by Stella Forth
Let’s get the hate out of the way so I can end on a good note.
Texas High School Football is here! The boys of fall have worked hard in the summer heat and are ready to hit the stadium under those Friday Night Lights. The band has practiced to perfection. The cheerleaders are armed with pom-poms and ready to go. Moms and Dads across Dallas are gearing up in their school colors to go cheer on their son’s team.
First, I can’t stand that cheerleaders and band and relegated to one sentence that basically makes them slaves to the almighty Athletic Department. I’m so sick of sports being the centerpiece to the world. It seems like more often than not celebrities – sports and otherwise – are gaining traction in the American echelon rather than actual heroes like teachers, civil servants, etc…hell, if Brittany Spears pets a dog at a park it makes the 5 o’clock news as if she ended world hunger.
We’re a football state, I totally get it. It’s a great tradition of fall nights, Friday Night Lights, and cheering on your team. What it used to not be was full of the entitlement that we now have licensed our sportsmen and women with. Now, like Beyonce, we’re just giving high school athletes a longer, bigger, louder ego to deal with. Something I definitely needed millenials to have more of.
Second, and moreover the reason for this post, I’m over “Coach’s Wives”. Seriously? Is that a THING? Yep, it’s a thing. For 15 weeks out of the year their husband’s have Thursday, Friday and Saturday night games, and then go to practices that probably last until 6-630PM during the week – a little later than the 8 to 5 us plebeians deal with, but nonetheless, something completely manageable by family standards. What the what? Poor pumpkin.
Try being a band director’s wife. Try it. Yep, we have those practices until 6PM too. Plus football games. Plus we have concerts, and contests. Those alone take away another 5-9 weekend days a year. (No, not mere hours, the entire day from 4AM-11PM) Then in the spring season, our spouses wait until late, after school in order to hold practice so that Jimmy can make his athletic practices. Don’t forget every other year when the theatre team puts on their production and the practices start during Thanksgiving and run through Christmas holidays. (Shop with a 2 month old baby for those last minute Christmas gifts, I dare you.)
But teachers get summer, sure they do, Band starts mid-July. So we get 6 weeks off as a family. Of course, that doesn’t count the one week “ruined” by three days of work during normal business hours, or another week “ruined” by a three day music educators conference, or the one or two days a week you spend chasing up if they painted the practice field, or if the instruments were dropped off, or if the flags were delivered and are correct, or costume design, or chasing up a drill writer, music writer or other some such helper.
But then you get to be their wife! Joy of joys! You’ve met the man you want to spend the rest of your life with. He has 300 other kids. He does. Awesome. He’s well traveled and smart and handsome and good looking. With time he becomes your hero, despite the schedule and the rigor and the stress that comes home with a job that basically takes a 24/7 brain to be on all.the.time.
So here’s how you treat the Band Director’s Wife:
- She’s not there to piss you off. Nope. She’s there to help and support the band and indirectly her husband. Try not to get her involved in the he said-she said, they-did, horribleness that is high school kids. Try not to see her being a volunteer as a thing for them to be a power trip over the band. Try to just see her as a human being who wants to be a part of something….just like a band parent would be.
- Listen to her when she hints that something may not be a good idea. It may be because she needs family time, not one more thing on her husband’s plate.
- Listen to her when she says something IS a good idea. It honestly is, and you should be supportive in your efforts to see said thing come to fruition, we’re not suggestion boxes, we’re helpers, let’s at least do this together.
- Recognize that she may not be musical. Just like a coach’s wife, she may not be completely aware that Timmy cannot play saxophone this year because he’s getting braces or that Miss Prickett is a bad clarinet private teacher and how dare “those teachers” suggest her. (PS. “those teachers” could be “my husband”. just sayin’)
- She has absolutely no influence on grades. or what band your kid is in. or whether they get a marching spot. She has no idea how those decisions get made .She has no input.
- She does have an influence on her husband, but she doesn’t play that game.
- She would kill for you to tell her husband that she’s supportive, awesome, kind, such a good spirit, wife, etc…and so forth to tolerate this schedule, or even go so far as to plan the entire family lifestyle around his occupation.
- She is not, and will never be, her husband, but she is more than just his wife. Learn more than her name if you plan on taking an interest. Learn who she is, in fact, you could even find a friend in her. It’s hard being the wife when you’re around nothing but band directors and their charge’s parents.
But this is where my heart thought there could be hope.
Did you know coach’s have a dismal divorce rate? It’s around 50% among high school coaches…..[sic]…..Marital encouragement (not unsolicited advice), such as gentle reminders to take care of one another are welcome. Mention to the coach something you noticed about his wife. “She sure looks at you with admiration when you’re out there.” Or to the wife, “Those kids look up to him, don’t they? He’s a really good man.” We are so busy during the season and resentment is a constant battle for a coach’s wife. We sometimes forget to look up and notice the wonderful things about our spouse.
You do. You really forget what they need to hear and do. and we could use all the help we can get.