My 8-year-old daughter is a diehard Britney Spears fan, and she has the CDs, Barbie doll, biographical books and T-shirt to prove it.
Many times I have walked into her bedroom to find her belting out the words to one of Britney's songs. That is why, being the good mother that I am, I broke down and purchased tickets to the recent Britney Spears concert at Sandstone Amphitheatre near Bonner Springs.
Never in my life did I dream that I would take a child this young to a concert, but that's exactly what I did.
I found another mother daring enough to attend the concert with me. We loaded her mini-van to its capacity with excited young girls and headed off to Sandstone in the heat of the afternoon. Dark clouds were floating overhead as we headed east on I-70, but we knew they wouldn't dare send a drop of rain our way. We had been planning this night out for months, and nothing was going to ruin it.
As we pulled into the parking lot, we marveled at the crowd already waiting in line. The gates weren't set to open for another 10 minutes, yet the line was already out in the parking lot and winding around the median. Blankets in hand, we rushed to the end of the line, anxious to be admitted so we could land a good spot on the lawn.
As we neared the gate a slight glitch was thrown our way. My daughter had dropped her ticket! Despite our assurance that her ticket really did exist, the guard at the gate wouldn't let us in. My daughter's eyes began to well with tears as we scoured the ground looking for her ticket.
Fortunately for us, a Good Samaritan took pity and gave us her extra ticket. With smiles on our faces we thanked her and were finally admitted through the gate. (I hope whoever found my daughter's ticket enjoyed the show!)
Once inside, we scrambled for the perfect spot and spread our blankets out, made a quick trip to the concession stand and then settled in to wait for the fun to begin. By then, the concert was still an hour and a half away.
We watched as more and more people arrived, desperately looking for a spot to sit. With little or no regard for people like us already settled in place, late-comers began rudely plopping down on the grass where no space existed. It was worse than a flashing blue-light special at Kmart during the Christmas-time rush.
Just as I was about to lose patience with the people seated behind me, the emcee took the stage. Stryke 5 and Makaila, two relatively new groups, performed several songs. Their music was all right, but the crowd was anxious for Britney to appear and began to chant her name over and over.
Shortly after 9 p.m. the stage grew dark and a video of Britney began. Then there was a brilliant flash of light, and the real Britney took center stage. The crowd rose to its feet, cheering, and remained standing for the hour-long concert.
Throughout the concert, Britney sang, danced, skipped and hopped across the stage and up an impressive set of stairs. We were far enough away that we had to watch the big-screen TVs to catch a glimpse of her. (I tried watching her through the binoculars but she moved around too fast for me to keep up with her.)
She made several costume changes and appeared to be working up quite a sweat in the Kansas humidity. There was constant activity on-stage to keep the crowd entertained.
If you're the least bit familiar with Britney's music, you may have noticed that all of her songs seem to sound the same. Even so, she did a remarkable job delivering them. And, I must admit, she sounded better in person than she does on her CDs.
I don't know whether I should attribute it to the concert atmosphere, but I found myself caught up in the moment, swaying to the music, while I held my daughter up in my arms so she could see above the crowd.
I saw a wide variety of fans. The average age seemed to be anywhere from 5 to 12, and most youngsters were accompanied by parents or grandparents. I was surprised to see quite a few older teen-agers who were getting into the music.
Watching how the crowd became entranced once Britney took the stage, I came to the conclusion that they all got what they came for and would go home happy.
I'm getting too old to appreciate the concert scene and don't anticipate attending another one anytime soon. However, I have to admit that this concert was worth attending. My daughter is growing up quickly, right before my eyes. Watching the joy on her face as she sang along with Britney Spears is a wonderful memory that I'll cherish forever.
I'm sure she'll outgrow Britney before long and move on to bigger and better things. But I'll always remember her as the sweet, little girl who danced and sang the night away without a care in the world.
It was a memorable evening, and my daughter has the T-shirt to prove it.