When my family first came to the C-corps practice in February to sign my son up, the first thing my shy 10-year-old son said was, "my Mom hates this." I was shocked to see him speak so freely to a stranger and yes, to tell this family secret. It wasn't that I "hated" drum corps or the Blue Devils, it just was that after five years of my son playing little league, I wanted him to stay with baseball because I loved it so much! With life being so busy, we gave Tyler a choice of one activity and he wanted to try C-corps. My husband was ecstatic and I, well, just think Prozac. I was the one who loved little league. Every year rotated around the practices and games. My staff as well as my employer knew the commitment "I" gave the league and when I could be paged or interrupted during the season. Little League felt like home. I knew everyone and was "Team Mom of the League" one year. My coaches adored me and I spent hours on my own time coming up with newsletters, treats and snacks. I was in my own world, and my son hated it. It wasn't like I was a stranger to drum corps. Our band director was an ex-Kiltie and ran our band as a corps (I was in color guard, and dated the first horn player during all four of my marching years). We went to see Spirit of Atlanta the first year they competed and at one show, I saw the Madison Scouts. I didn't give them a second thought at the time (those deep Southern ties prevented me from acknowledging anything Northern) -- and little did I realize sitting in that Tennessee stadium I was watching my future husband march with the Scouts. I ran off to California at a young age and was a Blue Devil junkie. Jerry Seawright, Jeff DeMello, Judy Britton, Sondra Williams, George Kelley and the Kibbees all treated me like their daughters. I dated a drummer (don't ask who, for I will never tell)! I practically picked up soda cans to bring to the recycler to earn money to fly to Montreal in 1982. I couldn't get enough. I volunteered at the Bingo hall just to be a part of the corps and yes, there is where I met my husband. We were married and didn't use heat in our place to save money so we could have enough change to go to shows. My mother-in-law and I drove to Madison, Wis., for finals one year (driving without air conditioning in the middle of August). You really can't beat passing through a tornado in Wyoming and a Hell's Angels (somewhere).So, as you see, I wasn't a stranger to drum corps, but I just didn't think it would compare to "my" other activity, Little League. My husband and son told me not to fret, it would be the "boys" activity and Mom could stay home and do "self-care" or whatever new age thing I was in to at the moment.That lasted a week. My husband's work schedule changed and I had to take Tyler. I felt like a fish out of water. It seemed that everyone knew what to do but me. Do I watch? Where do I sit? Do they need help? Who exactly is in charge of the parents? Tyler was in his own world. He loved it the first minute he was there. He loved the music and the "coach" (as I called him) gave them treats from Japan and laughed a lot. Tyler made friends immediately (of course, he is a very loving boy)! But what was I to do? I began to volunteer for stuff. I volunteered to drive the truck and that was cool. "Can I help in other ways?" I asked, and everyone said things were taken care of. Everyone was so busy. So I sat there. Every one seemed to know each other and I knew no one. Nope, I wasn't in Pittsburgh Little League anymore, just as Dorothy knew she wasn't in Kansas anymore.A funny thing happened. I really dug the show. I sang those @#$% tunes as I brushed my teeth. Tyler and I sang the show on the way to school instead of studying his spelling words. I had a lot of respect for the "coaches." They were treating the kids like they were smart! They were teaching them all kinds of things. They were expecting great things from them and yet, it was fun. I began to relax a bit.And then I met some wonderful, awesome folks. There was a group of "rookie" parents that seemed to understand me. We wanted to help, to participate, to not be so new, and found that we could do that together. Is this why I came to love coming to practice? And in that glorious moment, the "Decor" parent group was formed.Now, having been through Little League as well has having seen my son in many school functions, I knew how to support my child during performances, games and competition. I pride myself on my vocal strength and endurance, and I feel no shame. I will shout, scream, dance, cheer, run, boogie, root for, applaud, bellow, screech, holler, roar, squeal and shriek for my son, his "team" and his buddies. My son is 10 and he has been living with me for all those years, so he is used to me "showing my support." Being an activist and feminist has served me well in being "supportive " with my voice as