"There was a fight at school today!" my daughter said breathlessly as soon as she burst through the door yesterday afternoon.
I was on the phone, as I often am. I held up one finger to indicate "give me a minute", and she retreated upstairs.
I like to be off the phone when they get home, but it doesn't always work out that way. They understand. I prefer to have ten minutes to ask about their day, make sure they have a snack, and get them started on their homework. They're almost fifteen now, so they can do these things themselves. They don't need me. Maybe I need them, but they don't need me. I get that. I just like that time.
After my call I went upstairs where the Girl and the Boy were eating their snack while working on their homework.
"What were you saying about a fight?" I asked my daughter, but before she could even speak the Boy jumped in.
"I saw that! They were wailing on each other."
I asked what happened and the gist of it was, one kid kept picking on the other kid until the other kid snapped, stood up in class, and started beating the living crap out the kid who was picking on him. It appeared unprovoked to the teachers, I'm sure, but according to the Boy the kid who started throwing punches has been picked on the entire school year.
It made me sad.
This morning as the Boy Child was microwaving himself a Hot Pocket for breakfast he said to me, casually, "I hope there aren't any fights at school today."
"Me too," I agreed. "If there is one, just steer clear of it."
I'm, of course, thinking of the times that the news shows me pictures of children streaming out of high schools with tears in their eyes and their hands on their heads because some gunman has opened fire in the school. Because some kid snapped, for a million different reasons. It's scary. I don't say any of this to them, but...it's scary.
"We watched a movie about bullies not long ago," the Boy told me.
"What was the movie?"
"I don't remember," he said. Shocking. "It was this one kid who kept picking on this other kid? And finally? The kid who kept getting picked on just beat the living crap out the other kid."
"Yeah, that happens sometimes."
"I think it messed up his spine! He was walking really weird!"
"Huh. So...what was the overall message of this movie?"
We're big on "overall messages" in this house.
"The message was, 'Don't pick on someone because you never know when they'll fight back'."
"That was the message mom," The Girl chimed in. "People might fight back."
"So...the message wasn't 'Tell the teacher if you're getting picked on'? Or 'Stand up for your friends if they are being bullied'?"
"Nope!" The Boy said gleefully. "It was pretty much 'Don't pick on people because they might turn around and beat the mess out of you'."
"Well. Okay then."
High school is hard y'all. It's really, really hard.