This afternoon I drove across town to attend a mandatory parent's meeting for the honor band that Max is participating in. Honor band is sort of like a school band, minus the school. It's a pretty sweet deal, especially for a homeschooled kid. Music nerds, unite!
Most of the meeting went over various fundraising opportunities (as if anyone actually think of these as "opportunities." If we were to extend this use of the word, we would have to talk about root canal opportunities and tax bill opportunities too, people). Toward the end, the subject changed to the requirements needed to move up to the next level. This touched off an unprecedented level of parental sharing.
One mom piped up, "I'm CERTAIN that my daughter is ready for intermediate band. CERTAIN. Who do I talk to?"
"I KNOW," another mom broke in, "my daughter was ready in the middle of last semester. Seriously. I don't want her BORED, you know? We deal with that enough in school."
"My son auditioned for advanced band, and he was placed in SYMPHONIC band," a dad shared. "We were...well, not SURPRISED, but happy!"
And so it went for a while.
I listened, but only with half attention. Max is in beginning band, and I don't really know if he's ready for intermediate. Don't really care. He and his teachers will work that out, I suppose. And eventually he'll move up, but from my position it sounds pretty much the same. Unaccompanied saxophone squawks do not really enchant at either beginning or intermediate levels.
It may not sound like it, but I'm not actually judging these proud parents. The truth is, I'm lucky. I know it doesn't matter which band Max is in, because I know his achievement is not a measure of his worth. Tomorrow I take him to the Children's Hospital for an EEG to figure out if the...episodes of weirdness he's been experiencing are seizures. I've been studiously avoiding Dr. Google, for obvious reasons, and steadfastly refusing to think about it until we have some actual information.
But I can't help this: I look at him when he's not watching, and hope so hard that he's okay that I forget to breathe for a moment. And I don't care if he ever plays in intermediate or advanced or any band at all. I just want him to be Max. To be okay, and to be Max. He's the only one who can swing that, after all.
I think about a dear friend's child, as bright and accomplished and beautiful as any parent could hope for, who is basically fighting for her life tonight. I don't care what she ever accomplishes ever again. Be okay. Be your precious self.
I know I've been the other parent before, it's too easy. I've slid my children's talents and abilities on like they were my own to wear. I've turned, just so, to be sure others could see and admire (no one does, not really, you know). I've forgotten the truth underneath what they can do.
Move up to the next level or don't. Play your saxophone, play your flute, play whatever lights you up inside. Find your way and please. Oh please. Just be okay.