Tonight I walked into Ryan's new school for the first time. Middle school. Oh. My.
We were there for the band instrument fair, and Ryan and all the other fifth graders were trying out different horns that they might end up playing. Kids could pick three instruments to try, so they drifted from station to station for a quick lesson and a test run with each instrument.
As was the case with Ryan, many of the kids were too cool to outwardly acknowledge their parents' presence, and only a few dared to hold a mom's hand here or there. The boys especially, with their Zack and Cody haircuts, played it cool and kept their distance. I couldn't help but remember Ryan's first Meet the Teacher night when he wouldn't leave our sides.
Just being there, seeing where Ryan will be spending his days come August, made me flash back to my own time in middle school. I can still picture the old cafeteria and smell that eau de mop bucket that only school cafeterias have. I can feel the cool of the concrete ledges in the breezeways, the ledges where we'd hang out before first period. The sixth grade science teacher with the impossible tests, the Texas history teacher with super-long hair that she kept in a tidy bun, the art teacher who could barely hide her disdain for my pitiful attempts at drawing: I can see them so clearly. And I can see our little band hall and our band director, the guy who missed several weeks of school after he was hit by a shopping cart(!).
As Ryan tried out the clarinet, trombone and trumpet, I remembered when I first tried to play my flute. I have so many good band memories, from the flute-trumpet duets my best friend and I composed at sleepovers to the unforgettable bus rides to high school football games. Marching in parades, getting nauseously nervous at region tryouts, performing at the Aloha Bowl... Band provided many of my highlights of middle school and high school. As a band geek, I hope that band is his thing, too--but if not, I pray that he'll find some other way to connect to his school and make his own memories.
And the winner is... the trumpet!