Thursday, November 13, 2014

Drinkin' the Kool-Aid

Someone told me about the Band Mom Kool-Aid.  Drink it, they said.  You'll love it, they said.  Here in the Other OC, the POD Kool-Aid is especially sweet.  They were right on all counts.  From the first sip, I was hooked.

POD stands for Pride of the Dutchman Marching Band.  It's potent stuff, folks. Children are lured to the streets by the sounds of "Championship" and the hypnotizing "shoosh - shoosh" of wooden shoes skimming the pavement every year at Tulip Festival in May. Most can't wait to someday join the ranks. Marissa has always been quite taken with the POD. She marched in TF parades in the 6th grade and junior high bands. This year as a high school freshman, her band geekage was allowed to fully blossom. Marching down the street in wooden shoes, making 4 right turns in straight lines is all well and good, but street marching is the gateway drug to the field show. We're talking ship formations that plunge themselves against the rocks when lured by the sirens, triumphant ghost ships, and jazz runs - all present in the 2014 POD Field Show, The Flying Dutchman.

Here is what I was never told, or fully understood:
1. How incredibly proud I would be of my child participating in something I had never done myself.  You know this starts on day one. Your child toots and its amazing; smiles and you are over the moon.  Surely yours is the the most brilliant, most talented of them all.  However, as my children have gotten older and are doing things that I have little context for understanding, I find I have moved from being just proud of them to being in total awe.  Marissa showed me her set list for her positions and movements within the show and it looks like a foreign language.  HOW DO YOU DO THIS AND PLAY AN INSTRUMENT (CORRECTLY) AT THE SAME TIME? I am seriously wowed!

2. It's not just your kid, it's all of them. Marissa spent a good 3 weeks prior to her first day of high school at band camp learning the field show with freshman, sophomores, juniors and seniors.  We have a small high school - about 400 kids - and about 150 of them are in band.  I think band camp sort of transforms them into this weird, albeit dysfunctional, family with odd tan lines.  Of course, no one has names last names in band camp.  I heard tales of Jake the baritone, and Claire the bass clarinet and she's guard or he's in the pit.  Say what? Anyway, when I saw their first show, I couldn't help but root for every single one of them and got tears in my eyes while doing so. I also had the reassurance that she wasn't going to parts unknown that first day of school.  Her weird little family would be there to look out for her.

3.  When the season is over, that show is done. Forever.  This is the part that is so very bittersweet.  The Flying Dutchman had an incredible run.  We placed well in all our competitions, but more than that it was just an incredibly fun show to watch! First I thought it was just me, because my kid was marching, but we had strangers from other schools that we were competing against tell us what a great show it was.  People emailed our band director out of the blue to compliment us.   But now it's gone and can never be the same again. That group of kids will never play that show, with that music, with those sets ever again.  It kinda breaks my heart. On the other hand, we can hardly wait for next year's season!

Somehow, I can't help but think this is a strong analogy for having a child in these crazy, magical, high school years.  They wake up, grab some breakfast, and go out and quietly change the world as you know it.   Four years and the season is over.  So as much as I dread coming to the end of my glass, I plan to linger over it, let it loll on my tongue, and get the full flavor so I can appreciate every single drop, all the while looking forward to the next show.

You knew I had to give you the link! Enjoy!

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