On a recent Saturday night, Joe and I attended a concert. The venue was new to us and kind of cool. It was definitely designed for the specific purpose of hosting bands and crowds. A stage at one end, a bar on one side, a bar in the back. Lots of standing room in between. Upstairs, a balcony open on three sides to allow a view of the stage from above and another bar. Add a couple of bathrooms and a merchandise table, that's about it.
The tickets stated "doors open at 8pm, show at 9pm". It also said "16+, under 21 = $3 surcharge". Because, obviously, they expect to make money on the drinks.
We arrived around 8:30 and the hall grew increasingly jammed. Not being a great fan of crowds (and also being short), this wasn't ideal for me but their air conditioning worked well and I've found that overheating is one of my worst anxiety attack triggers so I did ok.
The opening act started around 9:30. I looked to my left and saw something that seemed a bit out of place. What was it? It was two children. I'm not great at estimating ages but I'm guessing five and seven. And if family resemblance means anything, they were there with their folks (or at least very close relatives).
I kept expecting them to leave. Maybe they were relatives of the opening band? But they were still there when the main act took the stage at 10:30pm and remained through the end of the show which was well after midnight.
The main act, by the way, features some of the following lyrics (some may find these disturbing but they're a sample of the band's set):
Then through the glass I see your dress fall to the floor
As he embraces every inch of you
The woman I adore.
As I walked calmly numbing paralyzed beside the bed
I said “I know I’m not allowed to be here. I just had to see
How good this new man really f&*%s you. Cause you both been f&*%ing me.”
"You sit and watch me while I do this s%^& and learn from what I’ve said."
I cocked the pistol pulled the trigger, and all I saw was red
These are from a song about a husband sneaking back into his home, catching his wife and lover in the act, and shooting them both before committing suicide.
To be honest, I don't like to listen to a lot of that sort of thing (and it seems even worse here but I've deliberately selected some of the more offensive bits). The song above actually really bothers me and caused me to have nightmares that night. Seriously. And not EVERY lyric or song has that tone. But that intensity does run amok through most of their songs.
So, here's where all that "judging of parents" came up in conversation. Accountant Person asked about the concert and I was telling her about the venue, about how the live show was fantastic and intense. Then I mentioned the parents next to us with their two small children and "what in the world were they thinking bringing their kids to a bar at that hour to be exposed to that kind of language".
Accountant Person: You don't know what the circumstances were. Maybe they didn't have a choice!
me: No choice? About whether or not to bring their kids to that kind of show in that kind of environment at that hour?
AP: Yeah, maybe they couldn't find a babysitter.
me: Then it seems the option would've been to not attend.
AP: Life doesn't end when you have children! Why should they have to stay home if they want to go to the show?
me: Because they wanted kids and those are some of the choices you have to make? I'm not saying life has to end. But that just seems really inappropriate to me.
AP: Yeah, "it seems". You're not even a parent and you don't know the details so you have no right to judge.
I really can't think of any situation that would force the parents to bring their children into that environment. Unless that tall dude with them had a gun in his jacket, which seems unlikely.
However, poor choice aside regarding content/environment, it wasn't a situation that probably put the children in physical danger. There was no pushing or fighting. The bartender obviously wasn't serving the kids drinks. The club is even smoke-free so that wasn't an issue.
Maybe this is one of those gray areas. It's certainly very different from situations we've probably all (unfortunately) witnessed that were clearly dangerous or abusive.
So, tri-fold feedback I'm looking for in this post I guess since you all rocked the comments yesterday. Was I wrong for judging this situation (aka was I not allowed)? Am I wrong in thinking this was a really poor parenting choice? And when are outsiders allowed/obligated to speak up/intervene?
P.S. For the record, I didn't say anything, didn't give any looks, and wouldn't have said anything unless the crowd nearby was rowdy or something of that nature - like if they had been placing their children in a cage with armed robot armadillos, I probably would've objected. Instead, I judged them silently. And to Joe. And on my blog.
P.P.S. I'm not anti-accountants. Joe was almost an accountant. Until I talked some sense into him.