The same child of mine who, for years, avoided a gymnasium like the plague, has become a social butterfly at the several-times-per-week high school games we now take part in. You should see it. It’s pretty remarkable. It’s the loudest and most boisterous place in town on any given weeknight, but I think the fact that the exact same thing happens every night eases that tension for him.
Jake is in the pep band. He MUST get there early, and he rarely misses a game. He plays the drums right in front of the band leader, Mr. Scally. He takes this job seriously. He keeps the beat, and seems to generally enjoy himself. During the drum rolls, his face gets all screwed up, the veins stick out on his neck and in his forearms, and he gives it everything he’s got! I think he really wants to be the kid who gets to use the big drum set. All in due time, we tell him.
He looked over his shoulder the other night and noticed a kid who only had a single drumstick, for whatever reason. Jake offered him an extra he had. The kid declined, but I was proud that Jake noticed and offered. When the band finishes, Jake sticks around to help lift the big speakers and amps onto the trolley for storage. He says he has to because he’s got such big muscles.
Once his role as drummer has been fulfilled, he likes to cross his arms and stand in the doorway with the Athletic Director and/or the Principal. He does this proudly.
After standing there for a few minutes, he makes his way (it’s the 3rd quarter by now) over to the “adult” side of the gym and glad-hands a few of the spectators. He takes special care to shake Blane’s hand, steal a sucker from Dana, and rub Tony’s head. He then looks around to see which mothers he wants to sit with and chat, and Angel usually tops that list. He flits around the crowd, working it with such practiced ease that I am forced to admit he’s much more popular than I am.
Last year, on his urging, I bought a raffle ticket for the half-court shot. He really wanted to sink that shot, and had been practicing at the middle school. We won a chance, and he nearly bailed when I approached him with our ticket and he realized that he must now stand before the entire gymnasium and attempt a half-court shot. He stood frightened for quite some time, and ultimately missed his chances, but I was so heartened by the support of the crowd. Everyone cheered him on and gave him more than enough time to work up the courage to try. It was a proud moment for the whole family.
Watch for him tonight. Watch for him between songs in the band. He has his headphones on the whole time – not his sound dampening headphones, but his Blu-tooth headphones for listening to his music. Whenever it’s NOT his turn, he grabs the video editing project du jour that he’s working on, and happily plugs away until it’s time to resume. He may even space out and do a little dance or act out a Godzilla scene over there on the bleachers, all by himself. I only wish I could be that self-assured in a crowded room. He either doesn’t know people are watching him, or he doesn’t care.
Hail alma mater!