Events, concerts and new venues are part of Oklahoma City family fun and that variety always seems to be increasing. MetroFamily's calendar is full and my family's tends to be too. As the weather turns warmer, I know there will be even more we could go see and do. Weekend Picks, our Thursday newsletter, usually features the metro's 10 best events for the upcoming weekend plus five can't-miss community happenings going on the next week but our editors often are hard-pressed to choose which make the cut. We could easily feature twice that many in each edition.
I wrote a few weeks ago about all that there is to do during Spring Break and there are still plenty of related activities taking place. Choosing activities that work for multiple ages will be important at our house, with two boys ages 7 and 3, plus a new baby. While Oklahoma City has some amazing local venues we could enjoy as a family, I'd rather not take our youngest to public places for now, so we're trying the one-on-once concept: I take Sam or Isaac out on their own while Mario takes care of Gabriel at home. Going out as a couple has its place as well and we did that this past week – only to discover that we really missed Sam.
Carlos Santana's Corazón tour came to Civic Center Music Hall last Wednesday night. I bought the tickets as soon as they went on sale in December, still pregnant with Gabriel, and gleefully gave them to Mario for Christmas. I was sure the concert would be the first chance we'd have after the then-unnamed baby's birth to go out just the two of us and that's exactly what happened. It was something to look forward to and we planned a nice evening out.
Mario and I arrived downtown early, which rarely happens with children in tow. The dark stage seemed to glow with promise against blue and red tie-dye colors.
"Sam would have loved this. If there's a show tomorrow night, maybe we could still get tickets," Mario said as he glanced around at the audience gathered in suspense. I hadn't even considered buying our second-grader a concert ticket. It just didn't occur to me. I knew that anything still left for sale would either be very expensive or suspiciously cheap, so confirming that the tour stop was one-night only was something of a relief.
I agree, though, that Sam would have enjoyed the concert. He's heard half of those songs since he was born. We did the same thing when "Phantom of the Opera" was in town last summer. Mario took Sam the night after we attended because there are just some things worth doing. Six months later, Isaac has picked up all the songs through osmosis too and they're still sneaking off with my iPhone to put the score on YouTube.
Knowing what's appropriate when, though, isn't always easy to figure out as a parent.
"Forrest Gump" came out in 1994. I was 9 and my sister was 7. Our parents' friends didn't hesitate to point out we were the only children in the theater. It was an old-fashioned cinema built in 1929, with wooden floors and pretty light fixtures. Velvet curtains had to be pulled aside before each showing to reveal the cinema's singular silver screen and that particular movie proved to be wildly inappropriate, a sharp contrast to the elegant theater, for a child anyway. We sat through the film, mostly oblivious to its content but I do remember feeling I was not supposed to be there. Now that I'm a parent, I tease my own about the experience and no one can be certain just what they were thinking.
Kids are a lot smarter than they're given credit for and there are advantages to being open-minded about going to events together that aren't intended to be only for children. I'm sure we'll attend more of them when everyone is potty-trained and not screaming. I've managed not to take Sam or Isaac to anything that's frowned upon for their age group just yet but some outings are still a gamble, despite an ideal event or activity.
Will Gabriel have to be taken out of that very nice reading by David Sedaris, even though the best-selling author is only in Oklahoma City one night? Probably. Will there be tantrums in the very quiet art gallery? Possibly. Is it still worth attending? Some of the time, yes. And when it isn't, that's date night.