The idea of spending $300 on a night out with the girls gave me pause, but I felt like this is something that they will remember for the rest of their lives. “Making memories”, is what I kept telling myself as I stuck the crowbar in my wallet, and pried out the debit card to pay the outrageous (making…) Ticketmaster (..memories) fees and taxes associated with the show. Besides, Willow was just under two, which meant that she was admitted for free!
Lux suggested we let her stay home with a sitter. “It will be less stressful,” she said. But I don’t like leaving a man behind on family activities. Plus, there was no cost for her ticket AND another bonus; no paying a babysitter. I was practically making money!
We didn’t tell Evie where we going that night. In fact, Lux teased her by putting a note in her lunch that said, ‘We have a surprise for you!’. I was pretty sure that this was a bad idea, certain that Evie would read this, stand up and announce that she was finally getting a baby brother.
When Evie returned from school, the badgering began. She couldn’t help herself. “Where’s my surprise?” “How big is it?” “Is it living or dead?” and on and on. We held off on telling her, but I thought it best to get Willow hyped up by asking her throughout the day, “Are you going to go to a show tonight?” “Yeah yeah”, she replied. I was relieved that she was finally putting two words together.
Ninety minutes before show time, I got onto my computer to print the tickets that were emailed to me by Ticketmaster. (I wondered if I was being charged for that service? Yep.) The first ticket printed about half way, the bottom half fading away into the white of the paper. Damn it! Out of ink. A twenty minute run to Office Max, another few minutes to put some deodorant on, pat down my hair, and put on a clean shirt (don’t judge me..), and we will be back in business.
After my return from Office Max, I realized that I was nearly out of white paper. Plenty of the pink and green, but out of white. Evie’s likes to write stories on my white paper, stapling the pages together to create her own books that are often scattered around the house. I always encourage her to do so, although from now on she will be required to write more than one word on each page.
So, three sheets of paper left. Perfect. Three tickets = Three sheets. I put the new ink cartridge in, and the printer starts printing. But what’s this? An alignment sheet?!! I need to scan what?! One hour to show time and I am scanning the required sheet so that I can ‘maximize the quality of prints’. I search the house high and low, to find another sheets of white paper. I’m forced to tear a sheet out of one of Evie’s ‘books’. I couldn’t tell you the title of the particular book that I ripped the page out of, but the one word on the page was “kising.” I assumed the word was misspelled; that my 6 year-old daughter wrote a book about the genealogy of the German name Kitsing, and left it at that.
I printed the tickets, put the family in the car, made the drive to downtown, found parking and wonder of wonders, we had fifteen minutes to spare. Van Andel arena was abuzz! While we were waiting in line, we explained to Evie what she was about to see, and though she didn’t quite understand, she was excited nonetheless. Willow was more skeptical, having been at this arena one time before for Sesame Street Live, which she liked well enough, until that goddamn Bert got off the stage and came toward her. Damned Bert.
We found our seats (4th row!) and sat happily waiting for the two and a half hour show to begin. My wife leaned over to me, gave me a kiss on the cheek and thanked me. Evie’s eyes were wide, Willow’s pacifier was being sucked at a quickened pace. The lights went down. The spotlight lit up a young girl off the stage, dressed colorfully, with a giant umbrella turned upside down. A loud ‘drip’ sound effect, and she caught the imagined raindrop in the umbrella. Another drip, another catch. “So pretty!” I said to Willow. She responded by doing a little bit of the Itsy Bitsy Spider rain sign. Yes! She really is brilliant. I looked at Evie, who was already lost in this wonderful imaginary world. What a great night.
And then another sound effect. A loud thunderclap, followed by ‘lightening’. The next thing I knew, Willow was climbing up me like a spider monkey being shot at by poachers, screaming “No! No! No! No!…” And that was that. Cirque Du Soooo Over for Willow and me.
One of the great things about Van Andel arena is that the security guards will let you ride the escalator up and down and up and down for at least two hours and 28 minutes straight.
Brian Vander Ark is the lead singer for the band The Verve Pipe. He’s also a solo artist and a dedicated father, though he will gladly shell out $40 in babysitting fees and ‘leave a man behind’ whenever his wife deems it necessary. After all, he wrote a song for his girls, and he thinks that it should make up for his occasional poor parenting. You can listen to a sample and purchase it if you Click Here.