Not every parent can say she has seen each of her teenagers’ favorite music groups in concert with them – but I have – and I recommend it! Just the other night, I saw J. Cole in concert at Universal Studios while on vacation – and this experience rounded out my checklist.
To date I had already seen the Foo Fighters and Coldplay with my eldest – then 16-year-old son; and Kid Cudi (really!) with my 15-year-old daughter.
It is a great feeling to enjoy the concerts together – to see my kids’ faces light up when their favorite songs begin – to hear them (her) scream at the top of their lungs – to watch them sway and jump to the music when instructed by the artist – and to reminisce excitedly with them about their favorite moments as we exit the venue.
The best part for me though, is when my kids say “thanks!” in that-out-of-breath way at the end of the night, or the time when my daughter thanked me for being “so cool.”
However, until the other night, I had not had the benefit of sharing in this kind of adventure with my middle son, Justin, now 17. Justin‘s taste in music is original and independent. He likes hip-hop and beat-driven tracks. He keeps me up to date with his latest interests: classics like Biggie Smalls; cutting edge like Skrillex; and his favorite artist, J. Cole.
So, the kids were excited that we happened upon the “free” concert featuring J. Cole at Universal – but I think I was the one who was the most excited. I wanted to see my son’s favorite artist in concert – with him!
I wasn’t disappointed. From the first word of the first song, Justin rapped along with J. Cole – every tone, every nuance, head and hand motion, mimicked by my rhythmic son.
J. Cole, an artist I only knew through the one song Justin had played for me, was charming, respectful, and entertaining. During the performance, J. Cole explained that Universal Studios had instructed him to cut out the swear words and target an audience of parents and 10-year-olds. He went on to say that he was pleasantly surprised to see so many fans in the audience and frequently asked his fans to be patient as he talked about his songs, his background and his life. He made a point of telling the young crowd that he became an entertainer only after he had finished college.
MUSIC AS LANGUAGE
So, I’m now a fan – and, after the concert, Justin smiled proudly when we talked over my reactions to the performance. And, thanks to this concert, we have something else in common, a specific experience that no one and no amount of teenage hormones can take away.
Music has always been a language I can speak with my teenagers. It is a language without expectations, without responsibility or criticism. When we talk music, we have common ground – and, more often than not, it is a subject with which they know more about. They correct me, tease me and teach me – and that’s great for relationship building. You should try speaking the language of music with your teenagers too – and maybe go to a concert with them (don’t just drop them off)! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you do.