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Children’s Holiday Performance Etiquette for Adults

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The holidays are one of the cutest times of the year. Why you ask? Because it is prime school concert and pageant season. All our kids turned out in their finest, dressiest clothes or delightful costumes up on stage performing cheesy songs or festive plays—it’s so darn adorable and a moment for every proud adult in that child’s life to enjoy. BUT APPARENTLY ALL THE ADULTS NEED A REMINDER THAT THEIR PRECIOUS SNOWFLAKE ISN’T THE ONLY KID ON THE DAMN STAGE. So, let me provide all the adults in the room some etiquette refreshers for viewing children’s holiday programs.

1. Taking pictures or video of Junior? Consider using a regular camera. You know how you’re supposed to turn off your cellphone when you go to the theater or to the movies because the glow from the screen is annoying AF to your fellow audience members? Well, the glow of your phone is equally irritating to the folks around you who are trying to watch the kids on stage, especially if you’re at a one those really fancy events where the kids are actually in a theater with lighting. Even if your regular camera has a screen, chances are is not nearly the size of your giant-ass phablet so it’s way less distracting. And no matter what you’re using turn. off. your. flash.

2. Speaking of cameras, they don’t need to be any higher than your eyes. If you’re holding your camera/phone/iPad (I’m not even joking) higher than eye level, you’re being a jerk and blocking someone else’s view. Whether they’re just trying to watch the show, or they’re trying to get a photo or recording of their own kid, they can’t do it if you’re pretending to be six feet tall by using your camera as a periscope. Hold it down.

3. A children’s program is a kid-friendly event, but that’s not permission for Junior’s siblings to forget their theater manners. If you’re attending the event with children who aren’t performing (or who have already performed or who will be performing later) who find that they are unable to sit still or keep quiet, please remove them until they have gotten their wiggles out. Yeah, it’s sad that you might miss your kid’s big moment, but a) someone’s probably recording it, so you’re good and b) the good of the many outweighs the good of the one. In other words, sorry that you’ll miss your kid, but better you miss your kid than twenty people around you miss a chunk of the show because Susiqueue and Brunhilda were bored and wanted to play. And you know what? Audience noise is distracting to the performers, too—especially those little ones with the speaking roles they’ve worked so hard to memorize.

4. Got a baby with you? See Number 3. Yes, babies cry. Chances are that if you’re at a children’s program, you had a baby at one point, so you’re empathetic to this fact. But if you’ve got a baby that’s making more than a brief sad (or joyful!) squeal or two, please get thee to a place where you can bounce the baby—out of the way of the audience’s line of sight, please—to calm it, or if need be, remove the baby from the auditorium completely until it’s calm. Again, sorry if you have to miss a bit of the program, but it’s for the greater good. Hugs to you and thank you for sacrifice; it really is appreciated! Oh, and one more thing. If you brought another adult with you and you’re handing the baby back and forth, please also See Number 2. I have a video of an entire song that is two-and-a-half minutes of an entire grade singing and a baby being intermittently passed in front of them. Do not lift that baby over your head like Simba when you’re doing your hand-off. Believe me when I tell you it will not be taking over the Pride Lands when it grows up.

5. And finally, please for the love of God and all that is holy: DO NOT LEAVE UNTIL THE ENTIRE PROGRAM IS OVER. Just because you’ve seen your little love perform does not mean you get to go. There are still a ton (sometimes a couple hundred) other kids who’ve practiced their little hearts out just as hard as your kid did, and they deserve to perform in front of the same full house that your child had. Now don’t get me wrong—I absolutely understand that there are extenuating circumstances and some folks are barely able to squeeze their own kid’s performance in before they need to be at work. But that is most certainly not true for the thirtyish families who took their children home after the first set at a performance I attended recently. (The kicker there was that all the kids were supposed to perform together in a whole-school performance at the end of the show. Nice.) No offense, but I didn’t really want to sit through the first and final thirds of the show and watch all the kids I didn’t know in order to see my kid in the middle, but I absolutely did—and I gave the kids my full attention and enthusiasm. Why? Because they’re kids, they worked hard, they gave it their all, and it was important to them.

In the end, that’s what this etiquette reminder is really all about. It’s about supporting EVERY CHILD on that stage and treating EACH ONE OF THEM as if they are just important as your own. So, come on guys. Let’s act like adults, mind our manners, be respectful, set a good example for the kids, keep your cameras at eye level and stay in your seat until the show is over. Thanks!

Me, The Other Audience Members Who Are Trying To See, and The Kids Who Are Watching You


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