shirt. Made me think that perhaps after a whole concert, she realized maybe this music isn’t what she would choose for herself, after all. Hmmm.
On the way home we stopped for Wendy’s frosties, and Allie just kept saying, “Thanks for being such a great Mom. This was SO fun.”
It WAS fun. I enjoyed being with my daughter – a teen who is becoming responsible to make some of her own choices. We have ongoing conversations about music all the time. I realize the power it has. But along with instruction, we’ve given her some freedoms in this area. Some of her music choices have not been all that great. Some have been pretty bad.
When we got home, however, I watched as Allie reenacted her laughing version of Kelly’s “this is the most bitter song” intro for the family, complete with a screeched couple of lines of Never Again. We’ve talked about that song before. It’s pretty much the polar opposite of a Christian’s view of life. But I’m quite certain that a hundred hours of my preaching could not have driven home that point as well as seeing it live and in person.
Anyway, there was no particular redeeming value in the evening, other than the fact that we were together. I find myself tending to rate all activities based on a scale of eternal significance. This was definitely not up there, not by a long shot. But even though it wasn’t my first choice of entertainment, it was another memory made. I think this is the hard lesson (for me) of having a teen: not all time needs to be teaching or instructing (although there is a place for it, and we are constantly reinforcing).
Allie needs me to “be” with her. Can we ever drive that "message" home enough?
We spent the past 13 years teaching. When I do it now, the eyes tend to glaze over and it translates into One Big Lecture. Now she is filtering her new experiences through the lens of what she has already been taught. Is it real? Is it phony? Does it hold up to scrutiny? What is principle and what is preference? Is it so legalistic that I’m going to disregard it all?
Instead of being frightening, I see this time as very exciting. I’m enjoying the questioning, but I want to make sure I’m the one she feels comfortable asking the questions of. Which means I have to cultivate my ability to bite my tongue. I got a good lesson in that the other night. It was worth every moment of pain.
Mostly I’m enjoying Allie's company, just for the sake of being together. No other reason is necessary. She is growing into a delightful young lady and I want to get to know her. I hope she wants to get to know me and all that I stand for. I don’t think we’ll always have to go to a concert to do that, but it was a start.