Sunday, January 7, 2018

Why I Don’t Sit In The Car

So - many of you know that my daughter is in high school marching band, which is pretty cool considering that her parents actually met in high school marching band.

We have almost 170 kids in our high school marching band.  It has genuinely surprised me the the small percentage of parents who actively volunteer on a REGULAR BASIS.  It truly takes a village to raise a marching band.  There are uniforms to be fitted, altered, washed, and stored.  There are trucks that need to be loaded and unloaded.  There’s water that needs to be handed out; props to be assembled and put in place; bus loads of kids to be chaperoned; first aid to be administered. The sheer logistics of moving and assembling a 170 member marching band to a game, parade, or competiton is staggering.

Tonight at a gathering of friends, a very active band parent said “How can people sit in their cars and watch as other parents unload everything?”  Another parent said “It must not be that hard, because most of the parents do it.”  The reality of the situation is that, out of 167 kids - probably 135 households/families - only about 30 volunteer on a regular basis.  Less than 20%.

Now - I get that people have work obligations. Home obligations. Financial obligations. Not everyone has the flexibility to be available as much as others.  However, I don’t think there is ANY EXCUSE for sitting in your car, watching others help unload from the activity that your kid participates in.  You are ALREADY THERE, and it doesn’t cost anything to get out of the car and say “Hey - what can I do to help?”

Part of me is angry at these people for/not helping more.  But another part of me is really sad.  Here’s why...

My kid loves band.  She’s not the most talented or the best leader, but she LOVES being a part of the band.  She loves being a relatively anonymous part of a huge organism - something that functions as a whole, a sum of it’s very different parts.  She LOVES IT.  I put that in CAPS because honestly, my beautiful brilliant, amazing daughter is a logical creature at heart, and she doesn’t really exhibit passion for much.  She loves books. And she loves this marching band.

My daughter is my heart - I love her/more than words can say - but her personality is closer to my husband’s than to mine.  She leans more introvert, whereas I am a very obvious extrovert.  I love her, and she loves me, but we don’t necessarily have a lot in common.  But she LOVES BAND.  And I did too.

I played clarinet in middle school, and then switched to French Horn/Mellophone in high school.  I also loved band.  It was a huge part of my high school (and college) experience, so I relate to how much she loves it.

Back to volunteering.  I volunteer because my kid LOVES BAND.  Do I love cleaning up gross water bottles from under the stands? NO. Do I love riding a hot school bus with 45 teenagers? NO. Do I love hauling props out on to a field in 90 degree heat? NO.

But you know what?  MY KID LOVES BAND.  Teens don’t necessarily relate to adults that well, and in general teens get a bad rap.  But our band kids are way too busy to get in much trouble.  They have to maintain good grades and good behavior to stay in band, and the practice and performance schedule doesn’t leave the much time to get into trouble.  These kids are kind of the anti-typical teen...they work hard, they are polite, and they keep their noses clean.  They are truly a great, hard-working group of kids.

I volunteer because my kid loves the band.  And if my volunteering helps keep one kid out of trouble, then that’s awesome.

What has really surprised me is the number of friends we’ve made through the Band Boosters.  I had no idea that that my kid’s activities would result in our meeting some amazing families, several of which I hope to be friends with for years to come.

So why sit in the car? Get out. Say “Hey - where can I help?” You’ll not only get a unique and special insight into your otherwise cryptic teenager...you may also meet some awesome people.

Volunteering isn’t always what you think it is, and it can be more rewarding than you can imagine.

That’s why I get out of the Car.

2 comments:

Sathya said...

Thank you for this wonderful sharing.

Laxman S said...

I’m really impressed with your article, such great & usefull knowledge you mentioned here
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