“Mooooom,” she gently (really?) chided. I had carried my purse and lunch and all of the things into the front with me again, like I was going to put them on the passenger seat. The place where I’ve been putting my purse and books and box of tissues and all manner of things since time out of mind. But now a certain twelve-year-old is finally tall enough and heavy enough and old enough to qualify for front-seat status. And if you think she didn’t jump right on that the first day she could, well, you just don’t know Gracie.
I’ve gotten better. It’s almost automatic for me to open the back driver’s-side door and leave my detritus on the seat. You, meanwhile, still beam at me from the front seat, like you’re sitting upon a throne. It’s a big change for both of us, and I love to see your smiling face. I love that such a small change can set your world on fire with all the smiles that ever were. You’ve been chattier since the move. Much more prone to comment on bad drivers. And I’ve lost my advantage in spotting orange/yellow/green cars for sure! Gosh, Gracie – what am I going to do? Sitting in the front seat, walking with your friends to the park without a parental, going to the mall (as long as you check your phone every five minutes)… all of this growing up seems to come so fast, and out of nowhere, too. I’m ready for it because you are so clearly ready for it.
And boy, are you. Last night was band “tryouts”. These tryouts weren’t to see whether you’d make the cut, they were for each junior high kid who had selected band for an elective to try out a couple instruments to see with which instrument they had the most success. For her top three, Gracie had selected trumpet, french horn, and percussion. She tried trumpet first, and did fairly well. She had a little trouble making the buzzing sound with pursed lips and then blowing hard through the mouthpiece. The band teacher who was helping her seemed like a quieter, mousier version of Ned Flanders, but someone who was dedicated to band and teaching the students. He gave her a couple of tricks and Gracie got a sound to come out of the mouthpiece, and then the actual trumpet. I had Beirut songs playing in my head as I envisioned everything I could get Gracie to learn to play!
Then Gracie moved on to French horn. She couldn’t for the life of her get a sound to come out of the mouthpiece. I could tell she was nervous, but didn’t say anything. She had to learn to get used to this on her own. I think, too, that Mr. BandGuy had thrown her when he said to rest the mouthpiece more on her upper lip, and barely touch the bottom. In any case, when he put the mouthpiece in the French horn, Gracie got good, BIG sounds out of it and Mr. BandGuy’s eyes lit up! He gave her a 4 of 5 for French horn and said he thought she was born to play it.
We were all set and ready to go when I had to ask, “Since we’re here, do you mind if Gracie just tries percussion?” Mr. BandGuy stammered a moment, because he had found Gracie’s instrument and why? He didn’t ask it out loud, to his credit. I just wanted Gracie to have the opportunity. When else would she have the chance to try instruments and get feedback from those who teach them? So he called over the percussion teacher and off we went. Mr. Percussion was very enigmatic, younger (40s?), and you could tell he enjoyed teaching kids this age. He had Gracie start off by foot stomping to keep the beat. He said he’d be watching to see how precisely she kept time, and if she could repeat beats as she did so. he started tapping out a beat on the desk, and she had to repeat it. It started out easy, and then progressed. She got a “Good!” or “Great!” or “Wow!” after each one as he started making tunes up to keep up the difficulty. “She’s the first kid who’s come through here this year who repeated it all back perfectly,” he told us. Gracie got a perfect score.
I asked how it worked – did they sort her into drums or horn based on their needs? Like, if they had eight drummers and no horns, would she be horns? Nope, he told me – Gracie had to choose. And she chose drums. Dreams of Gracie learning all the Tori Amos songs died in my head. The upside (uh, besides how flipping cool drums would be) is that Mr. Percussion would be teaching her every single day from the start of seventh grade until she graduated. He was the percussion teacher for all of it, and the continuity meant the sky was the limit for her, as far as how far she progressed. She’d get to learn a bunch of instruments – everything in the percussion family, and some keyboards, too. I asked about what was required at home, and he started talking about practice pads and sticks and mallets and how I shouldn’t be too worried about how expensive it all was because it was an investment through high school. …. That gave me a bit of pause. But then I through a number out there for the practice pad and he laughed and apologized for the upsell and said that would cover ALL the gear and books.
So. My almost-junior high student will be a drummer in a rock band. It surprised the hell outta me, but my baby’s gotta follow her heart. There’s no better time to explore all your different likes and wants and maybes. And my job is to support her and buy her
crap what she needs to figure herself out.
Oh, and to remember to put my stuff in the back seat. Because, Mooooooomm. Really, really.