A month ago Danielle and I attended an outdoor concert on a ski mountain that did not quite unfold the way we drew it up in the playbook.
We decided to bring our sweet 10-month-old Violet along so that my mom would not have to find a way to get both of our sleep-averse children to sleep. After all, one is more than enough to keep things interesting.
We left for the concert in plenty of time, or so we thought. But due to extensive accident congestion on the interstate, a potty stop that turned into a wild goose chase, a traffic backup at the venue, and atrocious parking management that painstakingly looped us around a large parking lot only to be redirected and unceremoniously deposited in a grassy, rock-strewn remote lot that was a 20-minute walk away from the stage, we arrived at the show a full 95 minutes later than planned. Out of sorts and out of breath, we walked up to the ticket taker while Jimmy Eat World, my favorite band for most of my 20s, played the final notes of “The Middle,” the song that briefly launched them into the mainstream in 2001. I turned to Danielle and said, “That’s okay — I can live without hearing that song again.”
It turned out to be their set closer.
To add further indignity to our evening, the portable toilets were appalling, visibly drunk people were everywhere, and we had to practically dodge plumes of marijuana smoke to keep our little girl drug-free. A handful of people looked at us admiringly for bringing our baby to the concert, and I even got a “Way to go, bro!” from one happily buzzed fellow. But as we steered Violet and her tender lungs away from any sign of smoky danger, Danielle and I were starting to have our doubts as to the logistical (or moral) viability of toting a sweet, delicate infant to a rock show.
And just to further cement our doubts, at one point an eager and inebriated fellow rushed up to me and slurringly asked, “Can I get a picture with your baby?” He genuinely thought I would hand my tiny daughter to him, a perfect(ly drunk) stranger. What kind of profound ignorance about parenting — or blood alcohol content — must a person have in order to ask that question? I can’t recall exactly what I said in rebuffing his request, but he responded “So is that a no?” There may have been a touch of contempt in my voice as I replied “Yeeeah no.”
We did finally find a nice spot in the grass, away from the teeming (and Jim Beam-ing) masses. Salvaging what was left of the night, we watched Third Eye Blind rock out while the sun sank behind the hills of northeastern PA. We left just before the encore, managing to exit the premises before any of the drunk concertgoers became drunk concert-go-home-rs in the proximity of our baby-laden minivan on the dark, one-lane road down the ski mountain.
But every cloud has its silver lining. Our night was a bit of a bust, but there was one oddly unexpected and long-lasting benefit we stumbled upon.
We had purchased a $10 pair of neon yellow headphones online for our sweet Violet, to protect her delicate little eardrums. She did wonderfully with them, not trying to yank them off, even though she had never worn anything on her ears before. The headphones accomplished their purpose that night, shielding Violet from the pummeling drums and careening electric guitars of “Graduate” and other late-‘90s rock gems.
But in the ensuing weeks, we came to learn that baby headphones are good for more than just concerts. Violet is a very sensitive sleeper, so just about any sound can wake her up once we pull into our driveway — our creaking hardwood floors, Greyson playing in the room next to her, even just the sound of the minivan door opening to get her out and take her car seat inside. So we started placing the headphones on her head before any van ride where we wanted her to sleep longer than just the duration of that ride.
Lucky for us, it worked like a charm! Since we purchased the headphones, the length of Violet’s average minivan-induced nap has increased by 50%. She has taken 2-hour, 2.5-hour, and even a handful of (gasp) 3-hour naps with the help of those neon yellow headphones.
And to think… it never would have happened if we hadn’t purchased tickets to a Jimmy Eat World concert where we didn’t get to see Jimmy Eat World play a single song.
As a wise philosopher once said:
“You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find… you get what you need.”