Bleeding Out

Today’s tale will not be what you’re expecting based only on its title, just so ya know.

I arrived at one of my schools shortly after noon last Tuesday.  It’s lunch hour when I arrive, so there are pockets of relative quiet and pockets of high activity.  The pockets of high activity are full to bursting, maybe less like pockets and closer to, oh, I don’t know. . .  what’s vast and seemingly endless?  Oceans?  OK, oceans of activity.  During a tsunami.  They’re middle schoolers, so orderly is never quite the expectation, I understand a little noise is in order.

But a throwdown is not.  Last week, I, with a pit in my stomach, watched about one hundred middle schools tear down the hallway–top speed–faces filled with delight as they sprinted to get a good view of “the fight.”  Students squealed and laughed, hooted and hollered, as they raced for a front row seat.

I called the office, which is protocol.  There are safety aides, and it’s their job to step in, break up, and begin de-escalation, so I summoned their help the only way I could.  Last year, when breaking up a fight between second graders destroyed my rotator cuff for the second time, I vowed I’d never again intervene.  I stated to any and all within earshot that a student would have to be bleeding out before I’d intervene.  I felt sick that I kept that promise to myself. The kids weren’t bleeding, and the situation resolved within a minute, tops, but I didn’t step in.

Later Tuesday, I drove back to my office from school, and witnessed a street fight escalating.  Surrounding a parked car, three women were pushing, shoving, screaming at one another.  As my car continued to near the melee, I slowed and veered toward the center of the narrow street, fearing that one woman would push another into my car, or that one could be knocked off-balance and I’d end up hitting a “pedestrian.”  And that’s when I saw the dude on the sidewalk side of the car with the gun in his hand.  I saw the trunk of the car pop open, and drove like hell.

It’s not that I never lose my shit.  I’m not proud to admit that I have a short fuse on some too many issues, and will tanrum (a swear-y, adult version sans violence) when frustrated.  I’ve never been in a physical fight.  Never ran with glee to catch a glimpse of a fight.  Never had a handgun in my pocket or trunk of my car.  Never push and shoved my way around the street.  This is just another Tuesday, and I hate that.  Friends have asked why I didn’t call 911 after the attempted carjacking last month, and I didn’t call 911 about this either.

Just another Tuesday.  And I hate that.

This Tuesday however, I’m wracked with mom guilt and fear of a totally different type: drumline.

The logical, rational part of my brain reminds me that I’m not wholly responsible for my son having muscular dystrophy.  Sure, my contribution is a solid 50%, a number I’d give anything to have computed differently at that magic moment my son became a zygote, but here we are.  He’s got MD.  He’s also got a district music competition in December, and hours of rehearsal before that date.

Yesterday was a no-school, sleep late, par-tay kind of day.  Sorta.  Child Number One had to be at school by 9:00 for a four-hour drumline rehearsal.  They took breaks and all, but he was exhausted.  My kid rarely complains about his physical status, and he didn’t yesterday, but his body language told the whole story before his mouth could or would kick in.

He wants to do well.  He wants not to let the drum corps down.  Every so often though, I ache for him because he can’t build endurance–rehearsal doesn’t make him stronger, just more tired.  He can’t become more coordinated.  And I feel 100% responsible for his MD.

Just another Tuesday.  And I hate that.

6 thoughts on “Bleeding Out

  1. WE were instructed to NEVER intervene in a fight—just call for help and use non-violent crisis intervention. There was no chance I was getting in the middle of two teenaged boys fighting let alone two girls, let alone sticking around while someone pulled a gun. My own family is too important and they need me. Don’t feel guilty. BTW, I nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger award and you HAVE to answer my questions!

    Liked by 2 people

    • There are many things I love about the city, but high poverty and crime are not among them. In just a few hours, I saw the whole cycle: this is what kids see, so it’s what they do, so it’s the survival norm, so it becomes patterned behavior, so, so, so. . .


  2. I think all three incidents just go to show that sometimes sh!t happens: We’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, or we’re the unfortunate recipients of some malignant genetic lottery. Some things are no one’s fault — they just are. You’re a Rush fan, Wendy: “Why does it happen? Because it happens. Roll the bones.”

    My wife says guilt is a wasted emotion. I tend to think she’s right. You had nothing to do with your son’s MD, but you’re sure as hell doing everything you can to mitigate it. That ought to make you feel pride, not guilt.


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