Iron Boy


Marching is a Family Affair

Posted by Mary Webb on February 10, 2015 at 9:40 AM

My days are can generally be summed up as a colossal juggling act. Take Saturday for example. Christine kept Jory for me Friday night because Quentin had an early morning appointment the next day, and she had catechism. Mama kept him for me when he was down while I darted off to a half-day writing class that I'd booked before his appointment came up. My brother-in-law dropped Jory off there as well since I was still in class. Linda picked her up from dance for me because Q's game was still going on across town.

It really felt like I was playing Hot Potato with my children.

So, you can imagine how I relish the times when things just gel in the form of us all being in the same place at the same time. Sunday was like that because we've made marching for an auxiliary unit for our school a family affair. With the exception of dropping Quentin off at school at 8:30, so Jory and I could make 9 o'clock Mass, we were together the entire day. No worrying about who could keep whom until what time and how he/she would be collected, especially since a day parade turned into a night parade.

And, let me just say, other than making repeated treks from Uptown to Downtown on a bum ankle, when I was approached about being the Letter Carrier Coordinator, wondering where my kids would be while I was marching was my chief concern. It's obvious my family helps me a good deal, but I hate to impose on them over and over again, especially in short time spurts.

The first part of that problem was solved when my colleague, who heads the cheerleaders, asked me if Jory could be her mascot. If Jory was game, so was I. Of course, this was before I knew, my girl was pimping my child for compliments. She told me on the route Sunday that if she had a dollar for every time someone commented on Jory's cuteness, she could go on a vacation next week. I should have thought of the whole mascot thing before she did.

But, I digress.

Next thing I knew, Quentin's services were being solicited for band. When our former band director asked me about Quentin participating as a color guard, I was a little torn. Of course, there was part of me that wanted him to be a member of the band. Another part of me started to decline. How would he make it from start to finish with all his medical issues? I figured I should let him because he really wanted to. Again, if he was game, I should be, too. So it wouldn't be too taxing, though, he said he'd wait until January to have Quentin start practicing.

But then, we had a band director change just weeks before the carnival season began. In fact, it happened days before we were slated to perform in the MLK Day parades. So, for the Friday one at the school, I had to drop Quentin off to Mama.

"But, you said we were going to do this as a family," he accused. Reasoning fell way short with him. I was supposed to find a way to make good on my word. He ended up doing it before I could.

Two school days later, following a mandatory parent/sponsor meeting, Quentin asked the new band director himself for a spot in the band. He kept telling me he would, and I kept trying to dissuade him. Who would agree to this with the start of Mardi Gras season just two weeks away?

And yet when Quentin marched right up to the new guy and asked, the band director said, "Sure!" Disclosing Quentin's medical history to him didn't deter him, either.

Because I felt like he'd been put on the spot, I informed him that Quentin had been promised a color guard spot, so no need to try to help him learn an instrument. But he said he didn't mind giving him an instrument. As he said, he'd work his "magic" despite the looming start to the season. The rest was easy negotiating. Quentin said drums. I said too many people played that. The band director suggested a horn. I responded with trumpet. Quentin agreed.

In one day's time, though, he came home with a trombone.

"I didn't know how to play the trumpet," he explained.

I didn't know you knew how to play the trombone, either, I responded in my mind.

I let it go, and days later just basked in the beauty of all of us in some form of Lions uniform. Quentin was so excited the morning Little Rascals was to roll. Almost like Christmas Day. Jory was so gracious about inviting him into the fold. In fact, one of her thankfuls that morning was her brother getting to march in his first parade.

It didn't take long for reality to hit him, however. We started the parade behind Clearview Mall. He was in the van shortly after we got to Veterans. According to his band director, he quit, and he wasn't trying this ever again. Because I thought it was a physical limitation, I just said it is what it is. I was okay with him thinking I was a pansy-ass who helicoptered over her male child, too, because there's something to be said for letting Quentin call some shots. I'm not the one who had cancer or any of the other things, so I can't be the one to say what he can and cannot do.

But then, a parent came and made me aware of Quentin's real feelings. He was frustrated because he couldn't get his steps right, and he said people were pushing him. I took a quick jog to the van and hopped on. As soon as he saw me, he went into a full-blown explanation. I stopped him quick.

"Quentin, you can't expect that you're going to be perfect the first time you've ever marched. And, you can't expect that the people around you aren't going to try to correct you. You wanted to march. You have to decide for yourself if you're going to continue or not."

Meanwhile, Jory marched like a boss. Not even the rain that poured down on us could stop her shine.

This Sunday gone, I thought it would be a repeat of events. It was, and it wasn't. We had a painfully long wait, as in three hours. A start time of 4 when he'd been at school since 8:30 would have drove me, so I tried to empathize with him as I watched his face contorting into all kinds of anguish. And, these were the real deal parades, not even starting at Napoleon and Magazine, but at Jefferson and Tchoupitoulas. Surely, he'll have hung it up by the time we make it to Napoleon, I thought.

But no one came and told me anything. I held off checking on him because I didn't want to give him a reason to give up. Just before Jackson and St. Charles, I decided to check in. His band director said he had just gotten into the van. I cheered. Then, I tried to ignore that discouraged look I imagined he was shooting me. When we've come from where we've come, getting that far is a huge feat.

Meanwhile, Jory marched like a boss again. She is really in her element out there on the route with all eyes on her, sort of like a young Bey. Not even the length, the blister that formed on her pinkie toe or the bigger kids who were practically falling out around her could stop her shine.

Turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong about the band director's thinking because when we got back to school, he told me to make sure Quentin took his vitamins.

"You know, I think he did pretty good. He got further than I thought he would. I know that's not the standard you have for your band members, but it was good enough for me," I said, fighting to keep the defense out of my voice.

"To be honest, he surpassed my expectations," he said. "But, still make sure he takes his vitamins."

"I will," I said, fighting to keep the pride out of my voice.

Later, Quentin told me that he got back out and finished the route. I'm not sure where this happened. I am sure that I am every bit as proud of him making it to the end as I am of baby girl making from start to finish.



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