What a tumultuous week this has been in the life of my mom and dad’s cat. Mica (rhymes with pizza) has not been herself. Normally an aloof member of her human family who prefers to stay outdoors, she chose to stay inside curled in a corner of the sofa. There were several phone calls exchanged between my mom and me regarding the health and well-being of this furry family member and many cancelled vet appointments made in the process. Then came Friday.
It started with a late afternoon phone call from my mom saying she thinks the cat is dying. As I often do, I chalked it up to my mother’s dramatic tendencies and soothed her with assurances that the cat would be okay. A few hours later, my husband and I received a panicked phone call from my mom. She and my dad were at the emergency vet clinic and they needed help filling out the forms. We dutifully went to the clinic and it was there that I learned the impetus for the ER visit. The cat passed out. I didn’t know cats could pass out. Evidently they can.
Fast forward a few hours. The results were in. My mom and dad’s cat was diagnosed with feline leukemia with a secondary infection. It was the infection that caused a high fever which, in turn, caused the cat to faint. My mom made the decision to euthanize their treasured cat. My husband and I were back home when she called and asked me to meet her at the clinic and be there when Mica took her last breath.
Here’s the thing. I knew I was going to be the one holding the cat when the vet plunged the needle of death into her furry little backside and, for purely selfish reasons, I just did not want that to happen. I don’t have a real attachment to the cat, but I really didn’t think we gave her a chance to recover and I didn’t want my dad (who has dementia and is seriously attached to the cat) to have to live through the loss of his cat on a daily basis-if you know anything about dementia, you will get what I’m saying. So I asked for a second chance for the cat.
$369 later, the cat is home. She got a second chance because I didn’t want to be the one holding her when she died. As I considered my actions this morning, I couldn’t help but think about second chances. The cat is going to die because she has a terminal illness, but doesn’t she deserve a chance? We all deserve second chances.
How does this relate to teaching? Stick with me.
We all have our share of students who take the easy way out. They don’t do their assignments or they turn in subpar work. It’s way easier for us to give them the grade they “deserve,” but what are we saying to them when we do this? When we accept their lack of effort, we are essentially giving up on them. We are telling them that their academic life doesn’t matter. These are the students who need second chances. And third chances. And maybe more. These are the students who need us in their corner looking for ways to save them.
Because without second chances, where would any of us be?