Tuesday, October 04, 2011

warts and all

Warts make you think of witches, I bet. When I was little, I had a line of warts that would come and go on my forearm. I was absolutely horrified by them (as any good preteen would be). More recently, I've had a series of plantar warts that don't so much horrify me as piss me off. They're highly painful, inconvenient, and gross. The latest one is on my big toe, if anyone cares.

"Warts and All": The whole thing; not concealing the less attractive parts.

I was raised as a band kid. With a band director for a father, I grew up believing that high school consisted solely of band kids and football kids. Band kids went to school to learn to play instruments and to march at football games played by the football kids. This was exacerbated by growing up in Texas, which is big for football and band. My childhood memories include band trips and being passed around the bus by teenage girls who oohed and awwed over the books I was reading. I adored band and everything about it. (Largely because I adored my father!!) Then, somehow, I grew up a little bit and was old enough to BE in band. I adored it even more. My high school memories are, essentially, band memories. The smells of uniforms, of my mouthpiece, of the bus. The band hall with corregated silver walls and forests of music stands. The sounds of the band hall, of random pieces of music while kids warmed up. Snippets of marching tunes. Memories of friends, of competition, of being part of something great.

I didn't think anything could top those memories, until I had children. And then my children joined band and I was able to watch their joy in being part of band. Let me tell you...watching your child enjoy something magnifies the level of joy multifold. Thousands of multifold. Last year, my son was a freshman and started high school band. Finally!! Last fall was amazing. Suddenly, after years of absence, I was plunged firmly back into the life of band. Rehearsals. Competitions. The thrill of doing well. Laughter, silliness, companionship. I was lifted up to the heights I'd forgotten about - had never even really known to that extent. It was like a drug. I wanted more. I wanted to dive in, to encourage, to participate.

So I did.

I became Band Booster president. And this year? This year, I have been made acutely aware of the warts that exist behind the scenes. Instead of hearing the band play "The Jerk" in the stands and watch them dance, I am racing through traffic to return to the band hall to retrieve a forgotten uniform. Instead of 150% rejoicing in the 2nd place win the band received at their first competition, I am trying to figure out how to deal with a student passing out from heat exhaustion while a well-meaning but power-hungry chaperon turns into a bear and yells at anyone who dares try to help. Instead of dissolving in ecstasy into the fall temperatures and colors, and into the fun of MARCHING SEASON, I am receiving phone calls from irate and over-worked board members and stressing out over fundraisers. The joy has completely disappeared with the emergence of the warts. Big time.

I have discovered that I don't love band, warts and all. I really only love it without the warts. I love it as the fairy tale I grew up with. I love the possibilities and dream of it. I don't love the reality of it. I am not loving worrying about budgets and concessions and volunteer hours. I'm not loving it, and I'm pissed. (There is SOOO much drama I am not describing here, as you can certainly imagine.)

It would take only a small move to return to the love and joy I felt last year. I could make the decision that I do not want to continue to sacrifice my personal enjoyment and not continue as band booster president next year. I could step down and return to "highly involved" but not "responsible" parent. There's nothing wrong with that. It's certainly tempting, and it's a very plausible next decision.

There are those who love, and those who know the warts and still love. I have decided those are two very distinctive groups. I have not decided which one is preferable. Warts are reality. But they are an ugly reality. Are we better off ignoring their existence, or in acknowledging them and accepting them? I am not sure.

What is my role as a parent? That question is easy. My role is to facilitate the best life possible for my children. My son doesn't see the warts that I see. He sees the same thing I saw when I was in high school band - warts free. And there is nothing I want more than to assure that he and my daughter have a collection of fantastic memories.

How to assure that? To be decided.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting outlook, gal. My experience revealed that there are always mothers who relished the role of chief band booster, so I had no problem letting them take over. I rode the waves of enjoying the experience, except when the band director I love became too stressed. Anyway, haven't been to a game in years. Guess we got our fill :)