I've done it again, folks. Qualified for the Mother of the Year Award. (I have yet to win this award, btw, but I do qualify quite often.) This go round, it was based on a selfless gift of time, an inordinate amount of hassle, some expense, and superhuman (or at least super-mom) understanding.
Yes, I am all that.
Several months ago, in a state of fatigue or stress, or merely an unguarded moment, I agreed that my teenage daughter could go to a concert. Not just any concert, but "Imagine Dragons." At an arena about 60 miles from our town. On a school night.
As per usual, my daughter borrowed my American Express card to order tickets online. In theory, she pays for these events herself with her own money (actually, between babysitting, and two different weekend jobs, she tends to have more cash on hand these days than either my husband or I do). In reality, I think I lose track of all that she owes me and a lot become gifts by default. Soon, she received plain, old, ordinary tickets; special "Memory Tickets;" and a tour tee shirt. (I began to wonder what kind of V.I.P. package I — er, I mean she — had sprung for.) And, before we knew it, the long-anticipated day was upon us.
I mentioned that the concert venue was some 60 miles from our house. I did not, however, explain that the route there ran through the city of Boston at rush hour. The GPS on my iPhone said that the trip would be 90 minutes.
Not exactly. Try two and a half hours.
Excited anticipation turned into mild concern into downright anxiety as the clock moved and we didn't. It wasn't merely the thought of missing the opening act. The stakes were much higher.
My daughter had reached out to a radio producer she'd met at a smaller House of Blues concert last fall. The woman had told her to stay in touch, and she had done so, politely but persistently. Lo and behold, the morning before the concert, my daughter had finally heard back from her. "Okay," read the email, "You and your plus-one be at the box office at 7:10, and whatshisname from the record label will take you back to meet Imagine Dragons."
Of course, all of this fortuitous gift from the gods stuff would be null and void if they missed that 7:10 appointment with whatshisname. And, while I can control neither nature nor weather nor traffic, it would be all my fault. It didn't help that mobile technology allowed us to constantly — and I do mean constantly — check our progress, miles left and estimated arrival time.
We finally pulled up in the "Drop-Off/Pick-Up" lane outside the arena at 7:00 p.m. The girls jumped out and I managed to yell "Meet me right here after the show!" A cop motioned for me to move along. Then, I was left to my own devices.
I figured I had four or four and a half hours to kill, and I had done my homework. There was a fairly close, fairly renowned regional theatre that was presenting Cirque Eloize, a French performance/circus arts troupe. I was able to score a half-price ticket for a single seat in the mezzanine. I figured that would kill two hours. The closest Starbucks was open until 10:00 pm. At that point, I could head back to the arena and live park somewhere. I'm not a napper by nature, but I thought I could listen to music or read a magazine.
The first part of my plan worked. I was ten minutes late for my 7:00 performance, but the show didn't really have a beginning-middle-end narrative, so aside from annoying the guy in the seat next to mine, my lateness was okay. Starbucks was clean and bright and friendly. When they kicked me out (cordially, of course), I drove back to the arena and parked outside the same "Drop-off/Pick-Up" sign, congratulating myself on my master plan mastery.
I was there maybe five minutes when a different cop rapped on the window and demanded that I move. "Now!" I did what any self-respecting middle-aged mother would do.
'Played the middle-aged mother card.
"I'm so sorry, officer," I purred. "My daughters are in there and I don't know this town. Is there somewhere else I can wait?"
He was suddenly all sweetness and light (it occurs to me, with horror, that I may have reminded him of his own mother). He suggested that I circle the arena and then pull up to a meter on one of the side streets behind it. "There's no overnight parking," he advised, "So just be sure you stay with the vehicle, ma'am." Yeah, right, like I'm going to leave my vehicle on some random back street of some random little city that I don't know from a hole in the wall.
His recommendation was apt except for two complications that were beyond his control. The first was a bona fide drug deal that I had the pleasure of witnessing. The other was the 55-minute (I am not exaggerating) dead-stop, grid-lock, traffic jam I was stranded in when the show ended. Thank goodness for cell phones. I was able to call my daughter, change rendezvous plans, and while we still didn't move for a very long time, the two girls were safely in the car with me. We weren't going anywhere, but at least we weren't going there together.
Since that evening, my daughter has been appreciative and responsible. She has very much lived up to her end of the bargain. It was a huge schlep (huge!), but I felt good about following through after making a — let's face it — downright idiotic agreement. I got to see a show. I got to see an illegal transaction. And, I learned something pretty remarkable about my daughter.
For someone who is often too shy to talk to anyone in the cafeteria, that girl can hold her own with radio producers and bona fide rockstars.
And, she has the photo, drumstick, signed CD and exhausted mother to prove it.
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