Three months ago, my son came to me and asked to go to the Vans Warped Tour. For the uninitiated, Warped is a big, open air festival with 10 stages and scores of different alternative music acts that nobody over 30 has heard of. My immediate response was a resolute "NO!". My husband and I usually take him to see whatever shows he wants to see, but this was outdoors, in July and included mosh pits where scores of sweaty Scene Kids bang their heads, flail arms and legs and drip technicolor hair dye on each other. Not so good for the over 40 set.
Needless to say, he was unhappy with my answer and countered with how so and so's mother was going to chaperon a group of 7 kids. My response to this was "I don't know so and so's mother and how does she plan to rescue her kid when they get sucked into the swirling vortex of a mosh pit?". Once again, unhappy teen.
The harassing went on for a short period of time and eventually got lost in the chaos of finals and friends going off to camp and other end of school year whatnot. Then, like George Michael, it rose up again, out of nowhere and crashed through my living room. This time he asked to go with different friends and a smaller group. This time an older brother, in his early 20's was chaperoning. This time, I knew the parents of this friend and knew that they were very protective of their daughter. They would be well looked after. This time, despite my concerns, I said "Yes".
It wasn't easy for me to get to yes. There was a labyrinth of decisions and concerns that I had to wade through to get to yes.
Was he responsible enough?
Would he avoid the mosh pit of doom?
Would he be able to navigate around any drunk or druggy attendees?
Would it be too hot?
Would he remember to hydrate?
Would his hair frizz? (What? It's July, people.)
Well, guess what? He made it back alive. He rolled in around 11:00 PM, so excited to have gone. He got his sneakers signed by his favorite band (Pierce the Veil? I know. Me either.), saw five different bands perform and managed to get a great picture of Never Shout Never for his sister (I know. Me either.). And while they had a minor incident where his friend got bonked in the head by an out of control crowd surfer, they took her to the medical tent and seemed to handle situation responsibly and she ended up being ok.
My son has often accused me of being a little overprotective. But despite these tendencies, I let him go. It's not like I didn't text every half hour or so reminding him to hydrate. And it's not like I didn't pace or chew my nails a little whenever I stopped and thought about him being there. But I did manage to be at ease with it enough that I didn't have to take a xanax or breathe into a paper bag to stop hyperventilating. Attending this concert was only one small step in my son's blossoming independence, but it was one giant leap for "Helicopter Mom".