I'm working on so much interesting stuff it's not even funny, but none of it is just ripe yet, so I'll just share with you an anecdote from my son's last school day.
The kid is finally leaving Seminole Middle School in Plantation for good today, none too soon. It's a big, ungainly school that's part gulag and part free-for-all. My son, perhaps his journalistic DNA showing, recently took to chronicling school fights on his cell phone video. It's not something I'm proud of, but I'd rather him be recording the things than be in them. I've seen a few of the fights and there are some pretty good scraps. One is absolutely brutal; an eighth-grader just gets pummeled and pummeled by another one without any mercy. Someday I might put it up here as a testament to the animal within us all and to shock all the prudes about what our kids have come to.
Anyway, the boy goes to school on his last day and a phone call comes a half an hour later. "Hi, I need to speak to Mr. Norman in reference to his son. He needs to get picked up from school, please."
I missed the call, but I heard the message shortly thereafter. My first thought was, fuck that, I'm busy working, it's the last day of school, not gonna happen. He could sit in the principal's office at school all day for all I cared. If it was serious, my wife would hear about it and she would call me and then I would go and get the rascal.
So he gets home around 3 p.m. and I'm on the phone with a source. He's got two friends with him. I tell him he's not doing anything because he's in trouble for whatever prank he pulled that caused the morning phone call.
He's almost 14 now and his voice has changed so it was a little startling to hear him erupt. He doesn't do it often, but his voice boomed. "What! Do you know what I did? I wore black."
He was wearing black shorts and a black shirt.
"What are you talking about," I asked him before apologizing to the source for the loud interruption in our phone call.
"They rounded up everybody who was wearing black, mostly black kids, and they thought it was a gang or something," he said. "They thought I was part of it, and they held me. But it was stupid, and that's why they let me go."
"You weren't planning anything?"
Ah, high paranoia at Seminole Middle. The administration thought the black-clad baddies were going to create some form of havoc. My son said he didn't know if anyone was really planning anything, but he didn't think so. He said he and several other potential young ninjas were allowed to stay at school and the teachers' worst fears were never realized. Nothing happened.
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It was just another example of the sad state of affairs at Seminole. There is no happy medium between the faculty and students there, mostly just fear and distrust. Again, I'm glad he's done there. Now it's on to South Plantation High, which he promises will be worse.
Before I let him go off with his friends, I told him not to yell like that when I was on the phone.
"If you do it again, I'll have to beat you up in a horrible way in front of witnesses and it would be an ugly ugly thing," I told him.
"OK, I won't do it again," he said on his way out the door.