Do you hear the people cringe? 

Sometimes something so awful will happen that I’ll need several days to process it. By process, I mean write about. That’s really how this blog started, and for the most part, that’s its function — to help me process all this parenting shit.

On Sunday, on the last day of winter break, I took the boys and my oldest girl to see Les Mis. On Broadway. I could have saved all the money and bought myself one of those Canada Goose coats that just about everyone in New York seems to be wearing, but which I cannot justify. I can, however, justify dropping a wad of cash on my children in the name of musical theater.

Never again.

My boys were grumbly from the start, especially a certain 11 year old. I told them that there are fewer days more depressing than the last day of vacation. Why not get out of the house and spend that day on Broadway, I said. I kept my hands firmly planted in my pockets, to avoid using jazz hands. I do that whenever I say “on Broadway.” (Shoot me.)

We could also spend it watching football, he said.

Fuck off, I said.

Ok, not really. But I wanted to.

I bribed them with sushi. I also told them that Les Mis has a few cool fight scenes and some singing hookers. Yes, I did. I am not proud. It was not my finest hour. Not by a long shot. But I am beginning to wonder if there are any fine hours in parenting.

He grumbled through sushi. Mumbled about his fantasy team. His older brother seemed game, though, as did my nine year old girl. (GOD BLESS HER COTTON SOCKS.)

We showed up at the theater and took our very good seats. I was jittery with excitement. I couldn’t show them though because if they saw it, if they smelled my eagerness, this whole thing was over. I played it cool, or at last as cool as someone who does jazz hands can muster.  

 Five minutes in he turns to me and yells, “WHEN IS INTERMISSION?”

I shut him up. I promise him it will get better, because I know that it will. I know every bloody word in this show.

Ten minutes in he yells, this time even louder, “YOU NEVER SAID THIS WOULD BE ALL SINGING. THIS STINKS. THIS IS WORSE THAN PHANTOM.”

By now, people are looking. They’re wondering how these spoiled effing brats got to see both Phantom and Les  Mis. On Broadway. Christmas week. They’re wondering what all their friends will say, back in Iowa. We saw Les Mis and these spoiled New York brats were there too, whining the whole time. 

At some point, he started up with me again. Apparently the fight scene was lame. So lame he had to announce it to everyone around us.

“TAKE A NAP!” I hissed. Frankly, I had given up on him seeing the show, not to mention getting anything from it. I just wanted to avoid embarassment. Or at least, further embarassment. I saw him trying to read the playbill, so he could figure out when intermission was. His brother got in on it too. I jabbed them when the hookers came on, hoping this would at least get them to sit still. Not so. Those ladies are a lot less lovely than even I remember.

When intermission finally came they turned to me. So did all the Iowans. I just shrugged.

“This sucks,” said his brother.


“You never said it was all singing.”


“We’re missing football for this.” At this point I think the Iowans almost fainted. I could hear them thinking to themselves, “ALL WE HAVE IN IOWA IS FOOTBALL! WE COULD NOT WAIT TO GET OUT! DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?”

“We’re going.”

“You’re what?” I felt my eyes begin to burn.

They huddled, searching their phones for the nearest Starbucks. Before I knew what was happening they were gone. The nine year old and I just looked at each other. I could not make eye contact with the Iowans.

Luckily, in Les Mis, all the truly sad crap happens in Act 2. I could hide in my tears for all the bodies that fell at the glorious barricade. I could have a good, solid weep when Jean Valjean goes to meet his maker, holding the hands of Fantine and Eponine. Nobody had to know I was weeping for those damn boys. Not to mention my Canada Goose jacket.

They were waiting for me in the lobby. They looked very guilty. As you may expect, they spend a lot of time looking very guilty, so it had little effect one me. By little I mean NONE.

We walked to the subway in silence. I kept trying to lose them in Times Square but it was not my lucky day. Once we were on the train, I fell apart.

If there’s one thing my boys apparently hate more than historical musical theater, it’s when their mother cries in public. I took the stage and made my biggest scene yet. Mama Rose had NOTHING on me. It was my turn now.

I told them that I sit through endless games for them, not just the ones they play in, but the ones they want me to watch on TV. I told them a good friend once told me I could either beat them or join them, so I chose to join them. Hell, I even ordered the NY Post for them. (Do you know hard it was for me to bring that shit into my house?) I told them that as their mom it was my job to meet them where they were, and that they didn’t owe me anything. They didn’t need to come to the theater because they owed it to me. I was bringing them to show them how much I loved them. That’s what you do. When you love something, you share it with the people that you love. (By now I was REALLY crying, snot and all.) I didn’t need them to like it (lie); I just needed them to let it wash over them. It was three hours for heaven’s sake.

“Three hours on a Sunday. In football season.”

I almost smacked him.

“And they pulled Peyton Manning in! Last minute!”

I almost smacked the other one.

Hell, I don’t know if they learned anything, but I certainly did. Next year, I’ll be buying the damn coat.


Filed under Broadway, children, parenting, theater

20 responses to “Do you hear the people cringe? 

  1. Anonymous

    Fantastic writing lea – thanks for sharing. makes me feel better at my epic blow up last night AND this morning (i.e., Act I and Act II) at the whole family for being such spoiled NY brats/shits. XO

  2. Adina Shoulson

    A gem…perhaps a title story for your collection? Then you will be thanking them.

  3. David Tesler

    I’m with your kids – Les Mis sucked. Almost as much complaining as Rent

    David Tesler | 914.500.8512 |

  4. jesshaller

    Before reading this I really liked your kids…

  5. Anat Katz

    Hmmm… I’ve NEVER experienced anything like this.


    Personally I’d get a great pair of shoes.

  6. Tina

    Thanks to you and your honesty I have not killed my first born (yet).

  7. Ryan

    Why didn’t you take them to Matilda or a Disney musical?!? Les Miz is not for kids.

  8. Chad

    As an avid NFL fan, and as someone who watched football on the last day, I judge the boys as GUILTY. Get over it and try to get some culture in your brains… Watch the playoffs next weekend, FCOL.

  9. Rebecca Wolf

    One of my favorite posts.

    This is exactly how Jake would react if I bought him tickets to a show during football season. The difference is, he does not have a partner in crime since the rest of us are die hard theater fans. He would have had to sulk through the show.

    We were just debating whether to get him a ticket to Fiddler when we go in April. I feel obligated to expose him to theater and hopefully one day he will grow to appreciate it.

    Now I am second-guessing that decision.

  10. Jan Simon

    I am having serious withdrawal symptoms from not seeing any new posts from you! It’s been so long . The kids must be of college age by now. (just kidding). Love your blog! It is the highlight of my day when I read your posts!

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