Coachella and Letting Go

by Sharon Rosen Leib May 30, 2017


musings-juneLike bees scouting a desert oasis, the neurotic parents (NPs) amongst us flock to the Coachella Valley in spring with our teen daughters. Why? Believe you me, it’s not because these lovely young women want to hang out with us. They’d prefer we buzz off. Rather, it’s because Coachella – the hippest of all three-day music festivals – takes place in Indio mid-April. For teens and young adults, Coachella is THE PLACE to see and be seen.

The kids start wardrobe planning in February, frequenting trendy e-commerce sites to purchase their Coachella garb: strategically ripped jean shorts; barely-there bathing suits; funky sunglasses; and lots of glitter, sequins and temporary tattoos to adorn their exposed flesh.

We NPs tag along to make sure they drink plenty of water, always wear sunscreen and, most importantly, don’t die of an Ecstasy overdose. We’re not interested in attending the festival with them because we don’t look as good half-naked and glittered up. But we do want to keep them safe. We’re unready to let them wander into a den of hedonistic revelry totally unsupervised. Although, we realize we must concede when they head off to college.

Throughout Youngest Daughter’s high school years we’ve been trying, like gently shaken tambourines, to remain background noise. It helps that we inherited a timeshare week at the Palm Desert Marriott (a Coachella scenester hot-spot) from my parents. This relatively luxurious free lodging has enticed our daughters to allow us to enter the Coachella Valley zip code and reside with them during the festival.

When Youngest Daughter was a 14-year-old freshman she begged to go to Coachella with friends. I told her nothing doing unless we all came along. Eye rolling ensued but she knew I wasn’t about to let her go without a parent onsite.  So I booked the timeshare for coveted Weekend 1 (way cooler than Weekend 2). Unfortunately, we got priced out of the ticket market. Even my husband’s ticket-broker cousin couldn’t score admission at a palatable price.

We went nonetheless – dubbing the weekend No-chella. Watching the festivalgoers shuttle back and forth to the concert venue pained our daughters. However, they enjoyed lounging poolside with the hipster set. I inhaled the general Coachella vibe (basically a bunch of privileged kids having fun in a controlled environment) and relaxed a tad.

The following year, I felt fine allowing Youngest Daughter and a friend, both 15, to attend the festival with Oldest and Middle Daughters. But my husband and I insisted on accompanying them to the timeshare to observe their comings and goings. All went well. No one died of an Ecstasy overdose or puked on the Marriott’s carpet.

This April, her senior year Coachella, Youngest Daughter pushed hard to stay at the timeshare with friends, unaccompanied by parents and siblings. Still not ready to let go, my husband and I refused. We endured relentless eye rolling. I promised we’d let her and her friends do their own thing and we did. Again, we all coexisted and had fun. My husband and I hiked in Joshua Tree and dined with a dear friend (another NP whose 17-year-old daughter was at Coachella). Youngest Daughter and her friends attended the concert until the wee hours. Everyone survived unscathed.

Next year, Youngest Daughter will be a college freshman. I offered to book the timeshare for her and some friends if they pay the cleaning and maintenance fees and vacuum the glitter off the carpet. The time has come for us to let go and buzz off.


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