This is the view. Friday night. We have reserved seats. We play “Find the Princess”. Big Daddy always loses.
We sit in the stands in the rain and in the cold. We wait for half time. We critique the other bands. Ours is always better.
“They might be good at football, but their band is terrible”, I text to the Princess.
We go even when we don’t want to. We pack up bags with blankets and an iPad. We buy watery hot chocolate and bags of Cheetos to placate the other girls who would rather be any place else. You’ll catch Baby Bee humming the fight song, unaware, as she moves around her day and if you sing the end of the band’s cadence, she’ll respond with a rousing “Bulldogs!”. Littlebit watches the cheerleaders. She practices kicks and jumps in the living room, learned from hours of football games.
You book an extra vacation to see the band, that you can see any day, march someplace that requires a 16 hour drive or $1200 for airfare to avoid the bus. You set your alarm from 6 :30 in JULY so the kid can be on time to band practice. You stalk her via your phone for the week she’s away at band camp. You sit in dark parking lots with your eyes drooping while you wait for the buses to roll in.
We give up vacations for mandatory parades. We buy black socks and hand warmers in bulk. You have a late fall football “uniform” (three shirts, two pairs of socks, gloves, hat, coat, two blankets…. dear God please don’t let it rain this week)
When your kid comes home from a school pep rally and gets a little teary because the Principal acknowledged the work, time and dedication the band puts into football season, you’ll pat her hand knowingly. You’ll remember what it felt like to be a member of the under noticed arts department, but you’ll remember that it’s a win for her, in the end, as she slowly begins to develop her group of people inside the comfort of the band room just as you did in your day inside the comfort of the choir room. You’ll remember how that room felt like home to you and that it will to her,too. You’ll remember that’s where you made, and kept, your closest friends. You tell her, with a wistful smile, that there will be nothing again like these days and to enjoy them fully.
Because you are enjoying them with her.
You tear up at senior night, knowing your turn to walk arm in arm with her across the field is coming and it can’t be put off. You ask the little two which instruments they’re going to play, so you’ll have a chance to do it all over again.