Before I say anything more, though, I wanted to note two things. First of all, David (EF'M), I will miss your blog. I will miss your blog and your voice and your writing. Thank you for all of the humor you've given to us along the way. It's been such a treat.
Shannon (Cyberbones), thank you for doing last week's RoundUp! It was so sweet of you to pick the RoundUp up, dust it off, and hit it out of the park, even with a less than stellar internet connection! Donna (Email from the Embassy) has volunteered for this Friday's RoundUp, so watch her blog for that! And if anyone wants to sign up for upcoming RoundUps, let me know!
So, last you heard, our family was slogging its way through the beginning of school. James had started Chinese without me at FSI, and Matthew had started high school after being only ever homeschooled. We've been at it two weeks thus far, and it's a huge, huge mountain to climb. Two separate days last week, Matthew had ten hours a day of homework. This weekend, neither he nor I left the apartment because he had nine hours' worth of a science lab project... and that was just how long his science homework took. There were lots of other subjects to tackle. The learning curve is steep here for us.
The most noteworthy incident, though, from last week had to be Matthew's first introduction to... how to put this... the OTHER sort of high school students.
Part of the way into each school day, Matthew boards a bus and is driven from one school to another for his accelerated Chinese class... and then is driven back. One day last week, Matthew got off the bus to walk back into his base school (the school where all the rest of his classes are), when he encountered multiple police cars in the parking lot. He walked toward the main entrance of the school (in order to go to his next class), and as he was walking by, multiple police officers were struggling with a huge male student, who was resisting arrest.
Cue the F word. Multiple times. (From the student).
And as the student was resisting arrest, Matthew had to walk within just a few feet of this scene in order to re-enter the school and get to his classes. A huge mass of students were congregated inside the school, staring out the windows, watching the scene unfold.
Turns out, the huge male student resisting arrest was arrested (so sayeth other students) because he'd gotten in a fight at the school and pulled a knife on a kid during the fight. The school's police officer had tried to arrest him, but he'd resisted, so the school officer had to call for backup. Hence the multiple police cars/police officers/huge struggle/drama.
So you sort of have to ask yourself: is this worth it? I mean, let me just say- this school is AMAZING academically, and Matthew's teachers are stellar. But it really is something to ponder.
Anyway, so I later asked James, my former Army-Infantry/police-officer-for-more-than-five-years and current-law-enforcement-total-studmuffin the following:
So, what should Matthew do if someone pulls a knife on him at school?
(shifting uncomfortably on his feet)
Run like hell?
But what if he can't run like hell?
Well, he just really doesn't want to be in that position. You don't want to be in a knife fight.
(sensing that there's more James could say but that he's not saying it)
Because he'll get CUT.
And so, there you have it. You don't want to get in a knife fight because you'll get cut. Simple concept.
Now, it's not like our family isn't huge on self-defense. HUGE. I mean, you totally TOTALLY wouldn't want to, say, break into our home. Just not the best choice you would ever make.
In fact, this topic has made me dust off some pictures I took last month when James took the boys to the shooting range. Because Matthew is an amazing shot with a gun. But a knife? James has had training with a knife (according to James, the proper use of a knife is "like spreading butter." And if THAT doesn't give you the heebie-jeebies, I don't know what would). But what if one person has a knife and the other one is defenseless (no knife, no gun, kind of like Matthew at school)... well, that's just a whole lot of BAD NEWS.
But back to the gun range last month.
We own guns. James is better with guns than most men are with golf clubs or tennis rackets or whatever. He's even shot competitively around the US.
Matthew, being all Eagle Scout and all, and having been shooting with James before, was all happy and rarin' to go to the range. He loves shooting. It was a family thing. Even my Dad went! But it was Zachary's first time.
For those of you who don't hang out at shooting ranges, here's the general idea.
When you first get there, you sign a whole lot of forms. Even the boys had to sign forms. Here's Zachary signing his:
This gun range is inside a gun store. Lots and lots of guns for sale. But we brought/they shot our own.
When Zachary first went into the gun range area, even with his ear things on, it was LOUD.
You look out along the range. This is where paper targets meet their maker.
Different people shoot with different targets. I think it's a personal preference thing.
James worked with Zachary... showing him how to load bullets into the magazine, how to stand properly, how to place your hands around the gun, etc. You know, the fundamentals. James has instructed lots of people in the fine art of shooting stuff, so my boys are lucky to have such a great instructor.
Zachary shot multiple kinds of guns. Each gun has its own feel.
Zachary actually did a REALLY good job, this being his first shooting experience and all!
Take a look at the kid's target:
Now, seriously, in typical Zachary fashion, he didn't notice or pay any attention to all of the GREAT shots on his target. He only is pointing to and looking at the ones that weren't perfect center body mass. And if you ask him how he did, he'll tell you how awful he is at shooting. And you could argue with him all you wanted, "No, Zachary, you did GREAT! See all those great shots?" but he wouldn't believe you. What IS that?!?
Anyway, Matthew shot, too. Of course. Matthew's target was doomed. See it out there, hanging? Forsooth, target. Your doom is upon you.
James and Matthew talked a bit about... whatever men have to talk about when one of them is about to shoot, and then Matthew took over:
The target tried to run for dear life but was too well attached at the clippy thing.
The target be toast.
Which brings me to my point. This is Matthew's target. The kid is fierce with a gun. But how's that going to help him if someone pulls a knife on him at school? Which, I agree, is only a remote possibility. But still.
The boys weren't the only ones who shot. My husband's paper target was the most doomed of the lot:
DUDE. I'm sorry, but to me, this is total wife catnip. I know that if my husband is around, there's nothing that can hurt us. To me, that's just about the best feeling in the WORLD. Safety. Protection.
As the shooting continued, Zachary lost all interest. He went outside the range and looked really bored:
So James has one son who's into it, and one son who isn't. Ah, well. Isn't that the way that it goes?
But these pictures were taken a month ago, before we came up here to DC so that James could start Chinese. James' weapon of choice at work nowadays is:
The pencil. It has a lot less recoil. And is mightier than the sword.
(But not the Glock.)
Yes, there my husband is, late at night, slouched over the dining room table with his Chinese textbooks. Donna (Email from the Embassy) warned me that this would happen, since her own husband went through Chinese a few years ago and was, himself, slumped over the dining room table in the evenings.
And the cycle continues...