Last weekend, we took the boys to the NAC's Funfair, a free concert where the orchestra plays Christmas songs. I considered it a success, Dave considered it a disaster.
We arrived 15 minutes before the concert was due to start. There weren't any seats left so we had to stand. We found a spot relatively near the exit with a clear view of the stage. Alex asked to climb on his grandfather's shoulders and Nathan asked to climb up on mine. Alex stayed up for the first few songs while Nathan wanted down after the first few minutes.
Nathan spent most of the concert sitting on the floor behind the chairs, playing with the toys he'd brought. Alex paid close attention when the music was playing but got bored and restless when they were talking. He tried to get us to play with him, swinging him around or letting him play with our phones or climbing on top of shoulders only to wriggle and slide down. I said no to the roughhousing play and no to playing with the phones. I gave him the toys he'd brought to fidget with.
At the end of the concert, Alex wanted to ride the elevator and play with the pay phone. There wasn't a phone, but he did get to go up to the balcony level at the NAC and back down again.
Those are the facts. What makes it a success or failure depended entirely on our respective expectations.
I didn't expect there to be seats available when we arrived. I actually thought it would be preferable to be able to make a quick and discreet exit in case of meltdowns, so I would have chosen to be standing near the doors anyway. Plus it gave the boys more room to wiggle or sit or lay down without disturbing anyone.
I didn't expect them to sit quietly and listen to the music. I knew they'd need distractions, which is why I brought the toys. Watching the orchestra isn't necessary, so I didn't object when Nathan wanted to sit on the floor. I knew he'd come up if something caught his attention.
I expected Alex to try and push the boundaries, so I set clear ones. No screens, no wandering and no roughhousing.
To me, it was a success because we were able to stay through the entire concert and there were no meltdowns. To Dave, it was a disaster because our children were not behaving like the other children there, which he finds disrespectful to the performers and audience. It's true, the boys were mildly disruptive, although not to a point where I would consider it necessary to abort.
It goes to show how difficult these kind of judgment calls can be. We're both right in terms of our respective point of views. The case can be argued either way.