Now, as a band mom, I feel it is my duty to chaperone. Not every occasion, but some. (We should all share the responsibilities). I agreed to chaperone my son's high school band & chorus competition to Hershey, Pennsylvania, where they competed for several honors against bands from all over the country.
The funny thing is I was nervous. I wasn't worried about the competition. I knew the band and chorus had this. I was excited to go to Hershey Park. I love rides. I was nervous because I didn't know any of the adults I was traveling with. I'd be rooming with a stranger. What if they were smelly or mean or just plain whacko?
My son and I got to the school at 6:10 AM. We said our goodbyes to my daughter and husband before beginning our preparation for take off. We were taking a 6 hour trip on 2 buses with 110 other people. He went to do his thing and I started introducing myself to the other chaperones. It turned out I knew 2 of the parents going on the trip, and I liked them. Sweet!
Kids started dribbling in, backpacks, luggage, pajama pants and sleepy faces galore. I asked the chaperones if they knew which kids they were responsible for. They informed me the lists were sent on an email 2 days ago. OOPS! I didn't get it. I felt like a schmuck. I was reassured I'd get a list before we got on the bus. We did get a whole packet with everything we needed. It was very organized and had multiple lists which were easy to navigate. It even had a bus list. I scanned the list and noticed I was on bus 2 and my son was on bus 1. Hmmmm?
Now, you have to know my son, He is smart, handsome and very sweet but not always the brightest bulb on the tree. He is blonde. 'Nuf said. (Just kidding. I am a natural strawberry blonde so I can say that. He gets his dopiness from me). I told him when he told me they were signing up for buses to make sure he and I were on the same bus. I went to find him to ask what happened. He just looked at me with a dumb look on his face and shrugged "I don't know". At that point the buses were loading and it was controlled chaos. I just shook my head and sighed, kissed him goodbye and walked away. He began to load the bus and yelled, "Mom, I don't have any snacks". (Heavy sigh). What I wanted to do was look at him with the same dumb look and shrug my shoulders, but I am a sucker. I packed up half the snacks I'd packed for him and gave them to him then proceeded to my bus.
We hit the road, teens in tow. Several minutes into the ride we started watching "Frozen". Remember, we are traveling with band and CHORUS kids. Need I say more? If you haven't seen Frozen yet, it is full of beautiful songs that quickly become ear worms. "Let it go! Let it go!..." Sorry...Anyway, we were beautifully serenaded during the movie and many times after that on the bus.
My seat mate and I got along great, which was a good thing because she was stuck with me for the whole trip. The director paired up the chaperones, rooming together as well as dually responsible for our list of kids. She was my "buddy". We were quite compatable, with a similar sense of humor. She was neither smelly nor mean. I'd have to reserve judgment on the whacko part until later.
We arrived at our hotel, got the kids unpacked and chilled for a few hours before dinner and the band director imposed "Forced Family Fun". This turned out to be quite funny. The kids had to do a skit including someone portraying an animal and 2 others being inanimate objects. They also had to utilize a word given to them by the chaperones. The words were ridiculous like canoodle, tragus and phlebotomy. They all did a great job. It was our job to judge them and just as we were leaving some smart ass pipes up and asks "What about the chaperone skit"? Well, the entire ballroom started chanting "Chaperone skit! Chaperone skit!" while banging the table or clapping. We were forced into a performance. Damn little brats! (Haha! Just kidding). They even picked a word for us.
I am not fluent in urban slang. Let's just say I got an education that night. Apparently a ratchet is NOT just a kind of wrench thingy.
We did it anyway. Our skit was a big success. After that, the kids had a dance party with a DJ and black lights and the whole shebang. I'll admit, I got my groove on a little. It was fun.
The next day was competition day. The kids were decked out in their tuxedos looking fine. It was really cool to see my son with all his friends hanging out, dressed to the nines. Both the band and chorus performed well.
There are two things that stick out in my mind about this day. In between performances we were given boxed lunches from Panera Bread. I sat with the chaperones and ate my delicious sandwich with a pickle. I took the chips out of the box and to my great surprise I saw a little parchment bag nestled in the bottom. Could it be? It was! My favorite.....their SHORBREAD COOKIE! I could see its glorious diamond cuts peeking through the paper. Oh JOY! Oh BLISS! I was so excited by this sweet little nugget. "OOH! A shortbread cookie!" I think I yelled it because all the chaperones looked at me then started laughing. I think they were laughing because they couldn't believe I'd get so excited over a cookie. They were catching on to my endless appetite and insatiable sweet tooth. I think by that point they'd seen me eat 3 brownies in 24 hours, equally excited by each one. MMM...brownies.... Anyway, I ended up with 5 of these delicious little gems which I got by thieving 2 from my son and accepting the kind donations of others. I squirreled them away for later.
The other thing that stood out was the kindness of the teens we were responsible for. They sat in the auditorium listening to their competition with respect. They clapped for everyone and even gave standing ovations when outstanding musicianship was noted. The most moving moment was when a small band dressed in street clothes played. The band was struggling to do well. The final song was upbeat, a kind of rock arrangement. Our kids started clapping along with the beat. The whole room joined in. I think the intent was to let them know we appreciated what they were doing and the song was cool. I was so impressed with these kids through out the trip, but at that moment I was reassured that compassion lives in all of us, including teenagers. It's our choice to tap it or not. Teens get a bad rap, but I found the kids I was with were responsible and respectful with drive, determination and compassion for each other and strangers.
Our group went on to win several awards including the Esprit de Corps trophy, recognizing proper social behavior as well as musical behavior and encouragement. It was a proud moment for everyone.
So, the bottom line here is this; Don't let your fears stop you. I was afraid to go on this trip, but it turned out to be a wonderful experience. Have fun in life. If we weren't forced to do the skit, we would have missed out on a lot of laughs and some great memories that will last a lifetime. Believe the best of your teens. They are more caring, mature and responsible than we give them credit for. Enjoy your life. Eat the cookie! Eat the brownie!
Oh, I almost forgot. My roommate was neither smelly, nor mean nor whacko. She was awesome!