You never quite know where life is going to lead us, but the one role in life I never thought I would have is Band Parent. When I started my family, I knew I would be dragged into all sorts of activities. I believe in being involved with my son’s activities. Heck, I spent four years as a Cub Scout Assistant Den Leader, which is the lowest rank you can have in Scouting and still get to wear the spiffy uniform. I just never thought I would be involved in a marching band.
In high school I knew lots of band geeks and even dated a few musicians. I, however, have no musical talent whatsoever. I get banned from humming at work. The threat of karaoke night draws laughs and veiled threats from my family.
I love music. I appreciate musical talent. I just have none of my own, so my son didn’t get any from me. My wife is the only Asian I know that has never been forced to learn an instrument, so any latent ability in her is undiscovered. Musical talent was the last thing we expected to find in any mixture of our collective DNA.
We thought elementary school band would be a good way to round out our son’s scholastic experience. For those unfamiliar with the genre, elementary school bands sound like kids throwing rocks at very sick cats that have been tied up in large burlap bags. They usually sound better tuning their instruments than actually playing them. Still we went to the concerts and even have a few performances on videotape just in case any of the other kids ever become famous pop stars and E! needs embarrassing footage for a Behind The Music rip-off.
In middle school we started paying for weekly private lessons with a teacher that unbeknownst to us had a really good jazz band on the side and had former students go on to become professional recording artists. We feel like we’re paying Lance Armstrong to teach our kid to ride a tricycle.
Two years ago we showed up for parent night for the high school band and foolishly volunteered to help out moving equipment. Now we chaperone trips, put plumes in hats, sell all sorts of crap, and generally write off every weekend between August and November. Here is what the past few days have entailed:
Thursday: Pick him up from the twice weekly 6 to 9 band practice.
Friday: Attend football game. Push percussion equipment on and off the field at half time. Go to Bennigans after the game because they donate 15% of our sales to the band.
Saturday: Take him to another special practice and then load all the equipment into a rental truck.
Sunday: Wake up at 5:30 am so we can get him down to the school for a 2-1/2 hour bus ride to a competition. We carpool with another band parent to the competition so I can drive the lawn tractor that tows the percussion equipment on and off the field. We return home after 8 pm that night.
Monday: Band Booster meeting: Time to start planning the Spring trip to Orlando.
Tuesday: Set up the school cafeteria for the end of the season pot-luck dinner. Ate lukewarm lasagna and KFC chicken while listening to the students give each other awards like Loudest Belcher and Biggest Wedgie.
Now that marching band season is over, my son is rehearsing every night this week as part of the band for a community theater musical. He is also thinking of joining the afterschool jazz band and the indoor drumline. I don’t know what those entail, but I’m sure it affects my Shell card.
I love that he is involved in something that is only about the fourth dorkiest thing you can do in high school, but I just try to keep some ironic detachment about my own complicity in all this.
I know I am getting no sympathy from the Bloggin’ Moms (and Dads) out there with three kids who each have four activities. One kid with one activity would be their idea of heaven, but a golf shirt with a school logo on the front and “Pit Crew” stitched on the sleeve is definitely not anything I ever imagined in my wardrobe.
So go ahead and top this and tell me what part of your life is a completely random non-sequitor for where you thought you would be?
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