This year our first child joined her high school marching band and dragged the rest of the family with her. One does not simply join the marching band… you enlist. Number One didn’t follow in her father’s footsteps by playing the clarinet or saxophone. Nor did she take after her mother and learn to play the violin. Instead she decided to learn to play the flag.
The flag is not an easy instrument to play. The difference? Let’s just say that back in my day I never repeatedly hit myself in the head and face with a saxophone. Plus, during some parts of the halftime show, the tiny dancer has to switch from flipping her flag in the air to flipping swords and rifles in the air. I’m often in awe of how well armed the flag corp is.
The band parents of this huge band are an amazing group of volunteers. From piccolo to percussion the parents are a tidal wave of energy that keeps the rest of the band focused on marching and dodging flying swords. Logistically and financially, the volunteer army is in a constant battle that doesn’t end until the marching band season does.
With two more kids moving up to high school in the next few years, one with a saxophone and one with a baritone, we realize we are surfing this tidal wave for the long haul. There are countless ways to help out and Shannon and I have found a few that make us feel valuable and that we somewhat enjoy: chaperoning at practices, Bun Squad, and concession stand duty.
Chaperoning practices is one of the easiest ways to volunteer. It takes three hours of your time, but other than filling coolers with ice water and lugging the first aid kit around there is nothing to do except watch the giant children practice and thank Father Time that you aren’t having to undergo a grueling three hour practice. There are comfy lawn chairs just for the hard working chaperones to rest their weary, middle aged bones. Any volunteering that requires a lawn chair is all right in my book.
Bun Squad is a the super cool name we made up for ourselves since we volunteered to pick up all the hamburger and hotdog buns needed for each home game. Originally the name came about as a way to try and embarrass our flag and weapon twirling daughter. I used to collect baseball cards and later I took up sailing, but neither of those brings me as much joy as my newest hobby- daughter embarrassing or DE.
In this classic example of DE, I was taking the lack luster job of hauling bread and re-branding it as more of an over-the-top paramilitary style food delivery unit. To seal the deal, after transporting a minivan’s worth of bread, we reported the successful delivery on the band’s Facebook page by posting “Bun Squad delivery complete.” Much to our delight a few days later we were crossing the high school campus and a band parent hailed us by calling out “Hey, Bun Squad!” The DE cherry on top will be the Bun Squad logo (pictured above) that we’ll be ironing on shirts to wear for the next delivery day.
That leaves the concession stand. The concession stand is a marathon blur of junk food and money flying in all directions during four quarters of high school football. Aside from the giant pickles, there was nothing in the whole building I could eat. It’s for the best since you have to pay for the overpriced food being fed to the fans. No hot dogs or hamburgers or cheese covered nachos… no buttery pretzels or buttery popcorn or buttery pizza… and no desire to eat the junk at all.
People asked how I felt about wrapping burgers and pouring nacho cheese all night long. I think they expected me to be getting the shakes from intense craving due to over exposure. Instead I felt a little guilty. I kept looking at the cheese burgers and peperoni pizza being bought by the bagful and knowing that it wasn’t what any of the crowd should be eating. All night long I watched people from my community wolf down the terrible foods that we were selling them. In a way I felt no better than Ronald McDonald.
Then I allowed myself to have a reality check. For decades I ate worse junk than the concession stand sells and in much greater quantities. Back then I could eat a family sized burger and pizza combo and then wash it down with nacho cheese. It took a lot of education, practice, and gumption to be the compassionate, eco-health veganaut that I am today. I try to remember my flawed beginnings so I never forget that we are all on our own path to enlightenment, and just because others are not on the same path does not mean we are not on the same journey (quote by either the Dali Lama or Lady Gaga).
Plus, in my opinion, to be a true vegan you would never ride an animal that does not want to be ridden- so I am not going to even try to saddle up one of those free spirited high horses that some people ride around on.
I might imagine a day when fruit cups and garden salads replace candy bars and Pixie Stix but I’m not going to bulldoze unwanted change into the middle of this football season. I believe that you catch more flies with agave nectar than you do with vinegar and I have about six years of being a band parent left.
I’d love to stay and chat but Number One is slipping in Chemistry and Shannon and I have some dance moves we need to practice. If the young lady bombs another test her parents will be performing the Black Eyed Peas favorite, My Humps in front of the cafeteria during her lunch period. Just playing the song after dinner has her running for her flash cards. Still, we need to be prepared.
Bun Squad Alpha, out.