I play music for kids. I write songs, I sing and I play guitar and I have a band in NYC. I am so grateful for this part of my life and I consider it a gift that I get to do this. I feel that it’s a pretty special job. My kids, however, don’t always feel this same way. They have been doing this with me their whole lives.
The truth is for any working Mom, juggling bringing your kids to work can be pretty stressful. The hardest part for me is to keep them happy and still make smart decisions on the spot. During shows, I have a lot of things going on at the same time, and I need to keep my cool. My son is 13 now, so a lot of times he will sell CD’s for me, or just stay home. Emma, however, is only 6 and she has no choice but to come with me. She also performs as my backup singer.
Last week I was asked to be a part of this great music festival in PA, called Musikfest. There was no babysitting option for us, so Emma had to come along, as she very often does. Luckily we didn’t have to leave before 11:30am, so she had time to wake up, watch an episode of Peppa Pig (her new favorite), and eat something. During this time I am frantically getting everything together and packing up the car… CD’s, T-shirts, cash box, guitar, money for the band, the usual performance stuff. I also have to remember to pack snacks for the car, and things for Emma to do.
“Would you like to bring some things to do in the car?” I asked Emma.
“You know, like stuffed animals, or coloring books, or a movie.”
“Can I play with your iphone”
“Are you going to be good listener today?”
“Will you remember to smile onstage?”
“But,” I continue… “when I need it, I need you to give it to me right away.”
“Ok” she mumbles.
“Time to get dressed.”
“What did I say about the listening?”
She gets dressed.
The minute we get into the car. “Can I have your iphone?”
“Not yet. I need to pick up the guys first and when we are REALLY on the road, then you can use it.”
Grumbles from the backseat.
We get to Manhattan in record time and I tell her that we have time for a snack.
“Can I have a hamburger?”
“Um, I guess so. I was thinking more like a bagel or something.”
“I don’t like bagels. I want a hamburger, Mama.”
So, a quick glance across the street I see there is a diner, so in we go to order her hamburger. Oh, and by the way, my daughter claims to be a vegetarian.
20 minutes later, after she has eaten half of her burger and declares that she is too full to move, we are out the door and on our way to pick up the guys.
Our ride to Bethlehem, PA was blissfully painless and quiet due to the wonders of my iphone. Also for the fact that my guitar player agreed to drive. We are all in good moods and when we get to the performance space we have plenty of time to look around before our sound check.
“Can I get something to eat?” Emma says.
“Sure, ok, honey.”
We find a corn stand and Emma chooses this as her lunch.
“Are you sure you just want corn?” I ask.
“I already had a burger, remember.”
We buy her corn and she is happily eating it on the way back to the stage, where I am now getting mentally ready for my performance, and out of nowhere, she shrieks.
“Mama!” A bee. Of course.
“Mama! There was a bee on my leg!”
“Did you get stung?”
“No. I don’t think so.”
We examine her leg and no welt.
“I think you are Ok, honey. Let’s go back to our tent and you can eat your corn there in the dressing room.”
She finishes her corn, we clean her up, and we both change into our performance dresses. I love sharing this time with her. She does, too.
“Would you like to us my lip gloss, Mama?”
“Why yes, thank you!”
Soon it is time for our first set.
“Now remember, you have three songs to sing. Smile In My Heart, Lift Me Up and Road Trip.”
“I don’t want to sing Smile In My Heart. I don’t like that song.”
“Really?” “But it’s new and your cousin Annabelle helped write it.”
“I know, but I just don’t like it.”
“Oh” I say, looking at my watch. We have 3 minutes.
“All right. So, just do the other two.”
“And please don’t forget to smile.”
We are onstage and it’s Emma’s cue to come on and I look over and she is playing with my IPOHNE!
As beads of sweat started to pour down my face, I announce her name again into the microphone in front of an entire audience of people, and she realizes that it’s her turn and casually puts down the iphone and clomps onstage.
She is not wearing a smile. She is not even remotely happy to be onstage. She is clearly annoyed to have been taken away from her game. She was actually even limping a bit because her shoes hurt her feet.
We do her two songs, and I can’t say a word about it since I am on the stage with a mic in front of me, and I am just hoping that the audience doesn’t really notice. As she starts to go back down, I give her “the look” but I’m not sure if she saw it. I decide to not worry about it until after the set. I am still sweating. A lot. The guys give me a nod and we keep going.
We finish up and I go over to her. She is on the iphone.
“Emma. Put that iphone down this minute.”
“I said this minute.”
When she has finally turned it off, I put the phone in my purse and explain to her that she it not to use it again until we get into the car and that is only when I hand it to her myself, and this is ONLY if she did a good job on the next set and remembers to smile.
My saving grace was the fact that my good friend Kira Willey was performing with us on the second set, along with her two kids to sing with Emma. They arrived right on cue, and all was right in the world. Emma played with the kids in the dressing room while we all got ready for the second set. Kira is like a breath of fresh air, and I soon forgot all about the last set.
Our second set rocked. Kira’s cousin Beau played drums with us, and that gave us more energy and we all had a great time. Emma did a stellar job and so did Kira’s kids. They smiled and Emma really raised her arms high and sang out. The audience seemed to have a good time, too. I was really proud of her and after the show, I told her so.
“Emma, you did a great job, honey.”
“Thank you. Can we get an ice cream?”
“And then can I use your iphone in the car?”
It’s an hour and half drive home. And technically, she did what I had asked her to do.