I found myself in the middle of a fight today. On the way to grab my lunch (outside, a picnic under the cherry blossoms in front of our school) I was suddenly in the middle of two girls screaming and punching and swearing and slapping and kicking and grabbing each other's hair.
It was actually quite scary. Even if they're seventh graders. There was another teacher there too, who yelled at some kid to go get the principal; she grabbed one girl while some other people grabbed the other. As for me, it was like I was there as two of myself: one version of me who put myself in between the two girls, and the other version of me looking down and wondering about the sanity of placing oneself in between two girls who are still flailing rabidly at each other, one with her fingers tightly intertwined in the other's hair, pulling her scalp toward the other teacher even as students pulled her away.
Our principal got there at the speed of light, somehow, but even so it took a while to get the girls away from each other. It was absolutely crazy. And even though I didn't know either girl, even though it wasn't me in the fight, even though it was probably just a minute or 90 seconds of my time, I couldn't help but cry as I resumed my lunch-getting. Yep, that's right. I hid in the staff room and cried. It was just so...horrible. I don't know. To see people really going at it like that kills me. Our kids--the ones at my school, I mean, not "our" like a generation's worth or anything--are falling apart right now. Flat-out falling apart.
6th period, my class successfully read outside. I always want to take my kids outside when it's nice, but it's a logistical nightmare to get them all out there and doing their work. Who can blame them for wanting to play once they're free of our classroom walls? But today, we did our silent reading outside, well enough for me to think that we could do it again. AWESOME. Don't tell anyone, but I might even enjoy it more than they do:)
Also, as I was winding down from my run this evening, I passed a house down the street from me where 5 or 6 guys were all clustered on the porch with their various instruments: guitar, fiddle, bass, banjo... They were playing folk songs for an audience of random passers-by who sat on the sidewalk for a bit, or for other people also out on their porches. It was rad. And it all made me really happy that even though life is full of both kinds of extremes, it's the reading-outside, impromptu-concert types that I remember and that set the tone for my day when I look back on it.
And I fricken love Portland in the spring.