A few weeks ago, I received a desperation call from June's choir director at the middle school begging for volunteers for the All-Region UIL Choir auditions that were being hosted at Ereckson. He was specifically looking for high school siblings who were in the AHS choir to run scores for the judges. (Apparently they are the only ones who can do that job.) I told him that Flowering Buttercup and I would both be available to help. He said, "What time are you available?" I said, "Well, we have nothing that day, so just fill us in wherever you need us."
Note for the future: Be specific when agreeing to volunteer for a school based function, especially if the person asking sounds desperate.
A week later he emailed me a schedule with all the volunteer blocks filled in. Flowering Buttercup and I were down for the ENTIRE day from 8-5!! And he strongly encouraged all of the volunteers to meet for coffee and a rundown of our responsibilities at 7:00am. (I opted us out of that hour.)
This morning, the three of us woke up bright and early, despite the fact that it was a rainy, cold Saturday morning and we would much rather have stayed in bed for about three additional hours. June had signed up for an early audition time so that she would also be available to volunteer throughout the day. We dragged ourselves into the dark, freezing van and drove to Sonic for a couple of giant cups of ice, and made it to the middle school by 7:45, plenty of time to get to our posts and be briefed by the volunteers who actually made it there at 7:00.
I have to say, I was not exactly enthusiastic about this volunteer opportunity. But, I decided that I would make the best of it. I was determined to find opportunities to connect with other choir parents. I looked forward to spending a little time in June's space. I was hoping that Flowering Buttercup would get to know some choir folks that she hadn't yet met. I prayed to have patience with that choir director and by the end of the day to have a better attitude and a greater appreciation for him. Just before I walked out the door, though, I threw a book into my bag just in case none of those things happened.
You know what happens when you have good intentions and you keep commitments and you try to be a good example to your kids?? Stuff turns out better than you expect.
Here's the good stuff:
- I was assigned to be the greeter, like at Walmart. I was the first contact those little auditioners and their parents had when they walked in the door. After the first 10 minutes, I realized that I was setting the tone for their experience that day, so I tried an experiment. I pretended I loved every one of those kids and that I wanted them all to make it into Region Choir. I smiled brightly. I made eye contact. I called them "honey." I directed them sweetly to the registration area, and then I sincerely wished all of them good luck in their auditions. And it was the BEST job ever! They changed from nervous and unsure to relaxed and happy. They felt comfortable coming up later (when I wasn't greeting) and asking me where things like the restrooms and the concessions area were. And more importantly, by about the 10th little person I greeted, I actually DID love them all and want them all to make it. It was the best feeling to be able to get to them first before they had any other interactions with judges or other volunteers or other kids. I have a lot more respect for those Walmart greeters!
- Flowering Buttercup was the ONLY runner for the first 4 hours of the day and by lunchtime she was hungry and melting down FAST. But with a couple of slices of pizza, a Diet DP (I'm drinking it vicariously through her these days) and a quick pep talk from her mom about being where you're supposed to be, she pulled herself together and went back to work. When I checked on her a few minutes later, she was happily engaged in conversation with other AHS choir kids! Hooray!
- I met two moms I really enjoyed and look forward to running into again at future choir events.
- I played a mean round of Truth or Dare with about 5 other 7th graders.
- There were four sessions of auditions, which meant four warm ups, and I made sure I was sitting right in the cafeteria so I could hear them. I really don't know how those judges narrowed it down because they all sounded beautiful.
- We made it through all 9 hours of this day!
Oh, and here's the best part...
JUNE MADE IT INTO UIL ALL-REGION CHOIR!
I know that my little June can sing. And I know that she has more confidence in her little finger than I will ever have in my whole life. But I also know how many kids there were in that building today, and how difficult it is to make it into All-Region-Anything in Texas.
Here's how this thing works...
750 kids auditioning. These kids have practiced two specific selections of music for MONTHS with their voice teachers and/or choir directors. They have their music carefully marked and tabbed because they know they only have 2 seconds between cuts, no time to shuffle music around.
5 judges behind a very intimidating curtain, who cannot interact in any way with the kids. They don't say hello. They don't say "thank you." You just walk in, wait for the monitor to start the CD, you sing, and then you walk out. Oh, and there's a sight reading excerpt, too!
Of those 750 kids, most of whom are girls, only the TOP 22 SCORES in each part will make it to Region. That equals about 40% of the boys and only 8-15% of the girls!
|This is one of 5 judges sheets. The others were scored higher, but I loved the notes and encouragement on this one.|
OK...quick! Take a 5 second break and then jump back in and keep reading because that's about how quickly our post-UIL evening went.
We finished right at 5:00 and drove home to the Scout Master's amazing grilled hamburgers. How nice is that?? He bought all the stuff, made burgers, and then had them ready for us when we got home from our looooonnnngggg day.
Flowering Buttercup's friend, Ginger, arrived shortly after we got home to get ready for the Priest/Laurel Dating Conference that started at 7:00 in Plano. The keynote speaker was Brad Wilcox!
And then an hour later, we dropped Spell Girl at the church where she met all the Mia Maids and Teachers to carpool to their dance in McKinney with 9 other stakes! Holy cow!
My favorite part of youth dances is the excitement the girls have when they walk in the door after coming home. We used to ask FB to rate her dance experience, but we've been through enough dances that I can tell now just by the sound of the door slamming what her rating will be. This dating conference was a 10. She loved it and she left with an actual date. I'd say that makes it a successful event. Spell Girl loved her 80s dance just as much and mostly hung out with those two boys on the ends in that picture up there.
I am so grateful for awesome youth, for better than expected days, for great opportunities, and for UIL CHOIR. I love this place - not just the physical place where we live, although I definitely LOVE that - but this place in my life. I love that our Saturdays are sometimes insanely full and busy. love that the kids are so enjoyable. I love that they still stick relatively close to home because they really like us. I love that they're discovering more things they like about each other. I love that they want to share all these experiences with us.
I hope that I will remember all these moments and cherish this time, because I can feel it slipping quickly through my fingers.