When my husband and I first had our son, we didn’t realize that becoming parents meant that we would need to now pay $40 in order to go anywhere without our son. Forty dollars is the average cost of an evening of babysitting. Take a fun thing you’re doing this weekend: A movie! A concert! Dinner at a restaurant with friends! Now slap $40 onto the cost of that event. Still wanna go?
Will this night out be worth the effort of contacting a babysitter, finding out she’s busy, contacting another babysitter, finding out he’s busy, contacting a complete stranger through the internet who’s magically free, verifying all of her references, feeling relieved when they check out, still putting one of those secret teddy bear camera things in your Amazon cart just in case, getting dressed up, heading out late because you spent an hour showing the babysitter how to work your entire house including light switches, and trying to squeeze the same amount of carefree, light fun you used to have when you were childfree into a tight three-hour window, coming home sooner than you want to, and paying $40 for the privilege? All of which is why frozen pizza and Netflix have become the go-to date night options in my house.
We hadn’t gone out in a while, so when my husband discovered that there was going to be a free classical concert held on a restaurant patio early enough in the evening that we could bring our toddler with, I couldn’t say no. My opinion of classical music is the same as my opinions of PBS Newhour and quinoa – I understand that they’re beautiful and important, but I don’t care about them at all. But a night out at a restaurant with my husband sounded lovely, and if classical music and my toddler needed to be there too, so be it.
Now, it’s odd to have a classical music concert on a restaurant patio. The concert was held by Classical Revolution Cleveland, a “group of classically-trained musicians who love sharing music with Cleveland in unusual and non-traditional formats.” It’s a group of people who want to bring classical music straight to the people, break down the highfalutin walls around this art form, and allow haters, such as myself, to connect with classical music in a new way.
The concert was scheduled to occur on the patio of Toast Cleveland Wine Bar but, since we are in the middle of NE Ohio monsoon season, lakefront rain moved the show inside. When we arrived, a cellist and a violinist sat in a center dining room, perched on a vintage wooden window seat, tuning their instruments. We chose a table directly in front of the musicians so as to give our son the maximum cultural experience and also so I could make “I’m sorry” eye contact with the performers if/when my toddler decided to start screaming along with the music.
At first, my toddler just sat on my lap, silently staring at the women and their instruments. Erica Snowden played cello and Classical Revolution Cleveland director Ariel Karaś played violin. My husband is a classically trained musician — while I can’t tell if I’m ever singing on-key — but we both agreed that the playing was lovely. We sat in this cozy space, rain softly pelting the wavy glass windows, and listened to the music. We ordered appetizers and enjoyed them while rich, warm music cascaded over us. The program moved from Bach to Joplin and our toddler got up and started dancing, jig-hopping from foot to foot and charming everyone in the room. He then decided that he was so charming he should share it with the entire restaurant so he began a campaign of standing directly in the way of the busser, visiting other tables and saying “Hi!” regardless of whether they were feeling social or not, and repeatedly attempting to breach the kitchen and figure out what the hell was going on in there.
We left before the second set because the witching hour was upon us and our son had morphed from a quiet child who appreciates classical music on a deep level to a shrieking boy who was not going to be happy unless he was either eating food off the plate of a stranger or darting out of the restaurant’s front door as someone else came in. I wrangled my son while I paid the bill, performing that delicate balancing act all parents know well where you’re trying to appear like a kind, giving mother while also holding your increasingly rebellious toddler with a death grip. ”Mommy no hold! Mommy more music! Mommy let go! MOMMY LET GO!” he howled at me while I thanked the musicians and made our exit. He did escape from me once and came within inches of touching the cello before my husband was able to swoop in and, while congratulating our son for being interested in the instrument, telling him that we do not touch things that we do not own that cost thousands of dollars.
Will my son remember this evening and reveal one day that it was his inspiration for becoming a professional cellist? Maybe. But next time I’m going to go ahead, spend that $40, and keep the culture all to myself.