I took our daughter and her friend to see Harry Styles last weekend at Madison Square Garden in New York, and the trip was a top five favorite parenting experience. We drove under crisp October skies on highways lined with forests of pumpkin orange and saffron yellow. Leaves fluttered against blue sky as 18-wheeler winds buffeted the trees, the light was golden, and I felt like could pull over anywhere along our trip through Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey to go apple picking.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the weekend and what was so special about it, and the thing that stands out the most is that, aside from my bonus time with my girlfriend in NJ who let us use her driveway, which meant I got to hug her and see her house and meet her husband and eat amazing fresh Jersey everything bagels, which I’m still thinking about and craving, the thing that stands out besides that time is that the whole point of the weekend was for the girls. My attention was solely on them and doing whatever they wanted for three whole days. And that was really fun. We could stop whenever and wherever they wanted to eat; we could fill the time we had however they wanted to fill it. I had no competing objectives. Whatever they wanted to do, I would help them do it. You want to get Harry merch? Yup, let’s get a snack in you and go stand in line. You hungry for lunch? Cool, Erica told me about a sushi place nearby. You want to walk to Times Square? Get Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? Walk to the Target on W 34th to look for sunglasses for your costume? Sure, yep, we can do all of those things.
The girls dressed in their costumes (tutus, fairy wings, and haloes over the homecoming dresses they didn’t wear to homecoming since they went to the concert instead) and wanted to take photos for their friends, so we found a wall outside our hotel that was covered in greenery and we used that for a backdrop. I shot photos for them, walked around with them, carried their vaccine cards, watched their stuff while they wandered around the arena before the show, took more photos for them inside the arena, and then relished every second of the show where I could hear them dying and going to heaven with every note played, every word sung, every move danced. As part of the encore, he played the song they most wanted him to play, a song they didn’t really truly expect they’d get to experience, a never-released song he hasn’t played on this tour, and which he hasn’t played live in three years. They screamed and videoed and were awestruck and could not believe their luck.
On the 8 hour drive home, they were both quiet with their heads against the car windows. They relived the experience with their airpods in, watching the videos, listening to albums, combing through the 100+ photos I had airdropped to them. After we returned home, the friend’s Grandma emailed to tell me she asked her granddaughter if it had been everything she hoped for. She told her grandma, it was everything and even more.