Hard Choices & Tough Lessons

Our twins have had a week or so of experiencing some tough life lessons.  It’s been quite emotional around here.  And I’m getting tired.  Worn out actually.

I talked about our Spring Break test here.  And, yes, I do consider them tests.  Did I say I’m tired of taking tests, too?

One of our other tests involved our baby, the band geek.  She has been in Marching Band and Winter Drumline for four years now.  She has loved being in these activities, and she has learned a lot, but there have been many hard lessons along the way.  There has been bullying.  There has been drama.  There have been some challenges with the leadership.

The Band program is full of cliques, and I’m not just talking about the kids here.  We’ve come to find out that the Booster Club is almost cult-like in how it functions.  This program wants to operate autonomously from the school, and then complain about how the school does not support them.  But, that is not how it works.  Or how it should work.  But, that is a story for another day.  I just mention it because it provides some context.

This year’s Winter Drumline season has been tough.  Several kids, who have been leading players, were ruled ineligible to participate due to state guidelines.  State guidelines that have not been strictly enforced in the past.  Many kids were upset.  But the parents were more upset.  Some of the reasons to be upset were understandable, but others, quite frankly, were not.  If your kid is ruled ineligible due to GPA reasons (which are quite liberal in our opinion), then this is a no-brainer.  This is a school and district rule and is widely published.  The state guideline is just another layer.

After many emotional meetings, this season’s program seemed to be back on track.  That is, until the competition this past weekend.  When the Drumline director decided that one of the ineligible kids could play because the kid, who was eligible and took his place, was sick.  We were heartbroken over this decision.  We felt that it sent all of the wrong messages to the kids.   Not to mention that they were cheating and potentially advancing at the expense of another team who was following the rules.

I would like to add, at this point, that the Drumline director, the leader of this group of kids (he is not a school district employee, but is hired to work for the program), is a preacher.  I mention it because he promotes his religion openly (and I don’t have a problem with that), and he was in a position of making an ethical decision.  And he made the wrong decision.  It was not just a mistake.  He was actively involved in the recent school meetings where the rules were discussed.  It was made clear that the Band was required to follow them, and he actively supported them at the meeting.  Verbally and vehemently supported them.

This just added to our disappointment.  With a capital “D.”

We took our daughter aside and talked to her about it.  She was very upset, and indicated that she supported the director’s decision.  She begged us not to turn him in, and we told her we weren’t going to do that, but that it was a wrong decision (not just a mistake, a point made very eloquently by the activities director at the last meeting), and we did not support it.

We explained that sometimes those in leadership positions (like parents) have to make tough decisions.  Tough decisions that mean that you may not get to a goal that you desire – in this case advancing to semi-finals and finals.  But that you always have to make the right and correct decision.

Well, the incident was reported to administration, and the director has resigned from the program.  We don’t know what the ramifications will be for the Band teacher who is the overall leader of the program.  Certainly, he has been on the hot seat, and this just adds to the list of issues with the overall program.

We talked to our daughter about this situation again, and she now has a much better understanding of the snowball effect that making a wrong decision can have not just in a program, but in a person’s life.

Ultimately, the Drumline did advance to semi-finals, but did not advance to finals.  There are two more competitions ahead for this group, and we’ll see if there is any more fallout.

It’s a shame that our daughter’s final high school season is tarnished by this situation (is scandal too strong of a word to use here?), but while we’re not happy that this happened, we are satisfied that the outcome validated our beliefs.  We’re satisfied because it provided a complete lesson for our child.

Almost everyone makes mistakes.  But making a mistake and doing something wrong are two different things.

Life is often filled with hard choices and tough lessons.

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