Hope has about 5 weeks left of school, more or less. This would also be 5 weeks left of middle school—thank you Holy Homeboy. I remember some highlights of my own middle school years, but I seem to largely have blocked it out from my mind. I’m now convinced it is because middle school sucks.
Your hormones really kick in.
Relationships are complicated and have the lifespan of a butterfly (about a week or two, if you were wondering).
You struggle with developing your own sense of style or just falling in with the ubiquitous jeans and t-shirt routine.
Cartoonish attempts at applying makeup abounds.
Sexuality is questioned.
There is a constant need to fit in and standout.
And it’s all misery inducing.
Yeah, middle school sucks. I knew it would suck for Hope; hoped it wouldn’t, but anticipated that it would. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would get swooped up into the suckiness.
During the last year and a half, I’ve developed yet another identity that I didn’t see coming. First I was Black, then single, then I became an adoptive mom. Then there were the times I was just a Single Black Mom. Then I became Dr. ABM.
Talk about intersecting identities…
So, somewhere along the way, I also became a Band Mom.
Yep, Hope is a band geek—do they still call them that? Is it Gleek now? I dunno, but I do know that I’m a Band Mom.
I’ve chaperoned a few field trips, gone to most of the concerts (I’ve missed a couple because of business travel), dragged a tenor sax to various practices, hired accompanists for solo ensembles, asked about reed readiness, baked sweets for fundraisers, bought and sold magazines, poinsettias, popcorn, nasty cheesecakes, cookie dough and pizza dough, and sat in stanky band rooms (‘cause middle schoolers are funky—and that descriptor is being polite and generous) helping put on cummerbunds, bow ties and pearl necklaces, and I’ve worked car washes during which the parents worked harder than the kids.
Despite all of this, at this week’s band concert I realized that I was still not a part of the band parents’ clique.
Oh, they remember me because I’m at all the major events and I volunteer, and well as the only Black band parent who seems to be active, I know they see me. #donthitmewiththatidontseecolorfoolery
But I don’t get any invites. They don’t remember my name; they remember that we, Hope and I, relocated mid-year last year; they forgot that we are an adoptive family and I’ve lived here over half my life—I guess I don’t hold that one against them.
I am on the margins because these folks have known each other since elementary school, and I’m still the newbie. I am the chick who sidles into conversations, waiting to jump in like a game of double-dutch. The one who is showing the new social media tracking app I’m using to monitor Hope’s internet wanderings. The one who is asking who’s going to be at the next event and can they save me a seat since I don’t have anyone to sit with (see that single identity).
During this week’s concert, I found myself sitting next to one of the cool Band parents, “Jen” (not her real name). I like Jen a lot; she’s fun and sarcastic and just my kinda chick. She also saved me a seat. #score!
At one point in the concert, the band director was explaining the history of an Elizabethan march the kids were about to play. I rolled my eyes dramatically, since I’m kinda over hearing this song during practice.
Jen giggled and said, “You are such a bad influence on me!” She said it that way that you know she totally digs the fact that you’re irreverent and cool and fun. #shelikesme #shereallyreallylikesme
And in that moment I realized that I was in middle school all over again. #ugh
To quote Hope, I like, literally, rolled my eyes dramatically to get Jen’s attention and let her know I was too cool for school and I was like, literally, in like my heart, like literally thrilled that she responded in a way that literally let me know that I had hit the mark.
I was cool and I *might* just be breaking into the cool Band parents’ clique. #nobodyfresherthanmyclique
And I was mad happy about that ish. Especially since Jen said, we had like, literally, 4 years of band hanging out to do when the kids started high school this fall.
I am so in!
Literally is a word that is spoken in my home like, I dunno, literally 8 billion times a day. I hate that word.
I can’t believe this Band parent identity is really a thing. How the devil did I get caught up in caring about whether I was a part of the cool parents’ group? #causeIsecretlywanttobecool And why weren’t more brown and black parents involved in Band Parenting and was there some underground group they had that I also needed to break into? #wherearemypeeps
Where do I belong? What am I doing?
A better question is what in the entire hell is going on here? I have resorted to tween antics trying to fit into this new identity of Band Mom. Holy Hey-Zeus, I’m in middle school all over again. #hangsheadinshame
And yet, I find myself still hopeful that I broke into the clique sufficiently before high school starts. I’d hate to have to be still sweating these folks this fall. #iaintgottimeforallthat
That would be, like, so not cool.
Like, literally not cool at all.