I recently attended a live children’s show with my 3 year old nephew. The show’s title was Getting Wild with the Wild Kratts based off the PBS cartoon/educational zoology hit Wild Kratts. Basically two brothers, surname Kratt, are zoologists who begin (and end) each episode in human form, turn into animated characters, and go on adventures using creature powers to teach children awesome animal facts such as the sex of an alligator is determined by the temperature that the egg is being incubated in. So if you are an adult watching this show start paying attention and learn something for pete’s sake. To understand Joey’s excitement and the excitement for any child in attendance, it would be like if I was going to a show where Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor were the stars on the stage, and then Riggins made an appearance. That’s right these kids were amped. Now I’ve worked in a preschool, I’ve frequented Sesame place and Disney World, and I am a nanny for small children so being in a setting where the population of screaming children outnumber the supervising adults is far from unfamiliar territory to me. And being in an environment such as this one lent itself perfectly for me to take some mental notes, sit back, and observe not those crazy children, but instead the adults surrounding me. As a result I discovered a few categories of the types of parents that attend a PBS live children’s show and here they are:
- Parents that dress their children like the characters. Honestly these parents are ok in my book (to some extent). If the character’s wardrobe is cheap and easy, then it flys. If you are spending more than twenty dollars to dress multiple children up in attire (remind you not on Halloween) I’m not sure I can relate to you because you must be a millionaire. I guess if the child insists then I understand, but at the same time I sort of don’t understand. And if you are one of these parents I hope we can still be friends because nowadays I associate with parents, and I think my introverted self is telling me I am open to more friends.
- Parents that dress as the characters themselves. This unfortunately is something that does actually occur, because I have witnessed it with my own eyes. My feelings toward this type of parent is initially what’s really going on with this person, and then I think can you really fault someone for getting into the spirit on a day spent with their child. Probably not. But you can definitely fault them for getting in the aisle and elbowing a child out of the way in attempt to garner a high-five from one of the brothers a.k.a the stars of the show. So yes if you are wearing a character/real person’s attire to a children’s show the need for a second once over is necessary because clearly you are capable and willing to do things that may compromise the safety of children. And yes you most certainly know who you are if you fit into this category.
- Parents that buy several gifts for their child at the money scheming gift table set up like a CYO concession stand at the front of the theater. This line was massive when we first arrived and luckily Joey is only 3 so he wasn’t fully aware of what was luring the droves. Not that I have something against buying a little memento, I have something against waiting in a line of that size for a children’s t-shirt for $25, then additional costs if you want to add your name onto it. But cynicism is never the answer. That’s why we booked it just when the Kratt brothers were taking their bows and the crowd was still going wild, wild, wild for them, and we thus became the first to purchase a little something that Joey could enjoy. And let me reiterate one thing not several, and I did it because I wanted to not because he asked. What an angel he is (jk…..or maybe I’m not joking, who knows).
- Parents that reason with their children on why they didn’t purchase anything from aforementioned gift table by explaining to them the shotty workmanship that was used in constructing the gift. Now at a PBS live show there has to be one, two, or hundreds in the audience that knit, sew, can make crafts, etc. I mean that is kind of PBS’s demographics, no? And the woman behind me must be one of those people as she told her children that the Velcro would fall off the vest for sale in minutes and don’t even mention the size of the vest because come on you two kiddies would outgrow it in days. I get it. Parents gotta do what they gotta do.
- Parents who jump at the opportunity to ask questions when they move to the interactive portion of the show. Microphones were being passed around for children to ask their idols essentially any question to find out a fact that they were dying to know about animals. You know like what’s your middle name was on par for the types of questions that were being asked. Then a woman, obviously a mom or perhaps just a superfan, a few rows in front of us grabs the mike and asks, “Will they be doing an episode on lemurs?” First off no question is a dumb question needs to be revoked in this scenario, because while it may not be a dumb question you are a dumb adult for hogging the spotlight that was supposed to be for the children. Just think of the children the next time your pressing inquiries about the appearance of lemurs on an animated children’s show so desperately need to be answered.
- Parents who fall asleep. You win, that is it. I’ve seen it happen multiple times, always the father, and always impressed by their ability to tune everything out and catch up on some zzzz’s. Then again my Dad can fall asleep while you are talking to him, so maybe I’m not that impressed.
- Parents that get tapped on the shoulder by the 79 yr. old event staff worker to can it with the illegal videotaping of the show. I like that shows like this employ older event people because not only do you get a sense of safety, you also get a sense of excitement at the thought of a team of elderly workers having to escort a parent out of the theater for refusing to put down the video camera. Nowadays with the internet you can pretty much access anything and watch a clip of whatever your heart desires on Youtube. There really is no need for a parent to set up his tripod and film a show that their child probably won’t even like next year, and can probably also find in seconds on the web, and then watch on a continuous loop until they need eyeball replacements. But who am I to judge. I recall as a child watching on repeat a theatrical version of Peter Pan, you know the one were Peter was played by a girl. And furthermore, my father has VHS copies of every single ride at Disney World (legally taken and illegally taken) even the riveting, fast paced Carousal of Progress. So maybe there are parents out there who just like to have everything on film. What should we do, sue them? Um, actually yes there is a good chance that my Dad can retroactively be sued for his antics. But lawyers just know he didn’t make any copies and he didn’t sell any tapes. He just belittled a customer service worker at Epcot into giving his family including his four “very upset” daughters free passes because of a park closing too early for his liking, and that is it.
Of course there were all sorts of parents in attendance. You know like the young couples from the city with the fit mom in knee-high boots and the dad just wearing some wool cardigan sweater over a plaid shirt without a jacket. Or the woman who questions the use of technology and how the show could have been better like she’s some sort of movie critic as we were exiting. From the types of parents I listed I think there is someone we all know who would fit into each of these categories and do all these things that I observed. And he is none other than:
I’m not a parent so I really have no business categorizing and discussing a subset of humanity that I don’t even belong to. These are merely my observations. And for the record the type of parent I was that day was the one who goes to the dollar store beforehand to have treats in my pocket to keep the Joey boy in check, and then the one who participates in a little post show jog on the sidewalk to the car with my little Joey who eventually takes a tumble, and then loudly accuses me of hurting him, followed up by him refusing to walk with me again for all the jovial families around us to hear. We recovered quickly though because I told him I had M&M’s in the car. So next time you are at a children’s show look around and find that parent who is sleeping and thinks that the guise of darkness makes him invisible when in reality it doesn’t, it just may make him a genius.