As I heard the shuffle of feet and mumbled chatter above me, I shook my head in disbelief. Was I really squatted under the gymnasium bleachers? Yes. And this is why.
After dropping my kids off at school, I reluctantly continued my drive into work. I got about five miles away and could go no further. I had to go back. I had to see my son perform in the high school’s talent show which was to take place after the first bell. While I have heard him practice – he has a powerful amp – I wondered what it would be like to watch him play his guitar and sing in front of an audience, albeit, mostly still half-asleep teenagers.
He had made it quite clear that I was to stay away. It would just be too embarrassing to have my face in the crowd. But what if he didn’t know I was there?
I circled back to the school and parked my small sedan between two large trucks. When the last bus pulled away, I donned my dark sunglasses, slipped out of the car and casually approached the teacher on parking lot duty. She discreetly escorted me into the building, keeping an eye out for my son. “The kids are in class for roll call so the gym is empty. You can wait in here,” she said, looking over her shoulder as she nudged me through the double doors.
It seemed safe enough, that is, until I heard deep voices coming from the opposite end of the gym and I realized that my son and a few of his friends were on their way in. Glancing at the nearby bleachers, I darted to the side and stood by the back wall. Their voices were getting closer and I knew there was only one way I could avoid getting caught.
I ducked under the bleachers, like a spy. As the boys hooked up their amps and rehearsed, I felt guilty for eavesdropping, but I thought it would humiliate my son even more if I revealed myself at this point.
Finally, the rest of the students began filing into the gym. I wasn’t sure if I could step out unnoticed from my hiding place and blend in with the crowd of students and teachers, but somehow, I did and all seemed well. Feeling brave and quite the sleuth, I decided to retrieve my phone from the car. Upon re-entering the building, I ran smack dab into HIM. He had come out to the foyer to get a drink of water. I shrugged. He shook his head and then, get ready for this, he hugged me.
Later, as he took the microphone, he pointed at me standing amidst the teachers along the wall. He then dedicated the song he had written to me. Right there in front of everyone! I nearly fainted.
Back home at dinner time, I asked him why the dramatic change of heart about me being there. He said he didn’t know really, just that when he saw me, he figured it was no big deal. Well, he was wrong about that. It was a very big deal.
Today, my daughter is performing a dance with some friends in part two of the school’s talent show. She asked that I not attend. Could she really be serious?
Author’s note: A version of this story was originally published in the Valley Courier newspaper. My son continues to pursue his love of music and doesn’t even mind if I’m occasionally in the audience.