When total exhaustion feels GREAT!
Being a parent is the best job I have ever had. Being a band parent makes that experience even better. It’s hard to say what drives a band parent to do what we do other than the sheer exhilaration of seeing our kids perform with a top notch marching machine.
As band parents, we can see the benefits of the marching band program for our kids. But what does the program do for band parents?
I don’t think I knew what I was in for…
I remember walking in to the first booster meeting as a parent of an 8th grader. I was nervous, because I just knew the room was filled with seasoned booster veterans and I was just a newbie. But what did I do at meeting number one? I signed my name on a sheet and volunteered to work a concession stand for a district contest of some sort. Later, I though…”what was I thinking?” I showed up to volunteer at the event and knew a few familiar faces. Low and behold several hours later, I left with aching feet and a smile on my face because of the fun I had getting to know and working with other band parents and kids.
More meetings brought more opportunities to serve. Any chance I got to help, I was raising my hand. Why? I don’t know…I don’t need one more thing to do…what was I thinking? I’ve found that working alongside other band parents is not only hard work but very rewarding and FUN!
A “typical” band trip…
Rising before the crack of dawn to leave for one marching competition, I asked my daughter if she might look into joining another group that didn’t require me to rise in the middle of the night. She rolled her eyes and quickly said, “NO”
Arriving at the school and loading buses is organized chaos or maybe just chaos. As a chaperone, I have to load the bus with drink coolers, snack boxes and first aid kit, find my seat and call role. Riding on the bus with the kids never gets old…except for the uncomfortable bus seats but that’s why you bring a pillow and blanket, right? I love the energy of the kids and joking and visiting with them is so much fun. Believe it or not, there are actually quiet times on the ride.
When the buses pull up to the event, the chuck wagon crew already has lunch prepared. [The chuck wagon crew is a whole other story. They are the rock-stars of boosters. They leave before everyone else and prepare meals and drinks…the hardest working crew around. Oh, and great cooks too!] We get off the bus and jump right into the serving line, dishing out awesome meals for the kids. It’s a continuous chorus of thank-you's from the band members. It’s not just lip service either, you know that they truly appreciate the food.
Band uniforms on…help with a zipper…button this…snap that…”hey kid you need to adjust that”…and all of a sudden, those crazy kids who rode your bus and you just fed, turn into these professional, serious, proud musicians and performers. I almost get nervous around them.
My job is usually to help with the pit crew. When the time comes, the machine that is the Pride of the Lake Marching Band slowly starts moving toward the stadium. I always walk with pride, seeing others look as we pass by. Arriving at the stadium brings a rush of excitement.
How big is the crowd? How does the band marching ahead of us look and sound? Which yard line does this go on? Lord I hope I don’t trip. I want to run over to my kids and give them a high five and say good luck. But I don’t dare. They are “on duty”. Their job for the day began when they started warm ups and will not end until they walk off the field.
Standing in front of the stadium seating, my heart starts to beat faster. I want to turn to the crowd and yell, “Hey, these are our kids…this is the Pride of the Lake…they’re good!!!” I love hearing the announcer say, “From Camdenton, Missouri, please welcome the Camdenton High School Marching Band”. I’m not sure that I breathe during the performance, which in my mind lasts for about 2.5 seconds. Before you know it, the show is over and it’s off the field in a flash.
Back to street clothes and the fun-loving teens we hauled reemerge. Water the kids, snacks out, what can I do to help is the afternoon push. Back to the stadium for prelim awards brings more heart pounding excitement and the first chance I’ve had to sit down since getting off the bus.
The evening meals finds me on dish washing duty. Heavy pots of hot water and scrub, scrub, scrub and dry, dry, dry. It’s back breaking work, but somehow, we are laughing, telling stories and having a blast.
Round two of uniforms, warm-ups and another great show.
The easiest part of the day is when it’s loading time. You just stand back and watch. The kids are amazingly efficient and work hard and quickly to load the trailer. They truly are GREAT kids!
Awards are always a nervous time. No matter where they place, I am always so proud of the kids and the staff. You wish for them huge awards and accolades at every event, but sometimes another amazing, hard-working marching band comes in ahead of them. The talent and work brought to the field by all of the performing bands is quite amazing. No matter where the Pride of the Lake lands at the end of the competition, they give the much deserved respect and sportsmanship to all of the other bands.
The ride home usually brings sleep and quiet for the kids before we reach the highway. As I sit in my uncomfortable bus seat, I think back over the day I have had with the band. I realize I am totally exhausted but feel GREAT!