Sunday, April 3, 2011

The 23 hour day....

Yesterday morning, I got up at 5:30 and hit the floor going fast and furious.
I'd prepared for nearly a week for the day ahead and was excited and looked forward to it.
When everything was said and done, I walked back through my door this morning at 4:45...

... 45 minutes short of a 24 hour day.

Phew...  AND right this moment, I feel like I've been run over by the proverbial band bus.

But here's what happened over the course of that day.

Carolina Indoor Percussion Association Championships were held yesterday in Cullowhee, North Carolina on the campus of Western Carolina University.  My boy is part of an indoor percussion group that competes in this division.  Not only does my boy compete, but 22 other children whom I love nearly as much as my own are a part of this effort.

Moving a percussion ensemble some 2 1/2 hours from home, to spend the day and compete is no small feat.
It involves charter buses and moving trucks, logistics enough to move a small army (which ironically, is exactly what it looked like we were doing).  The details for making the day run smoothly must be pre-thought and then put into motion by the kids themselves and their attending instructors and parents.

Two professional music instructors gave so much time and attention to the kids this season.  From early days of planning , to constant instruction, hours of 'after hours' practice, to intense devotion to the emotional aspects of competing and 'winning' very little was left undone.  Our instructors are young and learning themselves, but deeply devoted and very invested in the welfare and growth of my child and the others.  To take 23 individual teenagers and turn them into a cohesive working unit who all but breathe together, all the while performing music and moving in a synchronized fashion still, even after 14 years of being a band parent, takes my breath away.  To tell a story while doing it, is even more impressive.  To not rip your hair out when days and nights are long, when the kids don't understand or are mischievous or wild, speaks volumes to the skill set and maturity level of our young instructors.

I will say that while the parent team yesterday was small, it was as well 'oiled' a machine of parent support as I have ever worked with.  We each fell to work in our self assigned tasks, would drop our task and help where needed and except for a wee amount of complaining about the occasional physical discomfort, every parent face that I saw was nearly always smiling.  Those that weren't smiling were very intent on the task at hand or on the face of a child.  We dealt with small emergencies and larger ones.  A grandmother jumped in to help transport our bus driver to a hotel, in order to meet the requirements of the law about numbers of hours worked for bus drivers.  I'm not sure what we'd have done without her.  By her stepping in and taking him, we were able to keep the charter bus as our 'camp' or our home away from home for the day, which added immeasurably to our comfort and safety.  A pair of parents drove the massive truck, after loading it with equipment and followed us back down the mountain in the middle of the night, keeping thousands of dollars of equipment safe and sound and right where we needed it.  Myself and another mom did just that... we managed the kids, their Maslow needs and kept things running and organized.

Not to say at all that this was entirely work.. for it was not.  There were silly lighthearted moments...There was that fun description that I gave about how to use a moving toilet...  There were some brief moments where kids and adults broke forth in song, from Gospel to opera and everything in between, when you realized why we were band people and not a choral group.

There were hugs and tears and hand holding.
There were band-aids and ice packs and barf bags.

There were sunshine and wind, peanut butter sandwiches and homemade chocolate chip cookies.
There was the rivalry and the camaraderie and the nerves.

There was tension and jitters and practice and lectures and more practice.

The first business at hand was warm-ups, in a brisk 45 mile per hour wind, which whipped up dust devils into our eyes and made the progress much harder.  There were pink noses and cheeks from the sun and bumps and bruises from moving equipment.  Because we were short of help, there were 5 or 6 students from the university who adopted us for the day and pitched in on every hands front, going WAY above and beyond the call of duty and reminding me again, that there are so many good people willing to lend a helping hand, just when you need it most.

There was a tense wait, in the tunnel leading to the arena.

And then there were drums... and other instruments to be sure.

At the end of the performance, our kids left the arena with a very unsettled feeling.  I, myself, couldn't lay my hands or mind on exactly what was going on.  It's interesting to watch... you could read their body language... they'd done what they could do, and almost without exception, they felt that they hadn't done enough.

There was tears from the youngest and from the oldest, who had just performed their final competitive act.
There was love apparent, on every front, in every eye and every breathable touchable moment.

