Today we received a 10-day Foreclosure Notice on our home. We purchased our home on a friendly cul-de-sac, six-and-a-half years ago. We have never missed a mortgage payment. Never even paid late.
This summer, we refinanced our home. We cashed out just enough money to finish our basement, a project we had planned and saved for years to do. We worked with a contractor and paid every invoice in full. We never paid late.
But the contractor wasn’t paying his bills. He took our money, and didn’t pay the subcontractors. He declared bankruptcy and had his debts discharged.
Now the lumber company is threatening us. Apparently, it is all legal, and is called a mechanics lien. They will foreclose on our home unless we pay them-- again.
It is not fair.
So badly, I want to stop the world and scream “This is not fair!” We did everything right. We don’t deserve to be threatened, bullied and punished. I want to protest. I would be justified. I want to stay mad and depressed. I want to shut down.
Every day, I work with students and parents for whom this is their reality. When parents don’t show up to meetings, don’t answer the phone when I call, and don’t return signed paperwork, I’ve critically assumed they were disengaged or absent.
Perhaps they just feel exactly as I do now. They are facing every parent’s worst nightmare. Their child has a disability. They want to stay mad and depressed. They are justified. They want to shut down. It is not fair.
Few things test my patience more than when capable students shut down. I beg and plead with students to work with me. I bribe them just to try. Instead they put their head down on their desk and refuse. Angrily, I have assumed they were being defiant.
Perhaps they just feel as I do right now. They are sick of struggling every minute of every day. They are tired of school being so hard. They want to stay mad and depressed. They are justified. They want to shut down. It is not fair.
I work with a talented EBD teacher who deals with many students who are stuck. Ms. Beedle knows just the right amount of time to allow students to wallow in it is not fair, and then she gently pushes them forward. Ms. Beedle has students sit with her and make lists of all the good things that are happening in their life. Right in the midst of life being unfair. She helps them re-focus and re-train their brains. She moves them forward.
Many students with disabilities have every right to feel it is not fair. They, like me, are frustrated with a system they don’t understand. A system they perceive is not on their side. One that is complicated and confusing and just makes you want to shut down.
Students don’t need teachers to help them understand it is not fair. Students need teachers who know how to gently nudge them forward. They need teachers to help them realize that in spite of all that is not fair, there is plenty that is good today.
One of my most upbeat students is one that has been homeless since the fall. Jenna, her mother and younger sister have lived in homeless shelters and several different temporary living situations for months. She told me they once lived in a van.
Jenna has every right to feel it is not fair. No one would blame her if she put her head on her desk and shut down every day. But she does not.
Jenna is naturally resilient in a way that I aspire to be. Today I feel more like a student, than a teacher. Today I am reminded that life isn’t fair—but neither is shutting down and staying stuck.
Today I will learn from all the teachers in my life and I will work to focus on what is good—not what is fair.