Where do I begin? Should I write a disclaimer stating that what I am about to say/ask is in NO WAY intended to offend or “blame” anyone or any culture? Well, it is not meant to offend, and if it does then I am assuming you are one of the people I am writing about and I would love to have your feedback so we can find a solution to this problem.
The problem is lack of respect. Let me paint the picture for you. I have 2 boys who go to a private school in town. They have been rehearsing and preparing for an end of the year show since April. The boys were so excited about the show, that we cancelled our plans to attend a Dohw dinner cruise to attend the show at the school. The first show, was a kindergarten (KG2) graduation. The children sang and then there was the handing out of the “diplomas”. The show started 30 minutes late because most of the parents did not bother to show up until 30 minutes after the designated start time. Then after the show started, there was a mad rush of parents, siblings and who knows who else to the front of the auditorium to take photos and wave at the kids on stage. This rush of people became unruly (yes, at a kindergarten graduation) and chairs were knocked over, the stage curtains were being used as hiding places for parents to duck away from having to go back to their seats, and one parent (that I witnessed) was so adamant that she stand in the front row (where she was not seated to begin with) so she could get a picture of her “precious” child that she almost started a fight with the poor school employee trying to get her to move! It was absolutely ridiculous! The noise was so deafening that even though my family and I were in the third row, we could not hear the children singing or hear their names being called to receive their certificates. It was insane!
The following week, was the end of year presentation for the rest of the primary school and we learned from the previous week that we needed to sit in the front row. This show was no different. It was only worse because there were more people there! This show started 45 minutes late and the crowd was so loud that there was really no use in being there as you couldn’t hear anything anyway.
Tell, me, what can you do? This school is attended by Americans, Brits, Emiratis, Germans, Lebanese, and many other nationalities. If it were America, the music teacher would have just been able to tell every one to be quiet and it would have happened. Here, you can’t do things like that. You tell the wrong person to be quiet and the next thing you know, you can’t get anything done in business because your “status” has been affected. Don’t tell me that doesn’t happen, because I know it does. I know about “wasta”……
It really pisses me off and hurts me to know that our kids (not just mine) worked so hard preparing for that night and they were so excited to be able to show us what they had learned but that the crowd was so fucking disrespectful that no one could enjoy the show at all. How can we fix this? What can be done? Right now, my solution is to not allow my children to participate in next year’s presentation. It is useless anyway because we couldn’t hear or enjoy it.
The school principal is just at his/her wits end trying to figure out how to improve these gatherings and I am at a loss as to how to help. (And before you start bitching that it is not my problem/place, it is because I was asked to consult on this matter). Before I came here, I planned conferences for city/government departments. They were attended by up to 300 people at a time and I NEVER had to deal with trying to keep them quiet and to try and have them respect their fellow conference goers by not trampling the stage when the presenter came out. This behavior coming from full grown adults is absolutely astonishing to me.
I am thinking that what we need to do is try and pool the more influential parents together for support and ask for them to help in this matter. I feel like it is the only way to protect ourselves when we unintentionally offend “Sheikh so and so’s” daughter or “diplomat who’s it’s” son when we ask him or her to be quiet and return to their seat. Would making banners that say “Please no talking” help? Do we need to have “hall monitors” walking the crowd shushing everyone (who is going to have the cahonies to do that really? Hmm, maybe I could do it wearing an Abaya with a full Sheila???)? Do we need to segregate the nannies and children out of the theatre and put them into a room with “Barney” videos to keep them entertained? What do we do?
And how do we get these people to show up on time? Do we send out a note saying if Johnny is not in the waiting area by quarter to seven, we will start the show without him and he will not be allowed on stage during the performance? What do you do? We sent a note home asking parents to have their children at the school by a certain time and still we had parents and children showing up 30 minutes late. Are some people just too good for “father time”? How do you correct this? Children start to get antsy when you make them wait too long. The crowd just got worse as time went by and by the time the darn show started, it was out of control. What do you do?
I am at a complete loss. I would really appreciate your input. Again, I am not meaning to offend ANYONE and am not pointing the blame at ANY CULTURE OR GROUP. I have used generalizations to try and describe my concerns and am not meaning to pin point certain groups (well, except Philippino nannies, maybe – but MY GOD! Those women can really cause a ruckus!)