I am addicted. Everyday when Joe gets home from school he and I get in the car to go deliver the newspapers and while we drive along for 20 minutes I get every single piece of middle school drama that a 40 year old woman could ever want. I have never met half of these kids but I know ALL about them.
The latest thing is fighting. The kids finally have figured out that fighting at school on school property is really not a good idea and results in unpleasant consequences. So the Plan B is that you "schedule" your fight for after school. Sometimes there will be 4 or more fights scheduled for after school on the little side roads all around the school. The whole school day is spent hyping up these fights. The "busy body" kids run around and make sure the fights get announced and that the kids involved in the fight stay mad enough at each other to actually fight. The "walkers" (which Joe is not) have to sometimes....gasp...choose which fight they will watch after school because there are so many. According to Joe's friends, who also love to talk to me, "girl fights" are a definite must see and take precedence over any other fight. So after school they all rush to the spot where they will be viewing their fight and then they all film it with their phones so they can show the "bus riders" what they missed the next day at school.
It has opened a lot of discussion between Joe and I which is why I am a firm believer in public school. If I was home schooling Joe I would assume that there would never be an opportunity to have these discussions :) So thank you, parents of middle school age kids in Westfield, Massachusetts, for giving me so many opportunities to talk with my child about drugs, smoking, being disrespectful, bad language and fighting. Some of you may wonder why I let Joe go to this school. Why don't I quickly try to find a sheltered happy place for him where bad things never happen? Well I trust Joe and I guess I strangely have confidence in my parenting. There are bad things happening everywhere we go no matter what phase of life we are in and yes, I would love to protect my children from all of it but that is not reality. There is no Utopia. They need to know what choices they will make when they are finally on their own. And believe me Massachusetts public schools have been a "goldmine" of discussion opportunities. :)
So I basically just listen as Joe shares all his information and the funny thing is by the end of his description of his day including who fought who and who smoked what he has pretty much made sense of it himself and announces his thoughts about the stupidity of it all and that is that. I barely have to say anything.
I confess I got in one fight when I was in 7th grade. A girl named Dolly at a middle school in Vista, California. I can still see Dolly's face. And I can most definitely still hear her voice pushing me, and pushing me, and pushing me, until me, Jennifer Baird, voted Most Friendliest in her Senior Class just punched her. I was immediately shocked at what I had done. I had never experienced that feeling before. I was not proud of my choice at all. (But for the record I did win.) I did get detention. And I went right home and told my mom. And to her credit she did not make a big deal about it. I think she already knew I would never do it again and that I was "beating myself up" (nice choice of words huh? ) enough over it. I need to remember to ask her if she remembers that fight.
Joe and I have been talking about why kids fight. I am not really sure why they do. It really cracks me up that they can actually wait to fight until after school but they can't just choose not to fight at all. What makes someone think that that is the way to solve problems? It is very interesting to me.
You should have seen Joe's face when he got in the car yesterday and I said, in my best gossip voice, "Okay, so tell me what happened in the fight between Brian and John."