I’m the chaperone who demands candy

Over the years, Otto and I have worked out a system for being Involved Marching Band Parents, and it’s served us pretty well. My responsibilities include working in the concession stand whenever we have a home game (after my baptism by fire three years ago I somehow ended up a permanent fixture in there), assisting with the mad scramble that is uniform fittings/distributions in August, helping with fundraisers, and dropping everything to show up at any rehearsal where a child of mine has completely lost their crap and requires an intervention (fun!). Otto’s responsibilities include most rehearsal pick-ups and rides home for orphan children in addition to our own, chaperoning away games, and taking lots and lots of photos of the band (much to Chickadee’s chagrin). Because we are team players, we split the “talking smack about the parents who never ever bother to volunteer” task evenly between us.

Now that Duncan has to eat every few hours, Otto stays home for home games and I stay home for away games. And while Otto chaperoned our first competition this season, I felt like maybe I should do the second one (even though I typically do not ride school buses!), so this past weekend, I did. I rode on a school bus. (Not with my own children. HEAVENS NO. They were on their own buses.) I ran around adjusting uniform hems. I doled out meals and snacks and gave Monkey money for funnel cake and cheered until I was hoarse and gave up my sweatshirt when it got cold after dark because SOMEONE left theirs on the bus. Also, I saw teenagers eating Sour Patch Kids on the way there and said one of the kids’ names in a VERY STERN VOICE and when she turned to me—worried she was in trouble—I asked if I could have some. It’s remarkably effective.

The kids did great and I woke up the next morning with ebola. Or a cold. Whatever. I HAVE BUS FLU. Still: worth it.

While I drink all the tea in the world and attempt to recover, I have a semi-serious (okay, mostly serious) post over at Alpha Mom today answering all of the questions you never knew you had about DBT, because… just because. DBT is good stuff when life is hard. Maybe you don’t have any band kids to give you Sour Patch Kids; I don’t know. I don’t judge.


  1. Amy

    It’s really astonishing the amount of hand sanitizer that I use now considering that when I was in marching band, I ate and drank after every single person in the band (mostly, I mean, come on, I didn’t dare drink after drummers). You obviously need to ride the band bus more to build up your immunity :-).

  2. pharmgirl

    <–just returned from Alpha Mom

    Excellent post – and applicable to just about everyone. (It fit my particular demons like a glove)

    Thanks, Mir.

  3. LizD

    Really like the discussion about DBT. Food for thought!

  4. Lauren

    SO glad to hear DBT has been a helpful thing. I remember corresponding with you (which sounds oddly formal, like I’m your tax attorney) about it briefly right around when Chickie was diagnosed, and am thrilled to hear it’s been a positive thing for some/all of you.

  5. K

    Big, big fans of DBT here. Whenever I find myself wishing that we didn’t have the circumstances that led us to discover DBT….I remind myself, “but then we wouldn’t have DBT! And DBT has helped us all!” (And the “DearMan” skill alone has improved my negotiation skills tenfold…yes, I steal my daughter’s worksheets. good stuff in there.)

  6. Carrie

    I approve of your approach to procuring bus candy, and I am intrigued by DBT – as someone with ADD parenting an ADD almost-tween, we have lots of big uncontrollable feels in this house that lead to behavior that drives everyone insane (who knew that a verbally gifted child could be reduced to loud angry grunts by the mere mention of screen time being almost over?). I’m off to look into this more. Thanks!

  7. Jen

    Band tour flu in college was one of the worst flus I’ve ever had. I think buses are stellar petri dishes. Never seen anything like it.

  8. TC

    So I don’t understand why anyone would call DBT ‘extreme’. What’s extreme about it? It also doesn’t sound that radical. I feel like I’m missing something…and yet, it’s clear that it’s been useful to you, and it makes absolute sense, so I’m all for it!

