I forgot to post about the concert that i took Erin to two weeks ago. Oh my gosh, what a day!! First let me say that even though i do not like some of the music that Erin listens to, I do appreciate her love of music of all kinds. Her MP3 player is filled with all kinds of music in all genres, from dance to rock to Christian. Many times i feel like i should be more disapproving of some of the music she listens to. I tell her that i don't want to hear it, but i don't keep her from listening to it. When i was her age, my parents kept me from listening to the music i loved and kept me from putting up posters of the singers and music groups that i loved and i still listen to those music groups(sorry mom). Now i know that Erin is not me, but her love of music is very similar to mine and it is something i definately relate to.
So, one of the things that i have done for Erin is buy concert tickets for her and attend those concerts with her in order to share in her love of music with her. A year and a half ago, i took her and her friend to a concert that a few of her favorite rock bands were giving together. We had floor admision and were back about 7 rows. It was loud, but not too bad. Unfortunately, her friend got panicky and we had to leave before the main band, Erin's favorite, got to sing more than one song. Erin dealt with her disapointment so well that i promised her that the next time that band came to our area, we would go. Well, we found out they were coming to an outdoor festival in PA in the beginning of May, so we bought tickets and decided that just her and i would go. So, Friday May first, I let Erin stay home from school and we drove to PA.
Now, the tickets said that the whole concert was general admission, standing room only, so we decided that, even though the festival did not open its doors until 5:30, we would get there around 1:30 so that we could get front-row spots. I figured it would be a fun experience and i would be making a memory with my daughter. That i did. We got there around 1 and i couldn't figure out where to park. I was so nervous because i hate city driving. Well, we finally saw a loooooong line of people, so we figure that was where we needed to be. After paying TWENTY dollars to park, we followed the line to the end and parked our keisters in line. There actually were not too many people in front of us. Maybe 70. That isn't too bad and we were confident that we would get a good position in the front of the stage. We met some nice people and the people behind us were a father and his 13 year old daughter. I had been a bit nervous that the front rows would get crazy during the concert--ever heard of moshing?-- but once i saw this BIG father with his 13 year old daughter, and many other young teen-aged girls ( although,with NO parental figures present), my nervousness subsided. I felt it was safe enough to leave the line a couple times to go to the bathroom or buy food and once to get our umbrellas when it started POORING!!!! It was an experience waiting in that line for over 4 hours, half the time it was raining. Erin had a great attitude and we were making friends and talking and laughing with those around us. One bad thing was my legs and back were killing me. But, all in all, it was a fun experience that I would not mind repeating.
Then it was time to go in.
It did not take long for my fear to creep in. People were cutting in line like crazy and we wound up with like 150-200 people in front of us. Once we got through the first set of gates, we all got packed together in a smaller space to wait for the second gate to open, and everybody wanted to be in front. We were packed like sardines waiting for the second gate to open. Erin, me, the father and daughter, and two other girls all linked our arms together so we would not get separated. But, i told Erin that if we did get pulled apart to just keep walking and i would find her. We did not know what it looked like inside, so we could not make up a meeting place. We both had cell phones so i told her i would call her if we got separated. Well, the gates finally opened and all those people who were spread behind and next to us started pushing forward so they could get front row. There are no seats. It is all standing room. Well, i probably don't have to tell you that Erin and i almost immediately got pulled apart. I yelled for her to keep going. People were rushing to get to the stage and i saw two girls fall down and no one helped them. By the time i got through the gate, the front stage area was already JAM PACKED with people. I started to try to push my way through to get to Erin, but the music had started and it was so loud and the people were like a wall of concrete. I looked around for a security guard who might help me get to my daughter, but i couldn't find any. I went all the way to the right of the stage, right up in front, but all the way over to the right. I stood up on the little gate that separated to crowd from the stage to see if I could find Erin before i totally panicked. Well, i could see the head of the father and i assumed that Erin was with him. I did see Erin's hand holding her camera up, so at least i knew she was safe. Even though it was VERY loud, i called Erin to tell her where i was and to come to me so that she could be in the front AND be safe. I had lost my charger to my phone, so i had to use Rachel's phone, which does not have texting. Man, if i just had texting, the night would have been much better. But. i didn't. She answered the phone and could not hear me well, so she yelled into the phone that she was fine and was with her friends and would like to stay where she was. I figured that this was her special night and if she did not want to give up her spot--she was third row center--i would not force the issue. I told her where i was