Friday, September 9, 2022

Learning (finally) to appreciate the memories while you're still making them

Thank you, Ron Kotar, for one of my favorite shots of drum major Jack!

We are in the midst of a 10-week period during which Friday nights in our family can only be described as chaotic.

For many years now, our Friday evenings from late August through the end of October have revolved around high school football games and halftime band performances. All of our kids have been members of the Wickliffe Swing Band at one point or another, and my son Jared also kicked for the football team for three years.

At the very least, that has meant hastily consumed dinners, getting kids to the school on time before a game, and dressing up in our finest Blue Devil gear.

But this year the chaosI can think of no other appropriate wordhas ratcheted up by a factor of about 10. To wit:

  • Jack, who is enjoying his senior year victory lap, is both co-drum major and band president. These roles encompass a lot, not the least of which is trotting out to the center of the field at halftime along with his fellow drum major Clare, flinging a baton high into the air, and trying to catch it when it comes back down. All with 90% of people in the stadium watching the two of them. I don't know how nerve-wracking it is for Clare and Jack, but it's terrifying for me.

  • Terry, who has long volunteered her time to the Swing Band, has taken her involvement this year to a new and presumably unprecedented level ("unprecedented," at least, in Wickliffe band history). She is not only in her second year as Band Booster president and her ninth year as chair of the uniform committee, she also recently took on the official title of "assistant director." Like, she's now an official Wickliffe City Schools employee and everything. It is risking gross understatement to say she is invested in the success of this ensemble.

  • My Friday night contributions pale in comparison with Jack's and Terry's, but I'm in my ninth year as the Swing Band announcer as well as my first year as the full-time Wickliffe football PA announcer. The poor people who come to our games cannot escape the reach of my voice without running to their cars and driving home.
So fall Fridays are a production. They're also fleeting. If Wickliffe doesn't make the state football playoffs this year, after tonight we only have six games to go. Then, just as suddenly as it began, it will be over.

This time next year, Jack will be in college. Terry may or may not continue her involvement with the band, but it will be at a scaled-back level if she does. And while I still plan to announce, it won't feel quite the same as it does this year.

All of which is why I'm enjoying every second of this season. You would think, with five children (four of whom are out of high school and in their 20s), I would have learned long ago how quickly it all passes and to appreciate it. But until this year, I really hadn’t.

For the past decade and a half, we've always had at least one child at the high school, with the promise of more to come. Even last year we knew Jack still had his senior season ahead. So I just jumped from one event to the next without ever stopping to take in the moments and savor each one.

Now, with something of a life transition staring us in the face, I find myself pausing on Friday nights and just looking around. I listen to the crowd. I watch Jack march. I observe Terry in her element, doing everything she can to make sure the band is put in the best position to succeed. And I smile at all of it. I take a breath and acknowledge what a special time this is for us.

And how, in no time at all, it will have passed us by.

As recently as a month ago, I dreaded the thought of it ending. But now I don't really mind that much. Just being present in the moment and knowing it's a memory in the making changes the whole dynamic. It will end, yes, but that's OK. It's special BECAUSE it's going to end.

At the beginning of every halftime show, I get to announce Jack's name as co-drum major and Terry's name as assistant director (she's only just now getting comfortable with me doing that...not much of a spotlight-seeker, that one). Even counting upcoming band festivals, there are fewer than 10 such opportunities remaining.

With each one, I lean into "Jaaaaaaaaaack Tennaaaaaaant!!!" and "assistant director MRS. Terry Tennant!" just a little bit more.

What an incredible blessing this has been. And still is. And always will be.


  1. This is beautifully written.

  2. Scott I have watched all 5 of yours and Terrys kids walk on the football field in the last 10 years seen 2 get nominated for HoCo court for 10 years good luck to Jack on his homecoming nomination for Grand Marshall I have a gut feeling he will get it. As this chapter of having no more kids in school enjoy this last fling. Who Knows you might be calling grandkids names some day.