Authority without wisdom is like a heavy axe without an edge, fitter to bruise than polish. ~Anne Bradstreet
I’ve always been involved with Kyle in some fashion or another, on all aspects of his life. Was this a requirement for being Kyle’s Aunt Heather? Well, no, but in good conscience, yes. That was my choice made the day Kyle was born. (Honestly, I probably made that decision before then, when I saw the joy in Ryan’s eyes upon the anticipation of his son.) Regardless, some of my influences and involvement have been necessary. I always wanted to support Kyle in his interests, activities and friends, as well as his scholastic goals, his physical fitness, and most importantly his spiritual well-being. For no other reason than for him, not for my own pride, my personal gain or anything of the such. Being directly involved was the way I knew how to make this happen.
A few weeks ago, I received an email asking me to chaperon a Friday night football game for the band, and a Saturday night band competition. Apparently, there was a last minute cancellation from a chaperon due to an injury. Would I accept the challenge? Of course! Actually, I was beyond excited. Okay, perhaps I do have a little bit of personal gain in volunteering. What do I get out it? I not only get to assist, but I also receive the opportunity to see Kyle grow as a young man, and experience his happiness while doing something he loves and he’s proud of. That’s what makes it worth it.
Did Kyle know I was chaperoning? Nope. On my defense, neither did I until two days prior. I would have called Kyle to give him a heads up, but he was still going through this phase of not answering my text messages or my calls, so I thought the heck with him, he’ll see me when he does.
Was Kyle happy? Not in the slightest. It was a quick reminder those days of volunteering for the PTA, and participating in Santa’s workshop were over. Those were the good old days when Kyle would see me way down the hall in school, and he’d wave in desperation to get my attention. The days he actually would tell parents, students, teachers, everyone, I was his Aunt Heather, and was proud of it. The days he wanted to hang with me, and loved my involvement. Yep, while lining up to get ready for the parade prior to the game, I was reminded those days are long gone.
While the kids were arriving and putting the final touches on their uniforms, they retreated into smaller groups to practice. I was geared in my own Band Chaperon embroidered shirt. On a side note, this is how much I love Kyle. The shirts are canary yellow. Yellow! Anyone who knows me, is aware of my aversion, actually my revulsion for yellow. The school colors are blue and yellow, and I get why they chose the less desirable color because we stand out for the students, but yuck! Anyway, I never saw Kyle during all the confusion, that is until he was sporting his sousaphone. How could anyone miss that instrument?
Surprisingly, I knew one of the band parents from the PTA. In fact, she brought Kyle along with her son and another student. She told me she asked Kyle if I was chaperoning on Saturday, seeing my name on the list. Kyle’s response? “I don’t know.” That’s my little man.
Did I talk to Kyle? Of course, who couldn’t resist? Not wanting to make the night miserable for my sousaphone player, I kept my distance, but I had to acknowledge him at least once. Upon setting up in formation for the parade, (the band marched through town to the football stadium), I nudged his arm to say hello. Naturally, I was sporting a huge stupid grin. Kyle on the other hand looked confused and almost disgusted. Whatever. I was there not only to support him, but his fellow band members. I had a job to do!
I kept my promise to myself, and never called Kyle out, nor did I infringe on his personal space. Although, while we (the band parents) were passing out water to the students, Kyle tried to dodge past me. He literally ducked and weaved. I never saw such fancy footwork from that kid! Okay, now my maturity surfaced. I instantly leaned in his direction, to get his attention and said, “Kyle, don’t you need water? Kyle! KYLE!” That brought a huge smile to my face, as well as to a few students witnessing such a strange exchange. Kyle wouldn’t look up, he only shook his head and darted past me. Am I that repulsive?
Throughout the night, some of the other parents commented, that they couldn’t believe what a cold shoulder Kyle was giving me. I just shrugged and laughed it off.
The Saturday band competition was much of the same. The only difference, I was preoccupied helping out and Kyle, as well as the other students, were feeling the stress and anxiety of competition. It was a horribly rainy day and night. While standing in our rain gear, getting organized, I turned around to find I was in close proximity to Kyle the entire time! I had no idea, and I know he didn’t either, since my rain hood was up and I was wearing a YELLOW band raincoat. I wanted to say “Hi'” and leave it at that, but Kyle’s evasive demeanor pushed me to be a stinker. Again, I couldn’t help myself. I suddenly felt a desire to be irritating.
What did I do? Nothing terrible, at least not in my eyes. Standing beside Kyle was his fellow tuba player. I simply said hello to him, and he responded with a very polite hello back, albeit a little confused. I continued, “I’m Kyle’s Aunt Heather.” Kyle’s face was priceless. He started to laugh and look away, trying to escape the situation he knew was going to happen. I continued, “I’m Kyle’s really cool Aunt, even though he doesn’t know it and won’t admit to it.” Now the boy was flashing looks between Kyle and myself, wearing the biggest grin, mimicking my facial expression. He was such a nice kid, he only said, “Yeah, everyone has a cool Aunt.” Taking that as my cue, I replied, “Yeah! That’s me!” We laughed for a few seconds before moving along. I figured my job was complete. Kyle kept his face turned away from us, probably rolling his eyes.
Did Kyle ever mention that exchange to me again? Nope. And I don’t care, I wanted to be there with Kyle, and that’s that. I want to help celebrate his wins and support him with his losses. That’s what family does.
Kiski won first place at the Gateway competition. Right after the announcement, I searched the crowd for my little man. Surprisingly, I spotted Kyle among all those similarly dressed students instantly. He was hugging other students and celebrating their win. That’s a memory I filed away, for he was truly happy and I was proud of him.
I wanted someone to get a picture of the two of us, Kyle in his band uniform and I in my chaperon shirt, but I didn’t want to push the situation. Perhaps another time.
I hope I’m called upon to chaperon down the road. Some of the parents already asked if I could join them for Grand Nationals in Indianapolis. But alas, I’ll be goose hunting with dad and a few of his friends near Erie. I was thinking about heading out to Indiana after we were done hunting, but Kiski was scheduled to perform on Friday, the day of the hunt. Next time.
On another side note, I finally was formally introduced to Kyle’s band director. He sat behind me on the Gold bus. During our little bit of chitchat, I asked why he moved Kyle from the trumpet to the sousaphone. He said, “Honestly, Kyle was having a hard time hitting the high notes, but he’s a natural sousaphone player.” Good to know. Then, I shared with him, Kyle’s ability to play the piano and somewhat the guitar. He was surprised, not knowing this information. I’m not sure why Kyle refuses to admit to his talents, but I took care of that one too.
Kiski Marching Band is pretty stellar. They also have a great support team, which is so good for the kids. It’s also nice to see such family involvement. After the competition on Saturday night, we actually had a police escort all the way back to the school. Once the buses rounded the bend to the loading dock, the parents were lined up in their cars waiting for our champions. Illuminating the night, they held up these light spinners, and hoked their horns cheering on the band. Great support!
Good luck Kiski during Grand Nationals! You guys are truly talented!