Dan Middleton, better known as DanTDM to millions of adolescent fans around the world, performed at the Akron Civic Center last Friday.
My two oldest daughters asked for tickets. They don’t ask for much. They’re not boy band fans. Our big entertainment expense usually involves a Sunday afternoon trip to the movie theater.
So when they pleaded for DanTDM tickets, I jumped at the opportunity for a parenting win, but not before asking, “What’s a DanTDM?”
“Not a what. A who. He’s a YouTuber,” my oldest daughter said. “He has millions of followers on his (YouTube) channel. You know? He does the Minecraft videos.”
“Oh yeah,” I replied half-knowingly. “OK, let’s go.”
When I posted to Facebook friends about Mr. TDM, they made it clear they knew all about him. “The YouTuber!” one parent proudly replied, but not before one of my more hip friends Brandon quipped, “Do you try to sound old, or is that just natural?”
Brandon was right. I was trying to sound old. I knew of DanTDM long before they asked for tickets.
Acting like I don’t know something is part of Adam’s Parenting 101 strategy. Once in a while I act like I have no clue what my kids are talking about to see how they’ll react.
My kids see this as an opportunity to teach something new to their know-it-all dad. I see this as an opportunity to connect with my kids.
They’re not fully aware of my little scheme, but my oldest daughter is catching on. She’s clever and skeptical, like her mother.
Before dropping $270 on three tickets (no, that’s not a typo; $90 per ticket), I did a little digging to be sure that: (A) this would indeed be an appropriate show for kids (I had no reason to suspect otherwise, but you never know), and (B) would this be even the slightest bit entertaining for a 40-something year-old.
At the show, we weaved our way through a sea of dazed parents and eager children to find our seats. When I made eye contact with parents and snapped them from their zombie-like trance, I’d ask, “Do you know what the ‘TDM’ stands for?”
“The Diamond Minecart,” one mom triumphantly replied.
I paused and asked her, “What’s a Diamond Minecart?” Too late. She was off to buy a $30 T-shirt.
The show included references to Minecraft and characters from his series that most parents wouldn’t know. But the kids knew every reference, as evidenced by the high-pitched squeals and excessive decibel levels.
The encore included a plea from DanTDM to not share online what we just saw. “Make it a surprise for everyone,” he said.
The real surprise, however, was something I shared with everyone online and in-person – that my children and I built some great memories, thanks, in part, to a world-famous YouTuber.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about communication and relationships, parenting and sports. He writes a weekly column for The Vindicator newspaper on social media and society.