    • Mir

      Typically DBT incorporates “homework” and a lot of calls to use specific (learned) coping methods in real time, plus it’s typically supported with group therapy that meets more often than “regular” therapy. I did it in individual therapy (kind of a crash course in “teach me what my kid is supposed to be learning”) and we did it with a (thick) workbook. It’s a big time commitment to do properly. People who just sometimes have a few uncomfortable feelings may feel like it’s overkill, I guess.

  9. SK

    Ouch–parents who don’t “bother” to volunteer? Maybe I’m just feeling the working-mom blues right now but not everyone has time to “drop everything” (like, um, WORK) to go help with marching band. Jeez, cut folks a little slack. It’s great that you have time to volunteer in the middle of the afternoon, but many of us don’t have jobs that give us that luxury. We sure don’t need any nasty jabs thrown at us.

    • Mir

      SK, spending 12+ hours at a competition is an extreme commitment and I realize some folks work on the weekends. From volunteering with the band extensively, I know that there are opportunities for folks to help out not just at games and competitions, but other times of the day/week as well. As a regular volunteer I also sometimes see kids crying (actually crying!) about how their parents never show up. I’m not referencing people whose schedules are less flexible and can’t volunteer as often, I’m talking about people who never show up for anything. And even in that group, of course there are people who legitimately can’t… but there are more people who show up for the end-of-year banquet (miraculously free when their help isn’t needed) and then complain about how things are done (even though they never helped).

      Just as there are people like you (who I assume can’t help for legitimate reasons) there are plenty of people like I just described, and sometimes joking about them takes the sting out of the extra hours we put in. It is not meant as a “nasty jab.”

      (And just for the record, I regularly work the concession stand from 4-11 after working at my actual pay-the-bills job from 7-3:30. My husband gets on a bus full of teens at 4:00 after teaching all day. Most of our volunteers have jobs and busy lives. This is not a working vs. non-working thing.)

  10. SharonK

    nobody knows another person’s whole story. however, it always made me sad too when, as a scout leader, i’d hear a child saying to another something like “yeah, i didn’t want to go camping, but mom and dad made me go because they wanted to get rid of me for the weekend” …..and that mom and dad only came to the scout events where there was free catered food – if it was potluck, they’d bring a half empty bag of chips. so, no, it wasn’t just “kid grousing”.
    so, you make sure to say something pleasant to that child, and you assume you don’t know the whole story, but yeah, you have to make a joke somewhere to another adult to keep from crying. during scouts, we never celebrated our birthdays or anniversary without tents full of boys around us. my husband works full time. i work part-time – that’s how a woman ends up scoutmaster for boy scouts, if you wondered…not because i love algebra.
    definitely didn’t make us saints. definitely didn’t make our kids saints, but, it’s a dirty job and somebody’s gotta do it.
    just, if you can’t do anything, even once or twice, and i fully agree that not everyone can for very legitimate reasons, be sure to say thanks to the people who do, or donate even a little something to the cause – not the adult, but the cause. not because it’s working vs non-working, but because it’s the kids.
    it’s like that word “normal”. very few “ordinary” people have “easy” lives, once you hear the story.

    • Mir


  11. Libby

    I am a football Mom. During this weeks homecoming game, I ducked into the concession stand to help out during the half time rush. (Cause I am a saint doncha know?). Due to the fact that it was homecoming NOONE came. Buuuut the third quarter was a freakin’ mad house. I got stuck in there because several parent who were signed up didn’t show. I missed my son, my SENIOR son, playing the entire 3rd quarter. I will only get to watch him play 2 more times (sniff sniff). My husband and I have raised talking smack about the parents who never, ever volunteer to the level of an Olympic sport.

  12. Libby

    And for the record I work 40-50 hours a week at my “real” job. During football season I spend another 10+ hours a week on team stuff (organizing team pics, team meals, equipment cleaning, concessions etc etc). I would love to share some of these tasks with other parents if they would just step up. Not all volunteering has to be done during game time. Much of it is flexible/can be done at home. I don’t think people always realize that. Ask!

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