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.
August 31st, 2015 at 5:34 pm
Oh my gosh, I can’t stand that parent boasting stuff. It’s just their attempt to cover their own insecurities. You’re going to be a great band mom – you’re not overly invested in Hope’s performance, you’re just hoping she has fun and grows from the experience! Believe me, band teachers and coaches dream of parents like you – supportive, but sane!
August 31st, 2015 at 11:41 pm
Ah!! I hope you find the “real” band parents soon. The volleyball parent was most cringeworthy to me. I actually rolled my eyes.
September 1st, 2015 at 1:58 pm
I found both of them to be obnoxious, but at least they talked to me. Sigh…
September 1st, 2015 at 10:51 am
This is EXACTLY how i feel about Mary’s school PTA…we went to two meetings last year and felt so WTF about it…everyone was super clicky, they weren’t interested in hearing any suggestions from the parents that weren’t part of their little clique, and all they did was talk about who’s kid played chess and was on his way to Master status, who’s kids where in band 1 (which apparently is totally different from band 2), and sports and all that other BS. We swore off the meetings for the rest of the year. 1st PTA meeting is this coming Thursday, and Callie and I are gonna go, and see how this turns out. Oh, and we signed Mary up for Soccer starting 9/12, and signed ourselves up for uniform distribution, opening day, photo day, and of course, I HAD to sign up to coach her team. My old pregnant ass! It’s gonna be a shitshow, but we’ll see how it turns out. At least you’re giving it a chance..that’s what counts because that’s what’s gonna be important to Hope in the long run. I know it made the difference to me when my parents did it (my dad only missed one soccer game of mine my WHOLE LIFE that I can actually remember, and it’s when his sister died and he flew out to Colombia for her funeral and stuff). She’ll remember it, and it’ll make you a way awesomer mom!
September 1st, 2015 at 1:57 pm
*Must see you coaching* (Books Bolt Bus to NYC)
Being engaged is really important and I know Hope wants me to be there, so I will. But wow…they are sooooooo *engaged* that it’s overwhelming. And the parenting playground competition is so absurd. I’m like, “hey we went a month with no food hoarding!” I suppose it’s all relative.
September 2nd, 2015 at 2:20 am
It could be worse. It could be gymkhana.
September 5th, 2015 at 11:32 am
I keep hoping we’ll find an activity where the other parents aren’t like this – but I’m not holding my breath. Why does everyone’s kid have to be gifted and talented/headed for the Olympics/Congress/a future Rhodes scholar/the best at everything ever? I so relate to what you said, that our accomplishments are different and don’t fit the conversational paradigm. I wish I could say to one of the other moms, my oldest managed to graduate high school, and finally got her first job at 20 and is building a little confidence! My 11 year old is making all As and Bs and hasn’t had any behavioral issues at school so far this year. For where they’ve come from these are huge accomplishments, but not anything the other moms at soccer would understand. I just wish it didn’t feel like this competition for everyone’s kid to be The Best Ever.
November 30th, 2015 at 3:38 am
I’m right there with you, only my thing is my daughter’s sports. I do NOT fit in with the sports moms. I never played competitive sports and it seems most of them have and now their daughters are taking after them. I usually have four or five younger kids in tow and so I am an OUTCAST socially at these things. Glad to know I’m not the only one! How is band going now that it’s been a while?
August 25th, 2016 at 10:16 am
*A* wants to play every sport known to man. Currently we’ve done baseball, basketball, hockey and are heading into Year 2 of soccer. In all of these sports I have yet to meet parents that I’ve spoken too more than one game. When we went to soccer yesterday, the majority of the parents there were dads and of the 2 moms, one didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish and the other INTENTIONALLY sat so far away I didn’t even bother.
I’m with you…it would be nice to have one other Parent friend. Someone to suffer through long games and boring outings with. *A* is about to start Kindergarten in 2 weeks so maybe i’ll meet a Parent friend in his class or the PTA (if I can stand it, lol).