Question Formulation: Do I need to take medication before attending instrumental holiday concerts?

This morning I attended an orchestra/band assembly at the elementary school.

It’s no secret that I tend to cry when kids sing, but I figured I was safe at a band concert. Just music. NO WORDS!

HYPOTHESIS: If I attend an instrumental holiday concert, I will not experience water dripping off of my chin (from my eyes, obviously. I’ve got the drooling thing under control. Mostly.).

TESTING: The first few songs were totally safe. Choral of the Bells with the fifth grade violinists and the eighth grade string orchestra. Some sort of boogie thing that was nice and short. Something Scottish. I was strong and smiley and was actually one of the (very) few parents who enjoyed the show without holding a phone or tablet out toward the performers. (How many of these people will actually watch the concert again? Any of them? How ridiculous do we all look because we can no longer just enjoy something without feeling the need to somehow archive it? I am not free of guilt when it comes to feeling the need to prove that I attended an event or ate at a restaurant. It’s all so weird, isn’t it?)

The string orchestra finished up and the audience shifted focus toward the other side of the gym where the eighth grade band had set up. After a quick introduction of the instruments, the show kicked off with a medley from The Polar Express. I looked up toward the stage and made eye contact with Meredith. She opened her eyes and gave me an “Oh No!” gulp before whispering something to her friend. (What did she whisper to her friend? I’m guessing she whispered, “My mom has no spine and will probably start beating on her legs very soon.”)

It wasn’t long before I detected a musical segue into the  When Christmas Comes to Town portion of the medley. I hate When Christmas Comes to Town. HATE it. Sadly, if I’m unable to turn it off and I hear more than 15 seconds of it, I have to start blinking like a frequent blinker and patting my hands on my legs and contemplating Whitey Herzog in order to fight off the tears. BUT: NO WORDS. This is  just an instrumental! You can’t stop the band from playing, so you may as well just enjoy and DON’T THINK ABOUT THE LYRICS! I need to get coconut milk and avocados at the store. I should probably switch to a different moisturizer during the winter months. I really need to think more about doing unto others the way I want them to do unto me. AND, now we’ve arrived at the part about “Presents for the children, wrapped in red and green. All the things I’ve heard about but never really seen.” (Why do I even KNOW the lyrics?! I can never remember who provides our health insurance, yet I retain this sort of crap.) Damnit. Damnit. It’s happening, and no one will stop the song, AND: Tears jumping out of my eye holes, and me without waterproof mascara. WHITEY HERZOG! WHITEY HERZOG! (Here’s an actual photo of me taken after the assembly by one of the iPad moms.)

ANALYSIS: It doesn’t take much to destroy me, does it? AND, apparently it doesn’t even take the voice of a child to make me squirrely. Further experimentation will need to take place in order to figure out the source of the emotion. Am I stirred by all songs featured in motion capture computer animated fantasy films based on books written for children? Does a holiday song written in the key of E-flat affect me more than one written in the key of C? Do I have seasonal affective disorder? Epiphora caused by upper lacrimal drainage system problems?

RESULT: HYPOTHESIS REJECTED. Can someone please bring me a fluffy blanket and an avocado sandwich?

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18 thoughts on “Question Formulation: Do I need to take medication before attending instrumental holiday concerts?”

  1. At this stage of your life can you really tell which is the Key of C and which is the Key of E flat.

  2. the funny thing is that I was blubbering away during the “Holiday Sing” at Clara’s school – EVEN during times when she wasn’t on stage!! – and I thought of you because you were all sympatico about crying because she could do the monkey bars. Anyway – question answered. You probably would have been blubbering away with me. The other thing is that I’m always looking at the other parents and wondering why THEY aren’t crying? I mean, these people were amoebas a blink of an eye ago & now they are doing beautiful musical presentations complete with hand motions in front of a couple hundred people. It floors me.

  3. I attended my 6 y/o’s Christmas pageant Monday night. I commanded myself not to cry. And I mostly made it until they thanked the music teacher. Why am I such a basket case? I don’t even know the music teacher. I’m a sucker for earnestness. It’s just such a beautiful, bare emotion. I’m powerless against it.

  4. I cry all the freakin’ time at nothing. If there’s a good drug for that, let me know. Until then, it helps to know I’m not alone!

  5. I used to think myself a freak at those Friday night games when the marching band played. I had to work today during the 5th grade concert and hated not being able to shed my freak tears. I need to shed those tears! I did it late tonight for old times sake.

  6. Oh dear. I’ve never seen the polar express… I should be safe, right?

    (my 8yr old danced the walz and the cha-cha at a school thing last week…. I was the only one crying. WHY? I mean… I’m the normal one here, am I not?)

  7. I AM THE SAME WAY. I cry at EVERY children’s performance: singing, music, dancing, play — it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t even matter if my child is actually IN the play: I was in the middle of Kenya watching children perform in a language I didn’t know, and I was a complete mess.

    I can’t tell you how heartening this post is for me — I am not alone with the Spigot Eyes. I AM NOT ALONE.


  8. Haaaaaang on a minute. Did you just say Meredith was in 8th grade? EIGHTH GRADE? Your Meredith? Is that true? Am I delirious from eating too much (naturally sweetened) Christmas candy? Why is my upper lip sweating?

  9. I’ve been getting all choked up at ridiculous things lately, but I chalked it up to a long hard semester culminating in the flu and exhaustion. I finally made it home to my parents where the plan is to sleep for 2 weeks. So far, accomplishing the goal. Also not listening to my weepy Christmas mix out of self preservation.

  10. Oh, dear. I’m going to print this out, along with all the comments, and carry it with me. I, too, am a crier. I could barely hear anything that happened at my daughter’s wedding because I was such a mess. I try to be discreet, but it seems that everyone notices anyway.

    I’ve always been like that. Since I was very, very young. I was just sentimental. My husband first freaked out when he found out that Hallmark commercials set me off. He’s a sweet man, but I think he figured I’d outgrow it some day. More than 35 years later he now just says, “Oh, don’t show your mother that cute picture — it’ll set her off.”

    Next time that happens I’m unfolding (with great flourish) the Fluid Pudding post and comments that show I’m a member of a very nice club. I think that’s better than saying “Bite me.”

  11. I cry at everything already, but Christmas is a particularly cry-y time of year for me. We were at a holiday market place today and “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” came on and kablam, instant tears.

    My parents taped (giant camcorder, ahoy!)all of our band performances and to my knowledge, have never watched a single one. I watch people at concerts watching the show through their phones and it makes me sad. Just be there, damn it (although I will then be disappointed when there are no YouTube videos uploaded).

  12. I love a woman who can reference Whitey Herzog in a blog post! (From the woman who watched seven straight hours of Ken Burns’ “Baseball” documentary on MLB Network on Christmas Day!)

  13. I have been so busy I am just getting caught up on my pudding reading! As a music teacher – try playing the piano accompaniment to that song while you have Kinder, first and second graders singing it!!! YEP – it is a good thing that I have it memorized, because I am a blubbery mess EVERY time! I even attempted to do the black light thing one year with snowflakes and trains to hide my blubbery eyes, but NO – the tears still came, as well as many parents who were sniffle-ing – you could hear it in the cafetornasium!!!!! OMG!!! best concert ever, but definitely the tearyest!!!

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