Maybe next time James

This column first appeared in a newspaper in August, 2003.

Sometime this evening, James Taylor will take the stage in Kansas City and thousands of people who think “rap” is something you do with presents will grab their walkers, jump to their feet and yell the same thing.

“What happened to his hair?”

My wife and I were supposed to be among those thousands of people, but instead newsroom staffer Scott Meeker and his wife Brett, will be sitting in our seats.

We had to sell our tickets to the Meekers because tomorrow is our 5-year-old daughter Emma’s first day of kindergarten-something we didn’t realize three months ago when we spent roughly 15 hours on the phone ordering concert tickets through some sort of “Ticketron, Mastertix, Tix R’ Us” service.

Ordering concert tickets over the phone is no fun.

“Welcome to Ticketron, Mastertix, Tix R’ Us. If you are using a touch-tone phone there will be $99 service charge. If you agree to the charge please press #1. If you are using a rotary phone WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH YOU? THIS IS 2003. WHO USES A ROTARY PHONE ANYMORE? WHAT ARE YOU SOME SORT OF JAMES TAYLOR FAN?”

The people at ticket-ordering places tend to be a little surly.

Call us crazy parents but we didn’t feel like taking off to Kansas City this weekend and getting home at 1 a.m. on the day Emma starts kindergarten. My wife in particular has determined that Emma’s first day of kindergarten will be a special day at or house.

My wife has already spent countless hours labeling, coloring and decorating all of Emma’s school supplies. She decorated Emma’s pencil box, the mat Emma is supposed to sleep on, her glue bottles, her scissors and every individual crayon.

My role in all of this decorating has been mainly to hang around and make supportive comments like “Hey, what’s with all the school supplies?”

Emma’s role in all of the school preparation has been to question whether she actually needs to go to kindergarten. It’s not that Emma is against public education, it’s just that she has some concerns.

Her concerns, in no particular order, are as follows:

Can I bring my bear Sammy for nap time?

Will I have to take a nap even if I’m not tired?

Will Molly, Beth, Jazmyne, Ashleigh, Hadley and Sabrina all be in my class?

If Daddy takes me to school will he at least try and comb his hair?

I don’t remember much about my first day of kindergarten, but I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t make that big a deal about the event.

I have six brothers and sisters so each year on the first day of the new school year, my mom would walk into our living room where we were all gathered and she would point her finger at some of us and say “You, you and you go to school. The rest of you stay here.”

Mom was kind of busy.

So, tonight, instead of sitting with a bunch of former hipsters trying to remember the words to James Taylor songs (“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve seen sunny days I thought would never end but I…something…something…something…can’t believe I’m not still married to Carly Simon”) my wife and I will lay out all of Emma’s new school supplies and her new “first day of school” clothes and then we’ll tuck Emma into bed.

Then we’ll go downstairs and maybe we’ll pop in a James Taylor CD and sit back and think about how our little girl is not so much a little girl anymore.

And then, as James Taylor sings “Smiling Face” we’ll both sigh and think the same thing.

“Seriously, what happened to his hair?”