Joco Opinion

Loud concert with tweens has a certain ring to it

Do you remember your first time? I sure do. My nerves were all a tingle, the anticipation was thrilling; but if I was lucky, I’d convince my parents to buy me the commemorative T-shirt to celebrate the event.

Attending your first music concert in a big arena is a highlight and privilege of tweendom. Perhaps the only highlight. Parents, alike joyfully share with their children this deafening experience, filled with elation, ringing ears and raw vocal chords from screaming with thousands of girls.

Memories of attending my first concert with my father are unfortunately hazy. I was in what us oldies called junior high — just another name for dreaded middle school. Instead of snagging tickets to Led Zeppelin or the Dooby Brothers, this musical theater geek chose the jazz vocal stylings of The Manhattan Transfer. It was just as thrilling for me, and there was nothing to inhale from the first few rows in the audience. It was a win-win for my parents.

Over our spring break stay-cation, which was approximately 14,400 minutes of, uh, joy, I ended the vacation by treating my tween daughters to see the young pop star, Ariana Grande at the Sprint Center. Unfortunately, Miss Grande’s lighting designer hardly illuminated the not-so-grande singing waif, so we now have a first-rate collection of dark photos and videos of gray fog.

My girls had never been to a concert, outside of their school’s gym or church, so for them it was to be a hysteria fest! The thrill of the pastel colored lights, the dramatic bass pounding, and the wicked fire shooting out of the stage floor was shocking and scream-worthy. I thought this concert would be special for my girls, but I have to admit I loved watching my daughters’ faces light up when their idol teetered out on 6-inch heels.

Since I’m one of those annoying parents who enjoys finding the teachable moments in every situation, I didn’t disappoint them.

“Girls, see the size of the speakers and lights? That means it will get pretty loud in here. Aren’t you glad we found another pair of earplugs?”

“Wha…?” one daughter replied, while canned music filled the arena.

Yes, the original ear protection was at home sitting next to my bathroom sink. Luckily, right before the concert, I landed a pair of squishy, and unused, earplugs in downtown Kansas City. A hotel front desk worker typically provided them for guests, but my daughter insisted she needed them for a pop concert. Pop concerts are much worse than snoring!

After that big save, I decided to not divulge that my Plan B was to pay off one of the crane operators or construction workers on the streets.

Of course when we found our seats and the music started, I looked to see if the earplugs were going to work. She smiled back at me and kept holding the plugs in her hands, rolling them back and forth.

“Are you going to use those, honey?” I asked.

“Nah, but they’re kind of fun to squish!” she said with an innocent smirk.

After spending all that time finding the needle in the downtown haystack, she was going to use them as an art project/stress ball.

I returned to the impressive opening act.

“Hey, Mom! Can you believe how slutty they are dressed?”

I would have done a spit take if I’d been drinking. I guess I’ve done something right as a mom. My tweens may become hard of hearing, but at least one of them won’t be slutty and hard of hearing. Somehow those odds are comforting.

Hold all Stacey Hatton’s calls. Her ears continue to ring since the concert, so please reach her at