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KISSing your kids

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Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

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This weekend marked milestones in my sons' young lives -- and in the life of any KISS fan. The boys attended their first KISS concerts. Now, the uninitiated might question whether taking children to a loud, pyrotechnic-filled spectacle is a good idea at all. But when you're a die-hard, devoted fan of the hottest band in the land, and also a parent, it's only natural to reach a point where you'll want to introduce your children to KISS.

At ages two and four, my boys are well aware of their mother's passion for KISS. They've never known a world in which KISS did not exist. And, for our children, KISS is everywhere -- KISS songs rock our car when I'm driving to them to play group each week. KISS magnets hold their artwork up on our refrigerator. KISS's makeup faces are floating on rubber ducks when they take their baths. KISS is emblazoned on their clothes, posted on their bedroom walls, and carried in their hearts.

Ever since the beginning of the tour, as Mom and Dad have jaunted off to various cities throughout the Alive 35 tour, our boys have asked when they could attend their first KISS concert. With two back-to-back Midwest KISS shows over the past weekend, it seemed the perfect time to fully initiate them into KISS World.



Preparing to take two preschoolers to a KISS show isn't as difficult as you might think, though I gained a little experience along the way too. Here are a few tips:

  •  Prepare them visually
    Watch a concert or two with the kids at home in the weeks leading up to the show. While some might argue that this spoils the surprise, it doesn't -- there's an enormous difference in experiencing a live show firsthand versus seeing it on television. (And if that were truly the case, no one would attend a live show, right?)  If you're a KISS parent, your kids are likely already familiar with many of the songs anyway, so they won't be bored watching the concert with you. Kids also tend to view KISS as larger-than-life superheroes. Helping kids understand that Paul and Gene are going to fly during the show, and that Gene is going to spit fire and blood, but neither of these things will actually hurt him, goes a long way toward ensuring that they won't be scared by these things later.

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    Protect their ears
    Yes, the show is loud. Don't be so much of a purist that you insist on having pure, 120-decibel KISS blasting into your child's head. There are many audio-reducing headsets that will protect their ears and still allow them to fully enjoy the show. Note that very young children will likely protest at wearing earplugs -- headsets are a better bet.

  • Don't be disappointed if they don't like it
    As parents, of course we want our children to share our passion for the things we love, and even if your children are completely gung-ho to go to the show, they may break down if it's not quite what they envisioned it to be. It's okay. This night is about them, not you. Make them as comfortable as they'd like to be.

    Going into the show, I fully expected my 4-year-old to love the show start to finish, and my 2-year-old to get scared at times. Instead, my little guy was pumping his fists during "Deuce" while my 4-year-old buried his head in my shoulder. He came around a couple of songs later, and loved it from that point forward, but their reactions were completely opposite from what I had expected.

  • Be prepared to hold them. All night.
    They're going to want to see it all, and it's worth a pair of sore shoulders the next day to make that happen.

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    This night is about them
    Above everything else, this is the most important. If this is your first KISS show, or even the only show you're going to see on the current tour, it might not be the best night to take the kids along. If your children are especially young, chances are good that they might not want to remain in one place for an over-2-hour-long show. You'll have bathroom breaks and diaper changes to deal with. Kids may want to walk around or check out the merchandise stands. They might even want to dance in the aisle instead of sitting in their seats. Go with it.

    You might even be seated too close for your kids' comfort! We had fabulous seats just a few rows from the stage on Tommy's side, but during the show we walked up to the mezzanine level and watched from one of the entryways for a while -- my boys liked looking down on the stage and seeing it from that perspective.

  • Reactions from others may not be what you think
    I fully expected to hear negative comments from others about bringing two preschoolers to a KISS show, but every single comment I received from other fans was positive. Many people said that they thought it was great that our little guys got to experience KISS at such a young age -- one fan said "My mom wouldn't let me go see KISS until I was 17!"

  • The show is very kid-safe
    While KISS has long been associated with wild women, cheeky lyrics and hedonism, there's nothing in this show that your kids can't see. The language onstage rarely, if ever, contains cursing -- and while some female fans in the audience may dress provocatively, your kids will likely see much more skin at the beach or public pool in the summertime than at a KISS show.
  • Lastly, expect sensory overload
    KISS shows are sensory experiences, and young children may reach a point where they zone out at the show. (Heck, a KISS concert overloads the senses for most adults.)  The lights, sounds, pyro and show can really be a lot for kids to see, and incredibly, some children may react by falling asleep. While we as adults wouldn't dream of sleeping through a concert, many kids really can and do take naps at the show.

    The first concert we ever took our oldest son to was during Paul's 2006 solo tour in Portland. Here's a photo of him midway through that show...


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    ... and here are photos of our little guys at various points during the Minneapolis show:

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(Best part about that photo on the right? As this boy snoozed away in my arms, Tommy and Paul were tossing guitar picks like mad into the crowd. I saw one flying in the air above me, and my inner fan wanted to stand up and reach for the sky along with the rest of the crowd. But I had a 32-pound sleeping child in my lap. I halfheartedly lifted my hand anyway... and a pick landed right in my palm.)

All in all, it was a fantastic, memorable night for everyone, and my KISS kids will never forget their big weekend. They've been talking about "the KISS concert" for the past two days now, and it's hilarious to watch two preschoolers debate who flew over the crowd better or which song had "more big fireworks."

And just this morning, my 2-year-old notified me, very matter-of-factly, that he's the Doctor of Love.

As a KISS parent, what more could I ask for? I dug out the boys' baby books today and made a few notes in each. And now, right next to the dates for the entries for "First Tooth" and "First Words?"

The dates of their first KISS concerts.

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