They reached out to each other... they revealed themselves to be deep and precious human beings, so very connected to each other, a band of brothers and sisters in every sense of the word, connected beyond the color of their skin, their ages and all the life experiences they bring.

They came in 5th.  A very respectable showing.

Putting aside anything they earned from CIPA, they came in first in my heart and soul and made me so very glad to have been along for the ride. 

What comes next can, in no way, thank each and every person who helped and was a part of the day.  These are the ones that come to my very tired mind today.  I do appreciate every part played and every thing that everyone did to make the day a success.

To the beautiful children of the Indoor Percussion group, thank you for loving my boy and each other.
Thank you for loving me, for always being respectful and the most delightful kids in the world to work for and with.  Always remember in the 'game' of life to stay connected to each other and to work hard and give it your best.  This will take you far in life and give you a better life than you can begin to imagine.

To Paisha, Dan, Tyler, CJ and Trent, our seniors, thank you for years of leadership and experience, hard work and flat out sticking to it in a world where it's far easier to quit and take the easy way out.  I can hardly wait to see where your life's journeys lead you.  I expect you to keep in touch with me and I expect great things!

To Nana, Bop,Chris, Will and Laney - Thank you for driving hundreds of miles during this season and being an enthusiastic cheering section for not just Trent, but for our band.   Thank you for feeding him and encouraging him.  Laney, thank you for being a classy little lady, well beyond your age in maturity. I do adore you.

To Ms Mary... thank you for driving all over the mountains so that the bus driver could drive safely and jumping in and taking that worry away.  Thank you for last minute phone calls, for an emergency shopping trip  and going way above the call of duty.

To Al and Debbie and Michelle, from the bottom of my heart, and my very tired toes, thank you for your undying devotion and endless backbreaking work, for being up at all hours and staying focused on what we all know is both an important task and one that, in the grand scheme of things is actually pretty short in duration. Thank you for walking a million miles, for feeding them from boxes and bags, for cajoling and correcting, for hugs and helping wipe tears.   Thank you for the laughter and for what you've done for my child.  I do appreciate it.

To Carmen... Do not worry about the search for where your life will lead you... the work will teach you.
Whatever it is, I know that you'll be amazing at it.  Thank you for loving my boy and being his teacher and his guide on this journey. Thank you for the energy and the knowledge that you brought to Trent's final days in high school band. Thank you for not killing him at times, and for encouraging him always.  And not just for Trent but for the other 22 kids as well.  Most of these kids are not percussion kids... you've taken a crew of saxophone players and trumpet players and guard girls, flutist and players of pretty much every class of instruments and run percussion through their brains.  That's no small feat.  May you have gained  1/10th as much as they have learned.

To David...You're right... words to describe what we need to say are hard to find. Perhaps impossible.
At risk of repeating myself, thank you for being there and bringing my boy back to band.  Thank you for being his mentor and teacher and friend.  Thank you for the silly moments and the serious ones, for loving each and every kid and working so hard to help them succeed.  These first two years of the career that you are so obvious suited for have certainly been a challenge.  A learning and growing experience should not be easy and it should push you to the limit of what you can do.  I think we've succeeding in doing that.

Sometimes when words fail, a picture is worth a thousand words.  When I uploaded the photos from my camera, I was pleased to find a photo, in which if you look closely, you can see the children reflected in the lens of your glasses.  How very appropriate... the band through your eyes...  Thank you for your vision, in every sense of the word. Thank you for returning the music to my boy and to me.

Thank you to Tommy, who pretty much never complains... who comes home to an empty house for seasons at a time, washes the dishes, deals with the dogs and every domestic emergency and supports this effort financially, making it possible for both Trent and for me.

And finally, to Trent... my baby boy... in whose eyes I can see the future. Take the lessons that band has taught you and move on to the edge.  As you step boldly from your childhood into all that comes next, know that your mother loves you. I have enjoyed every single moment.   May the rhythm of your drums and of the heartbeat of our home tide you over when life is tough.

Fly strong and free from our home into your future, always knowing that the road leads back to home.

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