Keep it together because the kids are watching

April 13, 2007|by LISA PREJEAN

Even though it has been unseasonably cool, there have been several signs that spring has arrived. The robins are making preparations for their nests. Rabbits hop here and there across the fields. Swimwear is prominently displayed in the major department stores. Sports teams are practicing at area parks.

Warm weather, hopefully, will follow soon.

The clearest sign that spring has arrived in our home is the state of our calendar. Like most parents of school-age children, we know that for the next eight weeks or so, the pace is going to be fast and the activities will be numerous. The last marking period is typically the busiest in terms of events.

We're already talking about how many times we're going to "divide and conquer," one of us taking the firstborn to an event, the other taking child number two to a different activity. (Don't ask my husband about this. He only wants to know what we're doing today.)


We know that it's only going to be like this for a couple of years, so we can handle it. Before we know it, they'll both be away at college and we'll be longing for these busy times.

Actually, we enjoy going and doing with our kids. We've met many nice families through the activities that interest our children. It is encouraging to see parents who care enough to be involved in their children's lives.

As all of us gear up for the spring concert/recital/drama/competition season, it would be wise to be reminded that our children learn a lot from us even when we aren't participating.

They see how we conduct ourselves on the sidelines or in the audience. Are we modeling polite, courteous behavior? If not, what message does that send to our children?

Here are some things we need to keep in mind as we support the kids of our community with our attendance at their special events:

1. Children should be brought to performances 10 to 15 minutes before they're supposed to be there. This will help to calm pre-stage jitters.

2. Parents should take their seats a few minutes early and stay seated throughout the performance. If you'd like to take photos during the performance, go to the aisle and make sure you're not blocking anyone's view. Better yet, talk to your child's teacher about the possibility of setting up photos before or after the performance. These photos typically come out better and you don't run the risk of distracting the performers with your flash.

3. Turn off your cell phone before the performance starts. Better yet, leave your cell phone in the car. Most phone calls can wait an hour or two.

4. Be considerate of the people around you. Don't talk to your neighbor during a performance.

5. If you must leave the auditorium, try to pick a good time. Don't get out of your seat when a soloist is performing. Move when the actors/singers move or when there's a break for applause.

6. If you bring a preschooler, plan to remove the child if he or she starts fussing or crying. (Isn't there a baby sitter you could trust for a few hours?)

7. Don't leave after your child has performed. If you stay for the entire production, you might learn a lot about the organization, school, teachers, etc. Plus, you might even enjoy yourself.

8. If you know in advance that you're going to have to leave early, sit in the back so you cause minimal distraction.

9. If you don't want your program, deposit it in the nearest trash can. Don't leave it in your seat or throw it on the floor.

10. If your child is being evaluated by judges, look at the judging sheets carefully. Don't take offense at any negative comments. Talk with your child about the benefits of constructive criticism. What can be learned from the judges' comments and what can be done differently for future competitions?

11. Most of all, enjoy each moment that you get to spend as your child's biggest fan. It's your privilege as a parent.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

The Herald-Mail Articles