Ten days before:
"Um, Mom, I got this application today that says I've been nominated by my friends for Homecoming Court. I have to finish it in two days, and I need six pictures to go with it."
(Lots of questions from Mom follow, with very few answers. Mom finds eighteen pictures, calls Dad over to ooh and ahh over chubby toddler cheeks, birthdays and first bicycle ride. Homecoming dance information gets researched and ticket is bought online.)
Seven days before:
"Mom, my parade partner's dad is getting the car, so you don't have to worry about that. And you and dad will be escorting me on the field at the homecoming game."
(Car? Oh geez, that's right, he gets to ride in a car for the parade. And we have to escort him? What does one wear for that? More questions from Mom, few answers.)
Two days before:
"Yes, the pep rally is right after the parade. I'm going to have my horn section escort me on the field."
(Parents attend parade to see their son wearing a Disneyland Mickey Mouse shako while smiling and waving from the back of a convertible, throwing candy (where did he get that?) to children on the street. Drive to school football field and jockey for seats to get good pictures. Yes, fifteen sweaty band members escort said teenager through the JROTC sabre arch, much to the delight of the marching band.)
Two hours before:
No word from teenager since this morning. Worries exchanged between parents, hoping he has everything he needs for the game. Five outfits apiece later, parents are ready for the game.
Ten minutes before halftime:
Parents still worried, haven't seen son. "Were we supposed to pick him up at school?" "No, he was coming on the band bus." Son arrives five minutes before halftime. Instructions are given by two nervous-looking teachers and a few student helpers: "Moms on the left, dads on the right. Moms, here's a rose for you. You will be guided on the field, don't worry about that. Just move quickly; if we stay on the field too long, the team gets penalized, so as soon as the king and queen are announced, get off the field!"
In an instant, we are up and moving onto the Astroturf. Somehow we know to space ourselves on the yard lines, directly in front of the marching band as they play the school song; it's the closest I've ever been to the band while they play. We move as names are called, rush through the arch, stop and smile for pictures. Wait for the king and queen to be announced while looking up at the bleachers; the crowd is a blur. Our son's name is not called; we are hurried off the field. He is not sad, leaves quickly to change into his band uniform, back to his Friday night routine.
For his parents, high school nerd and loner themselves, this experience has been anything but routine.