School is about to start, and I am delighted that Hope and I will be back on a nice fixed schedule. The funny thing is, that I’ve just finished putting all of her band stuff on my calendar so that I can see how things track with my travel this fall, and I’ve come to the conclusion that life as I know it is really over until November.
Sweet, HeyZeus, I’ve pleasantly let myself wallow in denial about how consuming this marching band thing would be until the last few days.
Band kids and band mom-ing is, apparently, a lifestyle.
Yes, a lifestyle.
And I am kind of freaking out about how I’m supposed to navigate the schedule, the parental expectations and all of the nuance of social-band-parenting.
Hope just finished up two grueling weeks of band camp, which started at 7am and ended at 4:45pm. (BTW, she is now a dark chocolately shade that makes me swoon over her brown skin ala India Arie. She’s not thrilled about being dark, thanks to all the colorism she has internalized, but that’s a post for another day). Hope has made numerous friends, developed a few flutterby-life-cycle crushes and has inside jokes that only band kids know. She has developed a relationship with her new “people” for high school and I’m grateful that band has provided that for her.
Me? I have no effing idea where I belong.
This spring I wrote about my realization about being a ‘band mom’ and how I noticed that my own behavior was, shall we say…off at one of the last band parent concerts of 8th grade.
So, sadly, nothing about that has changed. I still have no idea what the heck is going on with this band lifestyle that I tripped into.
Last week the band parents’ association met before hosting a BBQ for the parents and the kids. I learned that I would need to come to a lot of meetings; I would need to raise a lot of money; I would need to volunteer a lot of time to this band thing.
Ok, intellectually I knew that; but I’m not much of a joiner and the non-conformist in me has an immediate knee-jerk rebelling reaction. I know I have to get over that and probably stop screaming on the inside, “Can’t I just, like, write you a check each month to cover some stuff?”
There are tons of activities; like for instance, there is a “Tag Day”(didn’t even know what it was, so I surreptitiously looked it up with my phone under the table) coming up and the organization is asking for volunteers for the all-day activity. You should know that any day that is promoted as an all-day event for Hope is considered a much needed day of respite for this single parent. I had no idea what a Tag Day was, but I immediately thought I needed to call a masseuse and book an appointment for Tag Day, which might just become a holiday of sorts for me.
Then the signup sheet came swishing by…and guilt set in. I eventually willed myself to stay with my massage plan, only because I knew I wouldn’t get out of something else later in the season.
There was gleeful talk about how the band got invited to Disney last year, and I panicked about what would be necessary to fund such an endeavor and the possible combination of three of my least favorite things: Disney, begging for money and chaperoning (I lost a kid in a museum last year, nearly triggering an Amber alert for a wayward, little deviant who ran off from my group).
Then there was the updates about meetings, purchasing spirit wear, and the need for more volunteers for everything and I just was so overwhelmed. The other freshmen parents were kind of scattered about in the room and I didn’t recognize most of the people. I was appalled that the parents have to raise money for things like having the band uniforms cleaned (budget cuts) and equipment repairs (budget cuts).
By the time the meeting wrapped I was feeling exhausted from the financial needs to support a band a public school, thinking about how I, as a single parent, would best use my time and skills to be supportive without being consumed and whether I could make some much needed friends with other band parents.
So, the band BBQ starts and parents who knew each other were chatty Cathy’s—but initially only with each other. I, again, thought I’d sidle over to the 3 other brown parents; nope no willingness to have benign chatter with me over baked beans. After checking my breath to make sure I wasn’t poopy breathed, I slid back into my seat from the meeting, hoping to chat up the folks dining at the table. I drop into the conversation about how the one family’s kid is just so far advanced and he’s taught himself like 7 instruments and how it’s just so difficult to find adequate music coaches for his talent and oh, by the way, they are buying him an SUV when he gets his license this fall.
Shifts seat to the left to hear more about this other family’s daughter who is doing marching band for the first time so she can try something different given how she’s always played volleyball during band season. Scouts are looking at her, but she just wanted to try something different since she’s been in private lessons for flute and piccolo for YEARS. She’s really gifted at both instruments and sports.
I get the bragging on kids, I do, and I can brag on Hope, but our accomplishments are so different and don’t seem to fit the conversational paradigm.
And being braggarts is something for which metro DC folks are famous. We say, “Hi! So, what do you do?” when we first meet you to assess where you rank socially and whether a potential relationship can be advantageous to us. Socially the business card exchange in DC is akin to a hook up, and if it’s a high rank, it can be nearly orgasmic. (A couple of years ago the CEO of a major, major pharma company gave me his cell phone number; internally I did a dance of joy because this number was coveted! My boss didn’t even have it.).
Hope just recently got over the notion that she could grow up to be Beyonce, yet is still asking if she might be considered a musical prodigy. Talented: yes. Prodigy? No, dear heart.
So there I was, thinking to myself, well, I want to fit in but I loathe playing this game with my kid because it’s just a no win.
My contribution is that Hope is in private lessons with a pianist who can trace her training lineage back to Mozart. #eyeroll It must’ve worked because someone asked if she was taking on new students and if I could share her number (I didn’t mention that her house smells like cat pee).
The crazy thing is that it is perfectly ok for Hope to be at the level she’s at. I wish she would practice more because I do see her raw talent, but given what she’s endured, she’s just fine. For now this is a great school activity; I don’t know if it will turn into something more. I resent feeling like I have to do all this volunteer stuff and compete socially on Hope’s musicality.
I’d also be lying if I didn’t write that I resent having to be consumed with Hope’s activities, but I recognize that as my own personal adoptive parent of an older child growing pain. It’s an ongoing friction concerning my focus on what I feel like I have to give up in parenting, rather than focusing on what I get in parenting.
I’m hoping that I can sort a lot of this out in the coming weeks and that my study of the band parenting social ecosystem gets easier and that the learning curve gets shorter. I hope I can get over my own issues. I hope that, like Hope, I can find my people in the band parents’ organization. Most of all, I hope I can have fun with Hope during this band season; I can already see her growing and trying to figure out her own social stuff. I’m hopeful that this trend will continue.
For now though, I’ll order myself that overpriced band booster jacket that will match Hope’s overpriced band spirit wear and I’ll figure how best to leverage a good time out of this thing.