Something happened this weekend that really touched me. The eldest son and his girlfriend came over to watch the first Harry Potter movie with us. And when it got to the part where the students were being divided into their different houses, I asked the son about this – did the different houses each represent a different trait or characteristic or something? He said that one house valued intelligence, another courage, a third valued kindness, and the fourth valued ambition. I asked him which house he thought he’d fit in and he said the one that values kindness probably (which was cool to me because the eldest son is brilliant – but he chose kindness over that). He asked me where I’d go, and I said maybe the scholarly one – or the kind one.
And then we sort of mulled over the idea of any of us going to the house that values courage and we decided that, yeah – we’d probably all be okay with that one, too. “I’ve climbed mountains…” I said – trying to blow my own horn – “and traveled and had adventures…” and then – and this is the part that really touched my heart – the son said, “And you’ve gotten in the middle of a fight and stood up to bullies before.” And his girlfriend asked, “Really?!” – trying to picture me doing that. And the son said yeah, he’d seen me walk into a ring of gang members before and seen me try to yank one guy off another one.
And this is true. I did do that. I saw a young man sitting on top of another young man, pounding his head into the parking lot pavement when I came out of a movie theater once – and, without thinking, I walked into the ring of spectators watching this happen, and tried to pull the attacker off his victim. I yelled, “Stop it! You’re killing him!” And one of the spectators said, “Lady, you better be careful. This guy could have a knife!” And I turned on him and asked him why he was just watching, why he wasn’t trying to help. And then I put my hands on my hips and announced, “I am a teacher!” – like that was going to make them all stop. And the guy who was smashing the other guy’s head into the pavement sort of paused, and looked up at me for a minute, and then went back to doing what he was doing. Pretty soon the police came out and took care of it all.
But… I didn’t know my son had appreciated me doing that, or had admired it. He’d been watching me from a distance with his friends and their parents – he was only nine or so at the time – and I always kind of wondered what he’d thought about it all. Had he thought I was crazy stupid to get in there and try to break that fight up (which I probably was, in retrospect)? Had he been embarrassed by me?
And last weekend he told me I had made him proud that night.
Isn’t that cool?