The first rule of bringing Junior and Baby to the summer concert is to recognize the concert is no longer about you.
Forget what flight attendants tell you about taking care of yourself before taking care of those around you. Oh, sweet pea, no, no, NO! The first rule of order is to take care of baby. This concert isn't for you. It's about them—that is, it is about the kids.
But that doesn't mean you cannot enjoy the concert. Just follow three simple rules.
You already know the first drill, but let us remind you: lots of water, juice boxes, sunscreen. Simple, right? Well, summer concerts are those rules to the tenth power. Like Wiggles on steroids, kids under 12 will be overstimulated by the concerts—by the sounds, the throbbing energy of the crowd, the extra doses of Vitamin D. (Side note: If you're attending summertime concerts with your teenagers, give yourself a head examination. What are you thinking? Are you nuts?! Set those kids free to play "Lord of the Flies" on their own.)
Have comfortable seats, and bring distractions—toys and crayons. Because really, even if Mick Jagger is strutting on stage, there's no guarantee your child will find this remotely interesting or recognize the moment's cultural importance. This may be your favorite band, but to your child's non-formed brain, it is just noise and background, occasionally providing a backbeat for some adorably awkward dance moves.
Second—and most important—for long-term strategic survival planning, make immediate friends with your blanket neighbors. As soon as you set down your blanket, smile to your left and to your right. Make some light conversation. Are you excited for John Mayer? He really rocks. Oh, yes, such a lovely evening.
These alliances can be valuable later, or at least will save you the scorn, slings and arrows when Junior throws a 120-decibel tantrum. If your neighbors start with the assumption you care about your surroundings, it can buy a few minutes of good will.
Finally, establish boundaries. Learn from Switzerland. While you can be friendly with your neighbors, don't let your naked-but-diapered child wander outside these boundaries. While you think your child is adorable, he's about as adorable and welcome as a fart. Your neighbor's smile? Actually a polite grimace.
These are the Source's three favorite summertime concerts for the wee ones.
MUNCH AND MUSIC—There is not yet a musical lineup for this summer series, but really, this isn't about the music, is it? It could be the Beatles or the Wiggles, for all we care. Great food (from local eateries and food trucks) and great music come together like peanut butter and jelly at this weekly concert series. Local and nationally touring bands come to Drake Park for summertime evenings. Thursdays, July 11- Aug. 15, free.
SISTERS FOLK FESTIVAL—From the Village Green Park to the back lawn of Sisters Art Works to restaurants and cafés across this quaint quilt-loving town, every nook and cranny is converted into a venue for the three-day Sisters Folk Fest. Don't let the name fool you, though: The festival offers much more than folk, bringing all genres, from soul to funk to country. This year's lineup includes Jon Cleary & the Philthy Phew, Ryan Montbleau Band, John Fullbright, Cheryl Wheeler, Lake Street Drive, Hurray for the Riff Raff, California Honeydrops, Joshua James, The White Buffalo, Whitehorse, Shinyribs, Amy Speace, John Craigie, Nathaniel Talbot Quartet, Amber Rubarth, Rj Cowdery, Rick Bartow & the Backseat Drivers—or, said more succinctly, Americana in all its incarnations. The 2012 festival sold out in pre-sale for the first time in the festival's 15-year history! Sept. 6-8, Sisters.
OREGON ZOO SERIES—Every weekend from the end of June through October, the Oregon Zoo hosts performances by renowned acts. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the series features the easy-listening The Doobie Brothers, the bouncy reggae of Ziggy Marley, and crowd-pleaser Lyle Lovett. Shows are all-ages and perfect for packing a picnic, bringing some lawn chairs, gathering the family, and enjoying a relaxing evening in the outdoors. The Oregon Zoo was the first in the nation to present outdoor shows, and has served as a model for similar institutions across the country. Saturdays and Sunday, June 22 through Sept. 6, Oregon Zoo, Portland.