and that i would stay there if she needed me or that we would meet by the first aid station if she couldn't find me. So, the concert started. There were about 4 bands playing before the main attraction. I watched as about 7 security guards stood in front of the stage between the stage and the crowd. There was a tall wooden barrier between the crowd and the stage and the security guys stood in front of that. I started getting concerned when i saw the guards put gloves on and brace themselves in front of the crowd. Every song the crowd kept getting bigger and bigger and even i started getting pushed and shoved by young girls who wanted my spot in front. I held my ground and braced myself by holding onto the metal barrier that was in front of me. I called Erin again and she said she was fine but she couldn't answer the phone anymore because she wasn't able to reach it. What? I kept looking over to where i knew she was and i kept seeing her arm in the air holding her camera. The crowd was like one. jam packed together. After a while, I noticed that the guards were starting to pull people from the crowd in the front rows into the area between the crowd and the stage. Many of the girls were crying, but some were laughing. I assumed that they were being pulled out because they were doing something wrong. I heard rumors of people crowd surfing. If you don't know what that is, it is when people get ON TOP of the crowd, and the crowd basically passes the person to the front of the line. Then the guards would PULLLLLL and the person would pop out and walk to the side of the stage. I started to get a VERY bad feeling when i saw the father-daughter that we had met come up next to me. I thought Erin was with them, being protected by a big dad! I said "WHERE IS ERIN" They both said that they had been separated in the beginning and had not seen her. Oh dear. Now i panicked. I called Erin. No answer. So, i prayed. over and over and over. I did not know if God would hear my prayers over all the racket of the rock music ;) or if he would be mad at me for even taking Erin to this kind of concert. But i kept on praying. I did not even pay attention to the music anymore or what was going on around me. I just prayed for her safety. For about 20 minutes. Each time a guard pulled someone out of the crowd, i just knew it would be Erin. Finally, i was right. She came out and over to me and started crying. She was shook up and a little bruised. I took her to first aid station and got her ankle checked out. She was physically fine, but a little dehydrated and very shook up.
It turned out that the reason i kept seeing her arm in the air was because it was so packed with people, she could not even put her arm down!! People were shoving to get to the front while the crowd moved as one. The whole crowd would sway back and forth to the music and you had to go with the flow or get squooshed. Erin said that at first it was ok. She was not scared. She just held her ground. But, after a while, as the crowd got bigger and more packed together, she started getting claustrophobic and anxious. Once she heard that it would only get WORSE when Fall Out Boy, the main band she had come to see, hit the stage, that was it for her. What i thought was crowd surfing actually was people trying to get themselves out of the stifling crowd. They were crying because they were scared that they were gonna get hurt. Finally, Erin told those around her that she needed to get out. The only way out was to have the crowd physically pick you up and hand you overhead to the guards, who would then pull you out with a POP and put you on the ground. The whole thing was just so crazy. I had no idea that young girls could be dangerous like that. But, then i realized that they were mostly without parental authority and it was going to their heads. It was totally crazy and i will never, ever do general admission again.
Once Erin calmed down, we had been there for about 2.5 hours and her band had not yet taken the stage. We walked around the perimiter of the crowd, got a drink, bought a shirt and shorts with the band's name on it and just took a breath. Erin was devastated because she thought we would have to leave again before she could see her favorite band. I said as long as she stayed with me and she felt ok that we could stay. We tried to find a relatively open space to stand, but we were very far from the stage. Probably about 25 rows back. But, it was safe. I tried to hold her up so she could see better, and we were able to watch the rest of the show. It was actually pretty nice by then. The rain had stopped, the evening was cool and the crowd was thinning a bit because it was getting late and some were there to see only the other bands. Erin was able to enjoy the rest of the show in the safety of my arms. Seeing the joy in her face and how she just lit up with excitement when her favorite band hit the stage made the whole thing totally worth it. When it was over and we sat in the car, exhausted and sore, she thanked me up and down and told me how much she appreciated all that i do for her. That made it worth it too.
But, i won't do it again;)
So, that is my long concert story. I wish that Erin was in love with a Christian group, but she isn't. She is almost 17 and almost an adult. I have to keep remembering that every time i want to rescue her and tell her how to live. She has a good heart and a trust in God that is stronger than it used to be. She has a long way to go, but so do i, and for that matter, everyone else. Even though i spent much of the evening in panic and prayer, I made a memory with my daughter that she will have forever.
So, today i am thankful for:
1. God's protection over Erin
2. My daughter's heart and willingness to listen and learn from her mom.
3. Being able to make memories with my oldest