Since last August there has been Wednesday night marching band practice. Tonight was my last trip to practice with Emily, Joe and his brother, Liam. Who knew, three years ago, that my traffic defying chase of Joe’s mother to the high school, so I could park behind her, put my face in her window and ask if she would car pool would turn into a dynasty.
The first two years I had Emily, Hamilton and Joe, with Hamilton the big guy in the front seat. Last year Emily claimed front seat, but this year Joe definitely is the big guy in the front seat, with Emily and Liam back. Next year it will be Joe, Liam and Laura. Then Liam and Laura. Then….
I love Joe in the front seat. Joe is on the Asberger spectrum. He has a high anxiety level and a photographic memory. I hear book pages turning in our discussions. He mercilessly cuts me off at the knees when he can no longer wait to disagree with me, makes his point and then tells me to go ahead and make my point.
If I’m not involved, there are great free ranging discussions among the three of them. I enjoy teen age give and take. Joe’s high anxiety level often breaks through; he cannot stop himself from worrying if the band will perform up to the expectation of the director, if the opposing school’s band will diss them after the game, and so on. Emily and I used to march him in lockstep through the reasons to be positive; Liam, in true little brother fashion, tells him to knock it off.
Joe learned to drive last year and has his license. His mother would not let him drive to school until this year, and though he drives himself and Liam to school and back, he cannot drive them to band practice on Wednesday or for a game on Friday because Ohio has a wonderful law banning teenagers from driving in the dark with a passenger.
I can feel Joe driving my car for me, from his seat. Sometimes our feet press the brake pedal simultaneously; sometimes he is a fraction ahead of me. Tonight, for the second time in three years, I took a different route, right out of his street because I would be ten minutes turning left against all the traffic. I had an immediate “Where are you going?” I told him we were taking the freeway. “Oh, OK,” and he relaxed into the seat.
Traffic was unusually heavy tonight, however. Suddenly, “Oh, this traffic makes me car sick,” and his voice meant it. I had cold air blasting on him a second later, and he picked up where he left off, on the merits of military marching bands compared to show and corps style. I had nothing to contribute to that discussion, so kept on inching and driving, until I delivered them and turned off the air.
I did hear one small “Sto….” thrown into a sentence when I may not have noticed the car ahead of me stopping. I will miss that boy. But, I’ll still have Liam, who is another inimitable person, whip smart and beautifully opinionated.
And if Hudson is defeated in its first playoff game on Friday, my marching band season is over until next August. Here’s hoping.