I go to a lot of high school football games — way more than I attended when I was in high school — because Ian is the marching band.
Ian is not an enthusiastic member of the marching band. Alright, let’s just say it. He hates it. He only weighs 122 pounds, has low muscle tone, and flat feet. He plays percussion, where every instrument other than the cymbals weighs about 1/3 of his body weight.
There are hours and hours of practicing and waiting around. This week alone, he’s practiced every day during his music period. He has a game tonight where he won’t get home until about 10:30 (he leaves for school at 7:00 am). Tomorrow, he has four hours of practice in the afternoon. Sunday, he has a full day marching band festival. If he makes it through the weekend without yelling at an adult, there will be a fat STEAM gift card waiting for him.
This year, he got stuck with the big bass drum. Because he can’t see over the drum, his legs are one big black and blue mark from tripping. He fell over a curb the week before and cut open his chin. He has shin splints from all the time on his feet. Steve rigged some padding around the harness, because he had bruises on his chest.
Because Ian attends a very small school, the music director made marching band mandatory for all students. Without that rule, there would be no kids with their trumpets or flutes in the stands.
Steve and I aren’t football people. We’re only at these Friday night games to support our kid. We’ve gotten into the habit of finding a dive bar near the game, pounding a couple of beers, and eating wings for dinner. Then we show up half drunk by the end of the second quarter. We’ll be doing that tonight.
Football, in some ways, is the same as it ever was. Touchdowns and fumbles. The crazy parent yelling on the top of their lungs. Kids sneaking out the hole in the fence to drink and vape between plays. But somethings are different.
One major positive change is that there is a greater diversity of body types among the cheerleaders. They’re not all beautiful and skinny. I have to say that watching those girls always makes me smile.
Last week, we met up with a friend for our pre-gaming ritual. His kid was playing marching band for the opposing team. He said that his school doesn’t have enough football players anymore, so they’re going to have merge their team with another nearby town. The boys in his school are all on the soccer team instead.
With Ian’s injuries this year, I think we’re going to let him step away from his music program for his senior year. It will free up time in his schedule for another computer class. So, tonight’s game might be his last game ever (if they lose, there won’t make it to playoff tournaments).
I’m semi-sad about it, because it will mark another end of a parenting era. Also, I’ve come to enjoy the pre-game beer and wings, the moms in their bulky sweatshirts selling candy and pretzels in the club house, and the strange, quirky world of marching bands.