Last year, when I was the parent of one child, I got tickets to the Cambridge Folk Festival. The plan had been to go en famille, but my husband was out of town. I considered throwing in the towel on the whole damn weekend. I booked a babysitter, then cancelled the babysitter, then considered ringing the babysitter and begging her to come after all, then finally took a deep breath, packed my picnic blanket, hauled my kid to the festival and hoped for the best.
I was so amped up when I got home that I sent the following email to a friend:
HE WAS SUCH A CHAMP I AM SO PROUD OF HIM IT WAS AMAZING.I saw KT Tunstall and Glen Hansard, who I wanted to see the most in the whole festival, and in between sets he said ‘more music! Music, mummy!’You know how when you first fall in love, and it just seems like an utter miracle? That this person exists, and they’ve consented to hang out with you? Having kids is, at its best, 1000x better than that. Theo was sitting on my lap, clapping at the end of every song and saying ‘another song?’ and I felt like my heart was going to burst.We didn’t get home until after 10, which we’ve never even attempted before. He negotiated a couple extra stories, which seemed ridiculous because it was 10:20 by that point (inhaler, tooth brushing, offering him the potty, etc.) but then he jumped off my lap and marched to bed as agreed and I haven’t heard a peep. I am just so proud of him. He held it together the entire time we were there, the entire way out (it was a little walk) and the journey home, and then he was almost exclusively perfectly behaved once we got home.
We went to the festival Friday-Sunday last year, and while nothing was quite as magical as that first day, I booked our family tickets as soon as they became available this year, ready for Round 2.
So naturally Theo didn’t give a shit about the festival this year. He loved the ice cream van, and he loved the trampoline in the children’s area, but the actual music he could take or leave.
This year, though, the festival was very good for me. Ian took Friday off work, and so I was able to cycle over to see the She Shanties on Friday – an all-female sea shanty group. I love sea shanties (really. I love them.) so I made a special trip and stood surrounded by old people and teenagers, yet all by myself. The music was lovely. Later that night, I went back and met up with friends for the Indigo Girls. I sang Galileo and Closer to Fine and the Wood Song. I felt like a person with a life.
We hauled our kids to the festival all four days, too; it wasn’t just me sneaking out for an hour at a time. Theo was indifferent to the music but I loved being there. More than that, it was significant that there was an ambitious thing we wanted to do – go to a music festival – and we had done it, with minimal drama. The girls were great, the weather was marginal, Theo was disinterested, but I had a great time, and I felt like I’d taken a significant step forward as a parent of three children.