I've seen some amazing things in my 20-year career as a journalist. But even so, with all I've witnessed throughout the years, I never ever imagined the power of a teenage heartthrob named Justin Bieber.
Yvette Manessis Corporon: As the mother of an 8-year-old girl, I was well versed in Bieber Fever even before I was invited to interview the 15-year-old singing sensation at the Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island. Now we all know that 8-year-old girls can sometimes be a handful -- and my daughter, Christiana, is no exception. That was, of course, until I told her I would be interviewing Justin -- and would be happy to bring her along ... as long as she earned it. Forget all those parenting books I've spent a small fortune on -- I finally found the behavioral magic bullet. With our Justin journey looming ahead, Christiana tiptoed around the house for days -- polite, helpful, and on her best behavior, terrified that she would blow this once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet her first crush and see her first concert.
If his effect on my daughter wasn't enough for me to warm up to the mop-top teen idol, I have to admit I was charmed upon our very first meeting. I mean, here's a kid on the fast track to superstardom; a kid plucked from YouTube obscurity, given a huge recording contract, and worshiped by millions of young girls with the rabid intensity I once reserved for Duran Duran. And even so, even with all of that, the 15-year-old boy I got to spend time with was talented, grounded, and appreciative.
We met for lunch in the Atlantis' famed and fabulous $25,000-a-night Bridge Suite, where Justin immediately gravitated to the piano and began playing and singing. Of course, the mom in me wished I could have brought Christiana along to witness this private concert -- but this was a business lunch, and I knew she would get her chance to meet her idol at his concert in the Atlantis Theatre later that night.
Over salad, wraps, and chocolate chip cookies -- his manager making sure Justin actually ate food, and not just the cookies -- Justin filled me in on how he was spending his Atlantis vacation. "Swimming, jet skiing, going down the slides, and oh yeah," he added, with a laugh and a nod of his signature blonde hair, "... drinking virgin pina coladas." Surprisingly, the boy who causes a fan frenzy wherever he goes says he wasn't hounded by girls while enjoying some much-needed R&R. "No, it hasn't been too bad," he admitted. "They kind of respect the fact that I'm on vacation, and people leave me alone." That's because he had yet to meet Christiana.
With his mom out of earshot in the next room, Justin told me how much he appreciates everything his mom has done for him, and how supportive she is of his career. Apparently, in this family, the performance bug runs deep. Justin explained how his mom had a chance to attend a performing arts school when she was a teen, but her parents didn't allow it. "She never had the chance to do it herself," he explained, "so it's cool that I get to do what she wasn't able to. She's really supportive of me, and that means a lot to me."
As for the best part of his newfound success ... "We didn't have a lot when I was growing up," he explained. "Because we lived in apartments all this time, I really want to buy my mom a house." With Bieber Fever getting hotter every day, I predict Justin will be able to buy his mom many beautiful homes.
Later that night, before his highly anticipated acoustic concert at the Atlantis Theatre, it was finally time for Christiana to meet her crush. We were ushered into a private meet-and-greet at the Atlantis Kids Club, where I watched my little girl quiver when Justin walked into the room. "I can't believe he is right there," she said, as she clutched my hand tighter, nervous tears filling her eyes.
When it was her turn to meet Justin, Christiana stepped up and stared at him, not believing that the boy whose videos she watches over and over again was actually standing right beside her. She only took her eyes off of him long enough to pose for a photo and to pull out the iPod she desperately wanted him to sign. With a flash of a camera and a flick of a Sharpie, her dream came true -- but the drama was just beginning.
"Mommy," she said, the tears falling freely down her face as she held the iPod up to me, "Mommy, I smudged it, it's ruined." But there was no time for tears -- seeing that something had gone wrong, Justin's team immediately sprang into action. Before I could even try to calm her down, they had him sign the iPod again and presented her with a perfect smear-proof autograph. This team doesn't mess around -- they know how fragile young fans can be.
Next we were off to his concert, where my daughter never took her eyes off the stage and I never took my eyes off of her. As much as she loved every minute of our Justin journey, I have to admit I loved it more. One of the best parts of being a parent is getting to experience the world through our children's eyes. I'll never forget the way she danced and sang along with each and every song, the way her eyes twinkled when she looked down at her autograph, or the sweet smile she gave me as she held my hand and whispered, "Thank you, Mommy."
But as grown-up as Christiana seemed, attending her first concert and all, I was once again reminded that she's still just a little girl, my little girl. At 9:30 PM, even before the concert had ended, she tugged at my hand again and announced that she was tired; it was time to go home. That 4:30 AM wakeup call to catch our early flight had done her in. Carrying my tired but happy little girl through the lobby of the Atlantis and back to our room, I realized that while I didn't know the words to any of the songs, this was by far my favorite concert of all time.
|Yvette Manessis Corporon is an Emmy award-winning writer and producer. She is also the co-author of "Peeing in Peace: Tales and Tips for Type A Moms." Yvette lives in New York with her husband and two children.|