April 24, 2014 by
Photography by Ralston Arena

Look at those squeaky-clean faces in the photo. If you are the grandparent or parent of pre-teen children, you will no doubt recognize Shout (keyboards), Marina, (drums), Kiki (guitar), and Twist (turntable). They are The Fresh Beat Band, whose Nick Jr. TV show of the same name is a bed-bouncing favorite whenever I babysit my grandsons, 4-year-old Easton and 3-year-old Barrett.

The quartet’s January performance at the sparkling Ralston Arena was to be Easton’s first concert experience.

It was probably a dirty trick, but I had decided that he would learn for the first time the purpose of our outing only when the band bounded onto the stage. Easton cannot yet read, but I was sure he would instantly recognize the band’s logo plastered across the towering video display. He didn’t. And I was equally sure that my deception would be exposed when he noticed all the Fresh Beat Band T-shirts and other regalia throughout the auditorium slowly filling with a horde of soon-to-be screaming tots and tykes. Again, he didn’t.

My ruse had worked.

When the wildly popular combo finally bopped onto the stage and tore through a truncated version of their theme song, his face froze and a glassy look came to his eyes.

Every parent and grandparent yearns to be able to read the minds of children too young to effectively communicate abstract ideas, and I would have given anything to be able to read his mind at that very moment. Easton’s hypnotic stare gave me the sense that an inner battle was being waged. He knew what he was seeing and hearing, but the visage was one that had to date existed only in the flat-screen, fantasy world of television. Now the characters of his fave TV show had a very in-your-face, corporeal existence, one entirely independent of their digital imprint.

I could almost hear the cogs turning as he puzzled through the apparition before him. Did he understand the difference between TV and reality?

Easton continued to think about it for what seemed an eternity while I did the same in terms of trying to divine any hint of what must be racing through his noggin.

He snapped out of his trance moments later when the band ripped into a raucous cover of The Go-Go’s “We Got the Beat.” It wasn’t half way through that number that he dropped from his aisle seat and was dancing frenetically in that spasmodic, herky-jerky style peculiar to small children.

If there had been any existential warfare raging in his little head it had now been erased by sheer reckless abandon as he whirled through such showstoppers as “A Friend Like You,” “Freeze Dance,” and “Just Like a Rock Star.”

Easton will soon be old enough to relate on a more complex level. In the meantime, I wonder if all will be lost to the dusty recesses of memory. Will he remember the high five he got from Twist, the band’s main purveyor of comic relief? Will he a year from now even be able to recall anything at all from this day? Anything?

His grandpa sure will.

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