Please bear with me-this post is colored by the fact that I’m crabby due to a long day at work, coupled with feeling badly about my son’s schoolwork and my poor parenting skills. (that’s a subject for a different post).
In today’s society, it’s all about being number one. Number one this, number one that. It’s all about winning and not a bit about looking at the people who are either helping you win or being ignored along the way. You’re not “good enough unless you’re part of the elites”. Being part of the “elites” apparently gives some people license to be ugly and nasty to others.
This evening was the last Monday night rehearsal for the local high school marching band. My son hasn’t been able to participate in the marching competitions due to the aforementioned poor parenting. When we got out of the stadium this evening, he was in rare form. I wasn’t very happy myself and cut him off, which I shouldn’t have done. I told him not to air his laundry out for everyone to hear, that we’d talk in the car.
When we got to the car, I found out what happened. Apparently, he was trying to help someone by answering a question and was accused by a director of talking. He received two warnings and was told that a third warning would result in him being told to leave (as in, being sent home for insubordination). Okay. I get that. He was trying to answer a question. My response is, next time, send them to the director. Tell whomever is asking questions that the only person/s qualified to answer are directors. Takes care of THAT issue.
Unfortunately, there’s more to this story than that. Being as he’s “not good enough” for the actual show, he’s an ‘alternate’ (meaning, he stands off the field IF he’s in competition and just watches his fellow band members march and provides support). There are several woodwinds who are also “alternates” and apparently one of them is a loudmouth who spews massive amounts of ugliness in my kid’s direction. Normally, he’d ignore it, but after being told for the umpteenth time that he’s “not good enough” and hearing derogatory comments about his marching skills, he’s a bit frustrated. I’m feeling downright rotten because this is not something I can fix.
So I have a teenager in agony here. He’s not happy with the way things are going and feels that the directors don’t care about the alternates. He feels that he’s not been given a true chance to prove himself to them.
How am I supposed to react to that? Part of me wants to write a scathing letter to the band director, but I don’t think it would do any good. I want to come out of my corner swinging and take names later. I am restraining myself and writing this blog instead of succumbing to my first instinct because I don’t want to make my kid’s life a living hell.
I just don’t know how to fix this issue. I want to be the good parent. I emailed the directors earlier this year and asked how to help him so he wouldn’t be stuck in “alternate limbo” (this ins’t just “shadowing” someone. This is outright, “You don’t march the way we think you need to, so you’re not getting a place in the show. You can provide minor support, you absolutely MUST show up and ‘practice’ marching in order to improve and you will still not have a snowflakes’s chance in a hot environment of being allowe to participate this year. IF you improve, we’ll consider seeng how you are next year.” Okay, I get that. I totally get it’s all about being THE BEST out there and whatnot. (yes, I am sarcastic tonight. I’m as frustrated as my son is now). I GET that you want only the best marchers. I want to know why there wasn’t an offer of “we’ll have you work with our drill instructors” to improve marching or whatever. I have no idea what goes on at the morning rehearsals or the Monday ones because I’m not there for either one.
So supposedly he’s “on the radar”. Nothing’s happened. Okay, again, it’s all a “you have to bust your butt and improve so we can consider you because this year’s a washout.”
Fast forward to the real issues. There are people who are “alternates” who have taken it upon themselves to decide they know who knows how to march and who doesn’t. One of those has decieded to spew rudeness and invective in my son’s direction. My son knows the consequences of fighting. (he has a mouth on him that is inexcusable sometimes, but for the most part, he’s just sarcastic and lashes out verbally, NOT in the manner he’s been spoken to. He knows I’ll kick his ass if he says anything that is unacceptable to me, and that includes any sort of slur against a person.)
I really want to call a meeting with the band directors and say, hey. You need to deal with this but do NOT make my kid the scapegoat. I don’t want him to have a reputation for being a whiner. I’ve already gotten him noticed because I asked them if he could skip a practice to work on homework. (let me tell you, that’s going to go over like a lead balloon. “He has all weekend to do homework. He has to show up and practice his marching.” was the response I got to that!)
I’m sitting here with a miserable kid. He came home dejected and feels like he’s nothing. Part of that, I blame on the director asking him “are you going to pay attention this time?” and then giving him the warnings. In her defense, I don’t have her side of the story. I don’t know what happened from her pov, so I won’t get overly ugly on that part.
I’m just frustrated for my child. I have watched his hopes get dashed by the “you’re not good enough” and by not having support when I think he should have support. I’m now hearing that they aren’t doing much about helping him improve. Whether or not that’s true, it’s still bloody frustrating to me as a parent. This isn’t really a battle I can fight, but dammit, I want to come out swinging and ask questions later.
When did the band stop being “fun”, which my daughter experienced during her tenure in high school and when did it start being a job? I realize the kids sign up for band and they are expected to put effort into it, but when did it become their top priority, eclipsing all other things?