Don't Assume...It Makes (well, you know the rest)

August 12, 2010

So, I'm worn out and I'm beginning to remember why I wanted summer break to start and the kids haven't even shown up yet!  Yesterday we sat in meetings all day and, let me tell you, that is exhausting.  Today was better.  I think I may have been hovering right on top of the proverbial line during our department meeting.  People never need to worry about what I think; I will tell them.  It works both ways; they can tell me, too : )

I did have a couple of unexpected experiences today that might be worth sharing.  The first occurred this afternoon after our last meeting wrapped up.  My principal spoke to us for a few minutes and explained what we were going to do and then he led us on a little field trip across the parking lot to a house our district purchased a few months ago.  I would imagine we bought this with the intention of using the lot for additional parking at some point, but that's pure speculation and really beside the point.  The district administration had allowed the family living there to remain for a few months, I guess until they found another place since we weren't starting any construction immediately.  Well, the family left yesterday after calling and saying they were just going to go ahead and go and leave what they had behind because they didn't have much anyway. 

I should get to the point -- I tend to think everyone needs all the background information...  One of our students (the identity wasn't shared) was living here yesterday and had lived here at least since last school year.  We were to walk in the front door, walk through the house, and exit the back door.  From the yard it was obvious that this might be difficult.  There was trash and litter from the front porch to the street and the smell started about 3 feet from the door.  I know that people live like this; I know it.  And, I have seen "poor" people's homes before.  I had not ever seen a house like this.  The only furniture to speak of was a small bookshelf in the living room and two twin mattresses thrown on the floor in the back bedroom.  If there was anything else, I missed it.  Everything these folks owned was lying in the floor -- every inch of floor.  I do not remember seeing any appliances in the kitchen.  We didn't see the bathroom and I am thankful for that.  The closest visual comparison I can think of to make is to recall what you've seen on Hoarders, but know that underneath the junk there is no actual functioning household stuff. 

My first thought was that my big girls need to see this.  If our afternoon and evening were not already packed, I would have taken them this afternoon.  Instead, I told them about it while we drove to Parker's open house.  Molly was very quiet; PJB looked like she could cry.  We tell our girls all the time that they have it pretty good and I don't know that they really believe us.  The kid who lived here wasn't complaining about not having the new shoes she wanted or pouting because she doesn't have an iPhone.  The kid who lived here probably didn't even complain about not having sheets on her mattress on the floor of a filthy room in a tiny house full of trash.  This little field trip across the parking lot today has weighed heavily on my heart all afternoon and evening.

Then, after running to open house, tumbling, Lilah's sitter, and finally home to change clothes, I was back at AHS for our open house.  Summer work for my PreAP kids was due the 4th and I was missing several students' work.  Good teacher that I am, I pulled schedules today and wrote those kids a note to please see me tonight.  One of the offenders popped in with her parents and she apologized for not having turned it in; she thought it was due on the first day.  It took one look at her mom to see they'd had a rough summer -- the do-rag on her head and her flat chest gave it away.  Mom is fighting cancer (great attitude BTW) and so this kiddo has spent her summer taking care of the house and her mom.   Her work is finished, but she'd just gotten the date wrong.  No worries, kid!  Bring it the first day.

As teachers, we say things like, "Some of these kids have it so rough," and "For some students, school is the best part of their day."  We say we know this exists, but do we really?   Now I do.  The child in the first situation is up against more barriers to success than anyone in our country should be.  The second kiddo's heart is probably breaking over and over again.  My girls won't be complaining about their circumstances for a while.  I won't be entertaining any whining about what they lack or what they're required to do. 

Thank You, Father, for my house -- for the physical structure that is clean and cool and comfortable.  Thank You, Father, for my home -- for the faith, hope, and love that abide here.  Thank You, Father, for our health and well-being -- we are beyond blessed!

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