The Last Thing I needed the First Thing This Morning.

Yesterday didn’t start out as a normal sort of day. I woke up at 3am because the house was too warm. My computer was on. Facebook open. So, I looked. My middle son posted:

“There’s nothing like running from the cops till 3am….”

I quickly responded, What?

No response. Not good. So much for sleep. I dozed restlessly for the next three hours. I dozed until the buzz of a text message woke me again.

It just said, “I give up.”

I quickly responded, What?

My oldest son had hit something while driving to work. Whilst he was physically ok, his van needed work.

Cool (not really). He was 600 miles away and waiting for a tow truck. Still no response from son #2. Riffs of the old Willie Nelson song, The Last thing I needed the First Thing This Morning, began running through my head.

I woke Jamie to begin our daily routine, you know, get the kids off to school and stuff. She was beat red. Turns out she has a fever of 103.

And I still hadn’t had coffee.

Whoever said it gets easier when your children grow up, never had kids. At this point, I was reluctant to wake Ian for school. But I did. It was about then that someone said, “Oh my God, it’s snowing!”

It had been in the upper 60s on Monday. Ok fine. The day was looking ominous. Very ominous. But I forged ahead anyway. The pants I put on for work were torn, I forgot my meds, didn’t eat…

I took a deep breath and fought off Quinn as I walked to the car.

Turns one son #2 had been playing Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit. Bastard.

I left for the office. On my drive I noticed that there was a Vote Here sign in front of the local church (yes, elections in a church – I know what you’re thinking…the whole separation of church and state thing, but that is another topic!). Damn it! Special election for a school board member. I had completely forgotten about it and now I didn’t have time to stop. I have only missed one election since I turned 18 – and I was in the hospital, so I don’t really count that. This was upsetting.

The rest of the day looked like it would be a normal sort of Tuesday; meetings, teaching, meetings. I am still interviewing candidates for part time teaching positions. They range from totally amazing (like, Ivy League grads) – to frightening (I wouldn’t leave them to teach a hamster how to use a wheel). I’m thankful the process is mostly black and white.

I managed to get my scheduled rearranged (thanks to the best employees in the world) so that I could attend Ryan’s band concert. Jr High School Band. I was sure it would be the highlight of the day.


I managed to stop and vote. At a little before 6pm, I was voter number 52 in my district. School board election in an ever-shrinking economy—and growing hostility against educators. My heart hurt.

After two bites of a Sheetz quesadilla (eewww, resist the urge), I rushed to the Jr high school school. I was disconcerted to find the parking lot full. So was the parking lot of the elementary school next door. Really? Well ok.

The gym was packed. I was immediately annoyed with the organizers of the event. 6th, 7th, and 8th grade bands and chorus for each level. You have to figure at least three people per kid, mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, curious onlookers. I located Jamie and Ian in the crowd and we packed into the gym with the crowd like sardines. Yes, the gym, the school has no auditorium (again the value of arts as compared to the value of sports – another topic). The bleachers were crowded with overweight neighbors. Now, I know I need to lose some weight, so I worked to scrunch myself into the tiniest me I could be, tucking my legs under me and folding myself into the seat. I checked and rechecked to insure I was not touching the people behind me. Bertha Butt and her family were sitting in front of us. Their great mass overpowering the student-sized benches. I adjusted and re-adjusted myself in the seat, trying to avoid Bubba’s massiveness. I apologized profusely to the gracious people behind me.

Bubba stretched and leaned.

It was at that point that the band director came to the microphone and asked if we could all move closer together to accommodate the growing (in more ways than one) crowd of people. Really? I looked around the gym and realized that three quarters of the people in attendance had to be related to the Butt family, they were all overweight.


I shifted to sit behind Bertha. I was anxious. As the music finally started, Bertha leaned back against my thighs (I didn’t have enough room to sit straight and so was sideways on the tiny bench). I struggled with my adopted-southern-graciousness. The Bostonian inside me wanted to read Bertha and her family the riot act. I wanted to tell them that the new American Family Fitness was offering memberships for $1 sign up. I wanted to loan them that dollar. I desperately wanted to knee their rudeness into oblivion. But I didn’t. Listening to 6th grade band is an adventure not unlike fingers on a chalk board. I endured. The 7th grade played Ode to Joy – and I recognized it.

In the short pause while the bands were changing seats, the band director came out and said, “Next year our combined concert will be in the high school auditorium. Remember to call the superintendent and thank her for not cutting fine arts. Your overwhelming presence here tonight—crowded though you are proves how much support the county has for these programs.”


While Jamie and I traded seats, so I could get feeling back in my legs, I wondered what this crowd would look like in the high school’s spacious auditorium with its high backed seats… Small. I thought about the 51 other people who voted in my district and wondered if they were scattered about the crowd. I decided everyone else deserved to be cramped. Calling the superintendent doesn’t speak as loudly as voting! I was annoyed that the band director had used children for politics. She had made everyone in the room physically uncomfortable to prove a point. I deliberately bumped Bertha, Bubba, Granny, and Grandpa Butt as I inched towards the end of the bench where I could stretch my legs. I fought the urge to shout a four lettered protest at the band director. I was angry that the cramped quarters that would necessitate pain medication before I slept was deliberate. I secretly hoped that both the band and chorus director would fall prey to budgetary concerns – for their arrogance. Then Chorus director mentioned the school board three times while she introduced her kids.

The perfection of the 8th grade performances, both band and chorus, were over-shadowed by the discomfiture of the space and politics. And they were perfect. My heart hurt for the kids. Shame on the instructors that thought this was necessary. Shame on them for not knowing that the citizenry of the county does support the arts. That they would come out in droves to support these kids…mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, curious onlookers.

Just ask.

We got home and Ryan watched the videos on my cell phone recorder and said, “Dang, we sounded good!”

Yes, yes you did. It was an amazing performance by the kids…Amazing enough to be heard over the cramped conditions, discomfort, and political frustration… the adults in control were the last thing they needed!

After pain medication, I slept fitfully. Welcome to Wednesday.


I couldn’t find a Willie version, but this isn’t bad.

Word Count: 1309


4 thoughts on “The Last Thing I needed the First Thing This Morning.

  1. Ouch, long day alright……I agree with the sentiment about using the kids for politics, but at least the reward was sweet….:)

  2. After the initial turmoil of the morning you described, I can picture my 14 year-old posting somthing like that on facebook too, I was having a good laugh about the parking and Bertha and the kin folk. We face the parking woes for my 2 band members (my middle one gave up the tuba last year (all Franklin residents are thankful) 2 or 3 times a year so I feel your pain.
    The middle school concerts we went to for 6 years were just like yours. With the nice big High School Auditorium laying fallow most every night and laying a mere 4 miles distant, with acres and acres of free parking, why are we parking on sidewalks, and sitting on gym benches, or folding torture devices? Turns out the politicos and administrators CHARGE for use of the HS Auditorium, even to their own members. Yup $1,000 for the event. This news just came public, to me anyway, this year. It has been the policy for the last 6 or so years. None of the three middle schools have ever paid the ransom.

    • Yes, there is a charge for the HS — but in years past the concert has been held there, so…

      I wish I could say it was financially motivated, but it was all politics and save-my-job motivated.

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