It poured all day yesterday and it poured all night. The school marching band was scheduled to perform in the Christmas parade and so our daughter put on warm layers under her uniform and we dropped her off in time to ride the school bus down to the parade.
Instead of our usual footrace through town to follow the band as they played, we sat in a delightful restaurant with friends, warm and dry. Occasionally we glanced across the room to look out the small rain-streaked windows, through the dark, straining to see the tops of slow moving cars and the bounce of marchers going by. Given all the obstacles and the typical 90 minutes to consider, we knew there would be no way for us to catch our daughter as she went by.
But I glanced up once, stood up in my chair and thought I saw the familiar colors of our band. My husband and I dashed to the front of the restaurant to see if it was our school. It was, and our girl had just stepped by! We ran up the street, bobbing between people and dodging the umbrellas, through the dreary rain. Just as the band stopped to play their Christmas tune we saw friends who’d been braving the elements all evening to see their own son march, and they welcomed us under their extra-large umbrellas.
There she was, right in front of us. We called out,”Go, Nellie!”, clapped when they were done and started marching on, said our thanks to the folks with the umbrella, and headed back to the warmth of the Italian place where our other friends held our seats for us.
The first words out of our girl’s mouth when she got in the car at the end of the evening, after marching in the pouring rain on a nasty December night, carrying an instrument, and wearing no rain gear at all, were whether we’d seen her, and if we’d called out her name! We had! Yes, we saw you and we loved it and yes we were there!
This is what kids want. They want to know that you have shared their life with them, and that you know who they are and what they have done. It was a small thing she wanted to know. Besides marching by playing an instrument in the rain, she really wanted to know if we’d witnessed her grit, and her poise under pressure,and anything else about her that you can only see if you take in the circumstances. It’s one thing to march in a parade, and quite another to do so under the conditions of last night. Kids would have stories to tell about the night they marched in a downpour that might have been snow, because the show must go in. To her, it mattered a lot. She isn’t aware of it probably, but this is how kid’s get to know themselves. With our help as witnesses to their lives.
Thanks to all my friends who made it possible for me to stand in the rain for just a moment to see my kid march by. Because of you we got off easy and got to take the credit for doing the hard thing for our girl.