recital-etiquette

My husband and I were beaming with pride when we got our very first notice from our kindergartner’s school informing us that there would be a holiday recital and that our son would be performing along with his class. The day of the show we got all dressed up, charged our cell phones to record the event, and kissed our kiddo on the top of his head about 1,000 times while wiping away our excited tears and wishing him good luck.

He took the stage with his troupe of classmates and they clomped their way through the roughest version of “Jingle Bells” that I’ve ever heard and it was freaking adorable. But then, halfway through the event, we noticed that parents were actually getting up and leaving. WTF? We also overheard one teacher quietly explaining to a dad in the front row that he needed to stop talking on his phone. Huh?!

What happened to manners or basic etiquette during a performance? If I could, I would staple the following rules of good behavior to the foreheads of some of those parents who were there that day.

1. Be on time. It is rude to be late, obviously, but it is even more rude to be late and then disrupt a performance while you find your seat and loudly whisper excuses while you trip over feet and purses in the aisle. Please, just be on time.

2. Be quiet. Seriously. When the performance starts, stop talking. How hard is that? Don’t be that one person in the audience carrying on a conversation while everyone else is straining to hear Becky in row three of the chorus, nervously trying to hit her high notes in her very fist solo. Show Becky, and the other kids, and the parents, some respect, and pipe down.

3. Remain seated for the entire event. Possibly the rudest behavior that you have got to see to believe is when parents have the nerve to get up and leave partway through an event because their kid’s performance is over. Sit. Back. Down. By leaving an event early you are basically telling the kids that you don’t care about the work they put into the production. Don’t be that guy.

4. Follow the freakin’ rules about cameras. Okay, on the one hand, it is super annoying that some schools will tell parents not to record an event because they are recording the event and selling it at $40 a pop. Sure, that is annoying AF. In that case, as long as you are not distracting the audience or performers then sure, go sneak off to a corner and record away. (Notice I said corner; you should not stand up in the front row and block everyone else’s view.) But if the protocol is simply to turn off your notifications so that there are not 400 dings and beeps then please, for the love of God, follow that rule. Ditto on the rules about turning the flash off and blocking other members of the audience. Be kind and respectful so that everyone can enjoy the show.

5. Follow the protocol for applause. At my kid’s school, the teachers ask the audience to shake their hands in the air instead of clap. The first few times I did this I felt stupid, but after a while, I kind of saw the logic in that practice; it seemed to keep the kids from getting too excited and going bonkers. If there is no such protocol then follow general politeness and refrain from shouting, whistling, and being louder than the folks next to you. Clap like the Queen of England.

6. Turn off your damn cellphone. Assuming that you are prohibited from recording the event, have the forethought and decency to turn your phone off. Even just having it on vibration can be annoying and distracting to other audience members, not to mention the kids trying to perform their sweet little hearts out.

7. Remove your crying babies and toddlers from the audience. Yes, as hard as it is to point this out, sometimes kids are a loud handful. And sure, while there is a time a place for that, a performance or assembly is not one of them. Quietly escort your child out into a hallway and try to calm her down so that she can go back in and enjoy the show. At the very least, other parents and audience members will be able to relax and watch the performance.

School performances are milestones in a child’s life and perfect for making memories that last for years to come. Help ensure that your child’s big day goes smoothly by being that audience member who shows respect and decency in the audience. Your kid might not thank you for it, but I sure will.

Photo: Getty