Tween and Teenagers
A Night Out With My Daughter…and Taylor Swift
I'm a bit of a music snob. I've been into music ever since I can remember. When I was eight, I used the money I'd saved from birthdays to buy my first album - “Born to Run”. I subscribe to XM radio so I can listen to music I truly enjoy and not just what's being pushed on a repetitive pop station rotation. I was a dancer at the MTV Music Awards and saw the Rolling Stones from 8 feet away. I went to a taping of VH-1 Storytellers and saw Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds perform in a tiny church. I refuse to go to huge arenas for anyone but Bruce. You get the idea.
So a few years ago when my brother told me he was taking his girls to a Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus concert, I winced. "Holy hat, how are you going to stand it?" He had already taken my nieces to a Jonas Brothers concert so he was not new to the tween chaperone scene. "It's not so bad," he shrugged. "In fact, it's actually really fun." Oh the lies we tell ourselves to get through the day. "You're a good dad," I said with a pitying expression.
Cut to a few years later and my daughter is really, REALLY into Taylor Swift. Before you label me as a Kanye West sympathizer, let me state for the record that I think Taylor Swift is a smart, talented powerhouse. I love that she started so young and stuck with her dream. And I love that her parents were so incredibly supportive of her musical aspirations they picked up and moved their family to Nashville. Lastly, I love that she inspires my little girl to think big.
However, I was not looking forward to going to a cavernous stadium with a bunch of screaming tweens. Because while Ms. Taylor has reached the ripe old age of 23, her fan base skews much younger.
But it was my daughter's birthday and I went online and found tickets because I knew it would make her really happy.
Then my father died. The week that followed was a blur of caring for the kids, making the funeral arrangements and crying. The week after that I was numb. Friends texted and called, asking to drop by or take me out for tea but I politely declined. I felt like I was being held together with Band-Aids and Scotch tape and would fall to pieces at the slightest breeze.
"I can't wait for tomorrow!" my daughter said as she dropped her book bag and took of her jacket.
"What's tomorrow?" I asked.
"What's tomorrow!" she replied in disbelief. "The Taylor Swift concert, Mom! Aren't you SO excited?"
My heart sank. Seriously? Now?
"I've already planned my outfit. Well, I have it narrowed down to two. Can you help me pick?" I followed her to her room feeling completely disconnected from my body. She showed me two outfits and I arbitrarily pointed to the winner.
The next evening as we drove to the arena I didn't have the energy to muster much in the way of conversation.
"How many times do you think she'll change her clothes? Do you think she'll have a band with her? What songs do you think she'll play?" Thankfully, these were not questions that demanded answers. In fact, they were delivered in such rapid fire as to not leave room for any response at all.
When we arrived, there were hundreds of girls and some young men streaming onto the escalators. Many of them were clad in red in honor of Ms. Swift's current album. And even the twenty-somethings were as giddy as my nine year-old. They smiled at my daughter and asked her if this was her first Taylor Swift concert. "Yes it is," she beamed. "You're gonna love it!" they said.
The big lights went down and in the darkness were hundreds of little lights. Lit up signs that said "Taylor" and "Red," "Enchanted" and "We Love TS." Girls were decked in blinking red tutus and twinkling t-shirts. Then the lights went up and there was Taylor. My daughter's eyes were fixed on her like a heat seeking missile. She smiled broadly and sang along to every song.
I spent the whole night watching her. With each song my little girl belted out, my sadness lifted until it was completely gone. And I realized that my brother wasn't lying when he said that those concerts were fun. It was beyond fun. It was transcendent. And I had the best seat in the house.