well as actions department. I was not a rookie there! So when the competitions began, the "Decor" and I took up the pride (like all the other C-corps parents) and did a respectful job in shouting, screaming, dancing, cheering, running, boogying, rooting, applauding, bellowing, screeching, hollering, roaring, squealing and shrieking for these incredible and amazing children. When "Family Night" happened in June and two A-corps horn players "adopted" my son, it was done for with me. Little League Who? Those two outstanding young men don't even realize how important they are today -- not just then -- to my son. They are mentioned often in my house (we don't even know their names -- we call them "the guys") and Tyler had "secretly" taken their pictures during the standstill at Precision West. One of the many things they told Tyler was that he blew a "mean low C." Now I am sure that means something to you, but I have no idea what it means other than my son still prides himself with his "mean low C." They also offered to fix him up with one of their little sisters -- but we won't talk about that until he is 35. At the time that we were signing up for the L.A. tour, I had the brilliant idea that I would stay home and take care of the animals and try some new-age, self-help, guru-influenced, Buddha-loving, self-awareness weekend without "the boys." That last week of practice, I began to think, "Hey wait a minute. -- I WANT TO GO! I can't miss this! I can't stop now. My son needs me! The corps needs me. I need to be with these amazing folks that have stolen my heart! I need to be with my 'new sisters' and the Decor. Can the kids even play without my shouting, "They're always ready!" at the beginning of the competition? Without that, will they be lost?"Then sheer panic struck! I had to find someone to keep the dogs and cat. Then I thought that maybe the pets are more self-sufficient than I think? If they stayed inside with the air conditioner going and a 50-pound bag of food piled on the floor, and the tub filled with water, they will be OK, won't they? I begged friends and enemies to help -- but before I knew it, I had to send the corps off without me. Never fear, I thought, there is still time, I can drink Big Gulp after Big Gulp and drive down to catch them. I called more friends and enemies, asking, "Wanna do a road trip? Ah, come on, it will be like old times!" But everyone had plans. "OK, OK," I kept telling myself. "Calm down. You can miss one show. You can miss the most important show of the whole @#$% season. Your spouse needs this time to bond with his son." I was horrified at the thought of father and son, drum corps members, bonding without me at the most important show of the year. So I took to the bed with a box (or five boxes) of candy and a grape drink. I talked to the kids, Dave, and Decor members during the trip. I was living through them, via the cell phone.The C-corps had just finished their show. Dave and the amazing friends/Decor Superstars called me on the cell phone as they saw the kids on the horizon. They talked me thru the kids coming out on the field, and when it was time, they held out the cell phone and let me shout, scream, dance, cheer, run, boogie, root four, applaud, bellow, screech, holler, road, squeal and shriek for MY corps. I listened as I bellowed to the best show I have ever heard them do. Yes, my darling children, nobody does it better than you. And as they finished, I discovered that I was crying. The dogs were barking and howling. Tears had been streaming down my face and now I was actually crying, for I was so proud of these children. They had worked so hard and, as much as I thought in the beginning that I was not even gonna enjoy a second of this experience, I loved every single note, flag, rifle, drum, bell, horn, cymbal, saber, fuse or shako that I heard or saw. I was so proud of all those folks who "coached" the kids. I loved the A-corps "guys." I loved the Impulse drum majors who stopped in front of the C Corps kids and saluted them. I loved the Renegades for giving the corps the biggest trophy because they richly deserved it. I love the other parents who went through all this just as I did. As I sit here waiting for that call from Glendora, Calif., as they announce the scores, I hope I will love the judges as much later as I do now. Nobody, and I mean nobody, does it better than C Corps!So, what's next? Let's just hope that next year the activity that Tyler picks is NOT SOCCER. Just kidding. Like I said, this is a confession from a C-corps Mom. Guess what? I confess that I love the Blue Devils organization. And with that, your organization is stuck with me now. This crazy, red-headed, tattooed, pierced middle-aged, new-ageing, screaming, shrieking, feminist and proud Mom loves what you are doing. Bravo. BRAVO.
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