Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new. ~Ursula K. Le Guin
Great job Kiski! Everyone worked really hard and it showed. I knew you guys could do it!
Saturday, the Kiski Area Marching Band participated in the Bands of America competition in Newark, Delaware. How did Kiski do? They took first place at preliminaries and second place overall, out of 27 top bands from the east coast. They brought it and then some.
While I chose not to chaperon the Delaware trip, I’ve been honored with chaperoning pretty frequently throughout the season for football games and competitions. Do I mind? Not at all! I love being involved with Kyle and supporting his interests and activities. Plus a big bonus, the band kids, the band parents and the staff are wonderful people who are working to make this group the best it can be for each and every child.
Does Kyle want me chaperoning? I really don’t think so, but the more I’m around the band, the more he’s acclimated to my presence, and the more he seems to accept it. I try to give him his space, but sometimes I just can’t help myself, I want throw big hugs and kisses his way. Trying not to overstep my bounds, I’ve ambushed him with a few hugs and a few waves, and certainly many shout outs during performances, but that’s it. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m showing restraint. I just love my sousaphone player and I’m very proud of him!
Now that Kyle’s older, sometimes it’s hard to see his Piper family influence. Then, a situation happens that shows his roots. Once being the Latrobe verses Kiski football game. It was at Latrobe.
I met the band at the Latrobe Memorial Stadium, which saved me a lot of driving. As I waited around, waited around, waited around, I had a sneaky suspicion they got lost. Knowing Kyle wouldn’t answer me, I texted him asking to give them some guidance to the stadium. Just then, I get a return text saying We’re here. While reading the message, the buses rounded the corner, everyone except for the equipment truck, who went to the high school.
Later I found out, during their travels a bus broke down and they got a late start. It happens.
To offer a very rare assistance, (I’m very directionally challenged) I let the parents know I’m a Latrobean and I know the area very well. In fact, I’ve traveled the route from Delmont to Latrobe too many times to count. In addition, I informed them they had a secret weapon among their group, Kyle. I made sure the parental crew was aware Kyle knows his way around Latrobe with absolute certainty, and if needed, they could lean on him to bring the entire marching band into Latrobe. That’s when I received news that melted my heart.
The one mom told me Kyle was on her bus offering his assistance letting her know he’s from Latrobe. That’s my little man! Naturally, she was confused until I explained that I’m from Latrobe and Kyle has always lived with us half-time, until the band consumed his weekends. (That brought a laugh from everyone. It’s true the band is very dedicated and they practice a lot, which builds good character.)
I’m glad Kyle is apart of this group, but I do worry about him. Not only in band, but in all aspects of his life. During the beginning of the season, a few parents mentioned to me that they were concerned for Kyle. Since the tragic passing of his friend Nick, Dealing With Loss. Kyle took it hard. Understandably. What really melted my heart, besides the idea of Kyle suffering inside, was the heartfelt thoughts and concerns from these parents that I hardly knew. They also stated an unknown fact, Kyle and Nick always sat together on the bus. My poor Kyle. What a constant reminder of the passing of a friend. A few parents confessed to trying to talk to Kyle about Nick, but Kyle brushed them off. I greatly appreciate their concern , and trying to ease Kyle’s pain. Thank you!
Moving past the sadness, now a funny story that might have indirectly helped Kyle. While I was in the auditorium between performance for the Gateway competition, I happened to stumble onto a conversation with a group of students in close proximity. Being a nice bunch, I couldn’t resist, I showed them my wallpaper of me and Kyle at Legofest on my iPad. The kids didn’t make fun of Kyle, but they were very excited to discover his childhood. Ironically, the one student took a picture of Kyle earlier on the bus sleeping. Naturally, I couldn’t pass it up, so I asked him to text it to me. That was my little man, he looked exhausted.
The following week for a Wednesday competition, I received another mysterious text message, another picture of Kyle. It kind of broke my heart. He was sitting by himself, not talking to anyone, simply looking out the window. It was almost a lonely picture. Granted, every student on the bus could have been in that mood, or it was for a brief moment, or Kyle needed some quite time, but it still emotionally got to me. I thanked the band member (I’m trying to keep names out) for the picture, saved it, and moved on.
Since my first encounter with those band kids, they’ve been calling me Aunt Heather, respectfully, and have been sharing stories about Kyle. Nothing malicious, simply fun interactions with Kyle, stories they knew I’d appreciate. Shortly after the previous picture was taken, the one kid told me he sat with Kyle on the bus. Smiling and acknowledging his actions, I was grateful. I don’t know if that’s what Kyle wanted, and I’m sure the student spoke of me during their bus ride, which Kyle probably wasn’t keen on, but it was a nice gesture.
Week after week, pictures began beeping across my phone showing a very different Kyle. He was sincerely enjoying himself. Several of those pictures of Kyle smiling and having a good time has since become my favorite. I don’t know if one action is tied to the next, but if Kyle’s happy, who cares?
Without chaperoning, I wouldn’t have known about the bond with Nick and Kyle, I wouldn’t have those behind the scenes pictures, and I wouldn’t be apart of Kyle’s life that means so much to him. Driving an hour to chaperon (plus going home), those long nights getting in late, and all day competitions were all worth more than I can verbally express. Plus, I’ve gotten to know some stellar people, band chaperons and band staff.
Keep in mind, I’m not the chaperone superhero, not even close. Those band parents, moms and dads, are really dedicated to their child(ren) and the band. They go way above and beyond, making soups, arranging lunches, back and forth to practices, fundraising, helping with the equipment, even assisting with field setup and exiting. They are extraordinary people. I’m blessed to know them and to have them around my beloved Kyle.