Tuba Update

Aren’t we done with this yet?

Well… maybe.

I wrote my four-page letter to the principal almost two weeks ago, and haven’t heard a single word from her, nor from the band director.  I haven’t heard a thing from anyone (except from LinkedIn, which notified me that the band director had viewed my profile, the same day that the principal received the letter… a coincidence?  I think not!), and so I am beginning to believe they have stopped trying to get him to switch instruments/quit.

I still need to get him an actual tuba to practice, and I can’t believe the help you all have given me.  It’s amazing, really, and makes me realize that the internet can be a very good place.  College band directors and nonprofits have been contacted by us, as well as on our behalf, and one of my readers here referred to tuba players as a “brotherhood,” and he said they take care of their own.  This brought me to tears (good ones!) because that is something I hoped for when The Boy began school band.  I saw it as a place he could belong, and meet neurotypical kids who were a little more likely to be accepting of him.

It also reminded me of when I was in the college marching band, in the piccolo section, and we traveled to Las Vegas for a bowl game.  The stadium continued to sell beer past halftime, and by the end of the game, the opposing team’s fans were incoherent, and several young men were actually threatening us, the piccolo section of the band!  The tuba section, all big, beefy boys left their seats to stand in the aisle between us and our bullies with their arms crossed.  It was a very brave and gallant gesture.

You helpers and supporters are lifting this boy up, in the face of someone who wants him out.

I feel very thankful.  We should have a tuba in the next week or two, and then I will ask to visit class to videotape so we can work on some modeling for The Boy, and help him to participate, which should have been the focus of all of our discussions from the beginning.  Keep sending us your positive thoughts, as now The Boy will need to get caught up!

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Managing My Own Anger

Yesterday was a doozy of a Monday.  I felt like Alexander in the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (a favorite when I was growing up).  There was an ant in The Boy’s juice, the cable box went wonky again, a co-worker lied to our boss and threw me under the bus for a mistake that was very clearly hers and hers alone.

And mid-afternoon I get an email from The Boy’s principal saying perhaps he could start on trumpet this week because he doesn’t meet the “criteria” to play the tuba.  Yeah, that just happened.

There were no “criteria” to play the tuba even mentioned at our last meeting.  That band director is discriminating against my child.

boy with tubaLuckily, I didn’t get the email until about 3 or so, because truthfully, I couldn’t concentrate on work after that.  I was extremely preoccupied, and downright pissed off.  Heart beating rapidly, I left work right at 5, and drove to pick up The Boy, planning my evening around the big, long response I was going to write.

The Boy was in a great mood, and I faked a good mood for him, as well.  I shared the happenings with my parents and strategized about next steps with them.

When we got home, I began to type all of the phrases that had been rolling around in my head for three hours, constructing my three-page response.  And I began to shake uncontrollably.  Not with rage, but with anxiety.  I also made several trips to the bathroom, which I have had to do when stressed since my mid-thirties.  When The Man came home an hour later, we talked, and strategized some more, and I continued to write.  I spoke with The Boy’s autism teacher on the phone to gain some insight, and then I continued to write.  The Man knows that getting all of my thoughts down just right in my response was the key to my calm.  Until it was a finished draft ready to send, it would be on my mind.

And of course, I couldn’t sleep last night.  I knew it would happen, but there’s nothing I can do about it, so I just roll with it, going over things yet again in my head for several hours.

My draft is now complete, and it is a killer letter.  I have a plan in place, no matter the response.  He will play the tuba, and will not be switching to anything else.  I’m still angry and anxious, but I’m managing it, thanks to my outlets: writing and planning.  The key is knowing yourself enough to know how you are going to respond to anger, both physically and mentally, and to have something accessible which calms you… A bit like our kiddos, huh?

Feeling the Love

That's my boy!Last night, The Boy had his first band concert of the year, and played music he has had for about two weeks on his new instrument, the tuba.  There was standing-room-only in the auditorium, and The Man and I watched from the back with The Boy’s grandparents.  We heard him play, as he is the only tubist in the 6th grade band, and we heard him play well.  And I was proud, listening to my boy do his best, and do it well.

It was a great concert, and after it was over, he was geeked, excited.  Once in the car, he went right for his DS (a re-discovered love, as it has been in the bottom of some drawer for a couple of years), but was giggly and goofy.  We had to pick up The Man’s truck, and he loves to ride in it with him, so I drove on alone for the few short miles to our house.

As the car started to climb the rise of the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway, I began to tear up with emotion as I realized how thankful I am for all that has happened in the past year.  Maybe it’s a little early for the annual retrospective, but it really has been a great couple of weeks.  Things were getting a little dark there for awhile, but now The Boy is in a much better place, school-wise (and a GREAT band program, to boot!), I have a new job that I love, and the very best husband ever.  And we’ve moved to a place where it reaches 70 degrees on the 5th of December, which also happens to be around the corner from the very best parents in the world.

Can you feel the love?  I sure can. ❤

That’s My Boy!

Tonight was The Boy’s first full-blown band concert.  He is in 5th grade and was able to start playing an instrument in band this year.  He wanted to play tuba, but settled for the baritone (euphonium) when they wouldn’t let him start on his first choice.  At first, I couldn’t get him to practice, but lately, it hasn’t been so difficult, especially when I play with him.

If you didn’t know, this is what I do all day long.  I teach band in middle school, and to have my own son finally have his chance to play an instrument has been an experienceMy kid has been that kid that doesn’t practice, and doesn’t turn in practice time, and forgets to bring his book home.  My kid. *sigh*

But tonight, he got to see the middle school and high school bands play, and he stayed in his seat, paying attention for the whole concert.

It’s huge.  I’m not just being that mom when I say he’s got a great ear, and I really should have started him on piano ages ago.  He plays stuff by ear from time to time, did really well with recorder last year, and in general loves music.

Tonight, the high school pep band played Seven Nation Army, which is a tune by the White Stripes.  The Boy knows this song because it’s on my iPod, but it starts with the tubas playing the melody, and he turned and caught my eye as soon as he heard it with this big, open-mouthed grin, and…  I turned into my mom (no offense, Mom!) — we always joked that she cried at parades (she really did), and there I was, tearing up because The Boy had a look of such pure joy at the sound of a tuba…

Anyway, this is him – the one in the center of the picture with the (fake) glasses and the green shirt, my budding musician, the star of my show:

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Congrats, Little Man, on what I hope is the first of many concerts!