So when theunveiling proposed that we take our little guys to a TMBG concert for kids, I was all over that plan. The only problem: the McCarter Theatre claims to have a policy prohibiting children too young to walk into the venue under their own power and sit up in their own seats. No lap babies! theunveiling and I were pretty sure this was just a ploy to force people to buy tickets for seats they wouldn't really need to use, and that the management could not possibly be serious. After all, if you don't want people bringing very small children, don't book a TMBG kids' concert at your venue.
But, being conscientious people, we phoned the McCarter Theatre for clarification. And they told us flat out that if we arrived with theunveiling's pre-amublatory nine-month-old, she and her son would be turned away at the door, ticket or no ticket.
We believed them. We were grumpy about it, but we believed them.
So Dan and I went with Gareth, who is walking and able to sit in a folding theater seat, but without our friends. The show was fabulous beyond the telling of it. Gareth was a little overwhelmed, but he was fascinated by the proceedings on stage. He clung to Dan and me the whole time, his little eyebrows constantly in Concerned mode, while he assessed everything. Dan and I, who had fond memories of TMBG concerts on our respective college campuses, danced around like April fools and sang along with all the songs, checking every few minutes to make sure Gareth was still doing all right. It wasn't until the encore-begging round of applause that he freaked out, but he settled down pretty fast once the encore started.
On our way out, he gave his initial impressions, borrowed from the end-words of one of his rhyming books: "Loud! C(r)owd!" Yes, it was. And then, for the rest of the day, he prodded us to sing by cuing us with the little snippets of lyrics he could remember.
We had a great time. We'd have felt even better about our great time if it hadn't been for all families there who had brought their tiny babies. The policy I'd bothered to read, the one I'd taken seriously, the one my friend and I had phoned the management about, apparently only applies to conscientious people. As so often happens, scofflaws are rewarded for their heedlessness, and rule-followers are punished for following rules.
What I mind is not that a cultural institution whose mainstay is live theater finds it's necessary to charge for every seat it can get away with charging for. What I mind is not that the McCarter Theatre bars small children from most of their performances--nobody goes to an August Wilson play in hopes of sitting next to a chatty toddler. What I mind is that they refused to admit to being reasonable about admitting children to children's shows when we gave them a chance to tell us that they were reasonable.
I mind that their mildly anti-family policy turned into an inflexibly anti-my-friend's-family policy, precisely in response to our goodwill. Grr. Argh.