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Prizefighter

Junior came home from school with a big red eye and a note from his teacher. Steve and I were being called into school to explain our son’s behavior. After I caught my breath from the physical damage, I placed an icepack on his face and made him sit at the kitchen table. I didn’t want to ask too many questions yet because whatever happened must have been right at the end of the school day and Junior was still in a lot of pain. There was also that rip in his shirt to explain and multiple scuffs on his pants and shoes. It must have been quite a fight. Junior wasn’t offering any information on the event, so I decided to wait until Steve came home to discuss whatever happened. Daisy wasn’t any better with intel and just went to her room to read. Although she did roll her eyes at me when I asked if she knew what happened.

I set the table and finished getting dinner ready as the battered boy sat with his head laying down on the icepack at his place at the table. Luckily, by the time Steve came in the door, Junior was not as red-faced and when he lifted his head, Steve did not lose his mind. I like that as good parents, we do not immediately freak out. We even started eating dinner before Steve finally asked about Junior’s day at school. Daisy immediately decided she was done eating and excused herself. I took that as a bad sign. Eventually, Junior let us know that he had been in a fight at the end of the class. Of course, Steve reviewed all the good reasons not to get into a fight and why fighting was not the answer to anything. That took us all of the way to dessert. I mentioned to Steve that we had been called into school to discuss the fight; Junior had not yet delivered too many details but Steve excused him to do his homework in his bedroom and go to sleep.

The following morning, we all drove to school together and met with Junior’s teacher before class started. The hallway was full of running children and noise, so we stepped into the principal’s office to talk freely. Junior’s teacher, Miss Periwinkle, was a petite woman but I knew by reputation that she did not put up with much nonsense. We looked like contrite parents wanting the best for our son and Steve explained that he had delivered some news about the perils of fighting to Junior the previous night. I wasn’t sure that was the message that was delivered but kept silent. Miss Periwinkle looked a little relieved and thanked him for being so forceful. She liked Junior but could not accept his decision to involve himself instead of getting a teacher’s help. We all nodded in agreement and it felt as if the conversation was coming to a close. I really still did not know what happened but accepted the fact that I would have to pry the story out of Junior at home.

As we turned to leave, I asked Miss Periwinkle if the other boy was hurt badly. She chuckled a little and looked at both of us as if we were stupid. “Boy?” she responded. Steve and I both stopped in our tracks and looked at her again. Miss Periwinkle went on to explain that Junior had been hit by a girl who was in the next grade up from his. I could see the surprise starting to form on Steve’s face and reached out to grab his arm and ask him where his manners had gone. At that point, Miss Periwinkle gave us the whole story of Junior coming to the aid of the female student who was being bullied by one of her own classmates. When Junior jumped in to stop the bully, the girl accidentally punched Junior in the eye. At that point, I let Steve smirk freely. Junior had not really done too much wrong. Defending someone else was the right thing to do; getting punched by a girl was only the byproduct.

That night at dinner, I made Junior’s favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs. His eye was turning colors and it would probably not heal for a few days, but we managed to help his ego along by telling him that he did a right thing. We also discussed the possibility of other right things he could have done to stop the bullying. Kids will be kids, but at least our kid was kindhearted. By the end of dinner, everyone was in good spirits again. I need to remember not to jump to conclusions so easily next time.

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