Baby Got Bach

Today I took my children to a classical accordion concert. Why? you might ask. There’s a concert series in London called Bach to Baby, which puts on classical music concerts specifically for babies through nursery-school-age children in different venues around the city. It costs £10 for an adult ticket, and children are free. “Classical music, feeding, crying, dancing, and nappy changing,” promises the website. Accurate.

Now, it certainly sounds like a beneficial thing, taking your baby to a classical music concert. This week I took her to the Hockney exhibition at the British Museum and to a classical music concert I imagine myself telling people. And then I imagine punching myself in the face, because who wants to be friends with THAT mom? I also let my older child watch an unspecified amount of Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig and some non-educational videos of weirdo adults playing with kids’ toys on YouTube, and gave her a PBJ for dinner. In the end, they’re not going to remember any of this, right? So what does it really matter?

This was our second Bach to Baby concert; the first one we went to was a cellist and a pianist, back in November. The venue closest to us is a church, the same church we went to for the Christmas Eve family nativity service (which was also packed to standing-room-only with families with young children—Nappy Valley, man; this place is no joke).

It’s chaos. A professional musician sits there playing in the midst of babies and toddlers just going, well, the phrase “wild rumpus” from Where the Wild Things Are comes to mind. The kids “dance” up front (yes, even to accordion music that at times sounded like it might have come from The Godfather score). They trip and fall and cry. They fight over kneeler cushions nicked from the pews, which they stack into towers to jump off of. They make a LOT of noise.

They also love to climb the stairs to the pulpit, sticking their heads through the holes in the possibly-centuries-old stonework, threatening to throw themselves over the edge, looking like wee Juliet, suicidal with her love for her Romeo down below. The parents go between crouch-running up there to reprimand their little darlings, and just letting them run wild, looking at one another with eyebrows and shoulders raised, like, well, what can we do?

“They should do these in the late afternoon instead,” I whispered to my friend, “so they can serve wine.”

Just then, someone’s child vomited on the carpet. There was a flurry of horrified mummy movement to clean it up before any of the little whirling dervishes stepped in it.

My friend’s daughter declared she needed the toilet, then strolled right across the front of the stage past the musician, lifting up her dress and pulling her tights down.

“Do you think that makes him feel like a proper rock star?” I said to the woman on the other side of me. “A girl taking off her pants on stage?” No doubt the highlight of his career as an accordionist.

At the end, a woman comes up with a microphone and leads everyone in singing some nursery rhyme songs all kids know, while the musician plays along. All in all, E enjoyed dancing with her friends, R at least seemed to enjoy watching all the kids dance, and neither of my children expelled any bodily fluids onto the church carpet, so I’d say it was a good morning.

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