- Be there;
- Record it (subtly);
- Give hugs afterward;
- Wait until the next day to talk about it.
Sometimes it seems that your child/teenager is a bit distracted when a performance is coming up. You may think that he or she doesn’t care if you are there, especially if you get a “whatever” when you ask if you should go. But don’t be mistaken: he wants you there. This will never change. Your child practices long hours – whether he is a saxophone player, drummer, or singer – in a school jazz combo, marching band or choir – and he wants to share his accomplishment with you. If you don’t get many details from your seemingly unenthusiastic child about the performance – do your own research and get the information. And…be there.
Record it (subtly):
I recommend recording your child’s performances with whatever technology you have available. If you don’t have a smart phone or video camera, another parent or friend will probably be willing to record your child’s solo or share a video of the performance via YouTube – just ask. I am always glad to have a recording to share with family and to review with my child after the performance if he is interested. Just be sure you are making the recording subtly, from your seat, and not drawing attention to yourself. Embarrassing your child before his big performance is not your goal!
Give hugs afterward:
The performance is complete and the applause is finished. Your son or daughter is packing up instruments, chatting with friends, lingering on stage and seemingly unaware of your presence. The performance has been long, the auditorium is hot, and you are tempted to wait by the door or go get the car. Instead, you should do the opposite. Approach the stage; make eye contact; move in; and give a big, big hug! You really don’t need words at this point – the hug says it all. In a few years, when your son is in college and you make a special trip to see him play, he may be the one fighting the tide of the crowd to find you and plant you with a big, big hug. (It can happen!)
Wait until the next day to talk about it:
Your child needs to decompress after a performance. Just like an athlete after a big game, he is exhausted mentally and physically. He won’t feel like talking on the ride home even though you will be excited and full of ideas and suggestions for the next performance or practice. You should both keep the glow of the performance going strong by chilling out together on the ride home. Listen to his favorite music and just drive home. In the morning, after a good night’s sleep, you’ll have time to discuss the performance and, you can share the recording you made. He’ll share his disappointments or achievements then – “I’m so glad that worked, I didn’t hit that note during practice.” Don’t be surprised when he abruptly ends your “talk” and is ready to move on to something else, though. My son watched the recording of his most recent performance once, and when I played it again, he said, ”you’ll have plenty of time to watch that later.” And, that’s another reason why you’ve recorded it – you can relive that marvelous proud moment again and again and again.