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Saturday, April 19, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 36.0° F  Fair
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ISTHMUS PARENTS

Mama Madison: Milestones: The first concert
Make it meaningful for you both


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Parenting. It's filled to the brim with meaningful firsts. First smiles, first words, first steps. I am pretty sure my mom still has my first shoes, bronzed, somewhere in storage. And I've always thought about doing something creative with my kids' lost baby teeth. But to be honest, these milestones, and the relics they spawn, are pretty parent-centric; very meaningful to us, and to grandparents perhaps, but not something your kid is actually going to remember.

But, while rarely making the baby book, there is one childhood first that will be shared gleefully with his freshman year roommate. It will inspire at least one high school essay and serve as first date conversation fodder in the years to come. Your child, I guarantee, will always remember his first concert.

Technically, my first was Sonny and Cher, Shady Grove Theater, 1972"a fundraiser for a local not-for-profit. Although I was only six, I vividly remember feeling mildly embarrassed watching a half-dressed Cher belt out "Half-Breed" from the revolving stage; going was my mom's idea, not mine.

What I've always counted as my official first show came nearly six years later. The world was in love with disco -- and I was in love with Andy Gibb. When word got out on our local Top 40 station that the cutest Gibb brother would be playing Merriweather Post Pavilion in the summer of 1978, I was determined to go. Maybe he'd even wear the same white silk jacket -- unbuttoned to the wais t-- he'd sported on the cover of the previous month's Tiger Beat. I was twelve now and fully ready to handle a scantily clad idol. Driving out to the concert with my patient mom and two younger sisters, "Love" wasn't the only thing "Thicker Than Water"; so was my anticipation.

Talk about letdown. Our lawn seats were buggy, it was miserably hot, and worst of all, the other concertgoers were crazed. I was there to fully enjoy every soulful second of "I Just Want to Be Your Everything." They were there to scream, "I love you, Andy" at the top of their lungs for the whole hour and a half. I was heartbroken; I couldn't see or hear a thing.

It was certainly an experience, just not a very good one. Kids, remember, you want the first time to be special -- don't waste it on Kei$ha or Justin Beiber. The super-pop stuff will only date and disappoint you years down the road.

I think I've finally found the perfect first concert for my thirteen-year-old son. This week he and I are going on a mother-son double date to take in Ben Folds at the Overture Center. We are both huge fans -- my interest dates back to the days when Ben had a numeral after his name; his from the Over the Hedge soundtrack. I can't imagine a better first experience than "Rockin' the Suburbs" in comfortable seats in a temperature-controlled environment. And I assume the rabid screaming will be minimal, even if Ben unbuttons a few -- girls that like nerdy guys don't act like groupies, right?

And when my son outgrows the concert t-shirt I'm sure to spring for? Well, I can always look into having it bronzed.

What was your first concert experience? Is it something you want to try to replicate for your child?

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