What I Learned at Lollapalooza

Yesterday, I took Tim to his first concert.

I chose Day Three of Lollapalooza for a few reasons:

  1. It’s outdoors
  2. It has lots of different things to do other than watch bands, and lots of space to do them in
  3. The headliner was a band we both wanted to see
I was fearful, I admit it, and super-mega-hyper vigilant in my planning of the event.  Tim has an aversion to loud noises and big crowds, and I was purposefully taking him into a situation that had both.  It didn’t sound super logical.  But we did a lot of prep.  We made a plan to see only six acts in the 11 hours of the festival.  That gave us a lot of downtime to sit in the shade and explore other things.  We brought earplugs in case the noise was too much.  We talked a lot in the weeks before hand about the noise level and how many people would be there, so Tim wasn’t going in cold.  We created three rules that Tim memorized before we got there:
  1. Tim must stay with Mom at all times
  2. We aren’t in a hurry, so no need to get frantic. We take our time from place to place
  3. If Tim says he needs to leave, we leave, no questions asked
We took the train down to the city rather than have to deal with driving in.  On the way, I got a surprise text from Officer Julie, the most amazing CIT officer in the City of Chicago as well as the greatest friend a gal can have.  She picked Tim and me up at the train station and gave us an escort right to the front gates of Lollapalooza.

Tim felt like royalty.

We explored the grounds and had something to eat before we camped out at our first venue for the day.  Guards was the band, and after an initial shock at exactly HOW loud it would be, Tim bounced and bopped and danced along with the crowd when he felt like it, and sat down when he felt like it.

We watched two bands, then took another stroll, had some ice cream, and strolled back to the main stage (the one behind us in the picture above), and camped out on the lawn-covered hill on the right to see Tegan & Sara.   Officer Julie checked in by text a few times to be sure we didn’t need an escort back to the train, but Tim had been doing fine. Then, from our venue, Tim could see the masses stream in.  Yeah, it looked like this:

Lollapalooza 2013
He turned to me and said, “That’s….a lot of people.  I gotta go.”  So we did.  We walked other parts of the park.  We had some dinner.  And he wanted to go up to the alternate main stage to wait for Vampire Weekend to play.  I was a bit panicked because he wanted to go fairly close to the stage, and I knew the crowds would rush when the band started.  And they did.  From where we were, it looked like this:
2013 Crowd
And I was concerned he would freak out and we wouldn’t be able to get out.  Hell – I was freaking out. Drunk 20-somethings kept stepping on my feet.  I asked one drunk idiot to please not stomp on my feet again and I got a 3 minute swear-a-thon from him.  But Tim was in heaven.  He jumped up and down, clapped, sang along, and danced.  It was if the crowd didn’t exist.  After Vampire Weekend, we walked the entire length of the park to the headliner stage to see one of my all-time favorite bands, The Cure.  We found a spot not nearly as crowded, and again, he danced and sang the entire two hours.  At the end of the night, he and I walked hand-in-hand back to the train station so as not to get separated.  We stood in a massive jam at the train station waiting for the train, and again, he was fine.  He even shared gum with a young lady who asked if he had any to share.

As I lie in bed last night, exhausted, I realized I’d learned something about our new normal with Tim, since he’s been home from residential, and since he’s been stable.  First, Tim is no longer a child.  He really is a young man who acts like a  young man and can have some responsibilities like any young man should be able to have.  Second, Tim is able to process and manage experiences when he knows what to expect, and he wants to try them badly enough.  Third, Tim is super cool to hang out with.  I highly suggest taking Tim to a festival.  He’s kind, courteous, affectionate, and concerned for your well-being.  Plus, he’s kinda cute.

I will always be vigilant when it comes to Tim’s stability.  I guess I can do away with the hyper vigilant, however.  I need to let him grow up.  I’ll try.


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