Wednesday night we went to Prospect Park to see the New York City Philharmonic’s annual free concert. I have been going to this concert since I moved here. It has evolved from a night with friends, to a romantic night with Adam, to a couple years off when we had little ones, and now it’s a time for our kids to run wild with their friends, catch lightening bugs and playing with glowsticks while the adults sip wine, talk, and maybe take in a bit of the music.
It’s an awesome evening.
When you go to a free concert with kids, there are some rules I believe folks should follow:
1. You sit in the backity back back of the concert goers. Those who want to hear the music don’t want to hear your kids.
2. You keep your kids from running around, near, or on other people’s blankets. (Disclaimer: If you are sitting way in the backity back back BEHIND me, then this rule does not apply. The way backity back back is kid zone.)
3. You do not let your kids play with objects that might hurt/soak/knock out other concert goers who are in your vicinity and who are not your friends. Such objects include balls, frisbees, water guns, crazy bubble machines, etc.
We found a perfect place and then guess what? A soccer game of kids came and set up right next to us. AN ENTIRE SOCCER GAME, goals, balls, about 10 kids and all.
I wanted to get all huffy and puffy and “not in my backity back back!” with those kids (they were around 10-12 years old), and I started to fume, wondering where were the moronic adults/parents who did not follow the same rules of me…until I saw the dad who seemed to be in charge of this group of young ones.
This guy–the dad–was a frequenter of the coffee shop circuit in Park Slope when I was home on sabbatical from teaching high school and writing my dissertation. I would often write in coffee shops to get out of my apartment, and in the spring of 2009 they were (and probably still are) PACKED with freelancers, each and every person vying for the few outlets that each coffee shop has.
But this guy would come to work in the coffee shop with a powerstrip. He would ask someone to let him plug his powerstrip in, and then six more of us could plug in, too. Power for all.
It was the kindest thing I have ever seen anyone do at any coffee shop in my life, and I have been frequenting coffee shops since 12th grade when we all became obsessed with Cup-a-Joe in Raleigh. I have never forgotten this guy’s face or his random act of kindness.
With this in mind, I just couldn’t be annoyed at this guy. I told our friends his story, and we all took a deep breath and relaxed, hoping a soccer ball wouldn’t knock us senseless, relieved of our bratty anger.
Sometimes, there’s another story beneath what we see. It’s so nice when you actually know what that story is.