so today . . . i got a gift from one of my students. this is not an unusual occurrence at the end of the year. many times parents take this opportunity to show their appreciation for all the hard work a teacher has invested in their child over the last year. and invest, we do . . .
both of my parents are teachers. i don't really remember either of them bringing home "end of the year" teacher gifts. my dad taught jr. high earth science, and by the time kids are in jr. high their parents have kind of left the teacher gift idea behind. i guess if your child has 6 or 7 teachers instead of just one, gifts for everyone can be quite an expense. although, if you think about it, no one deserves an appreciation gift more than a jr. high teacher!!
my mom mostly taught second grade--she should have received gifts, but i don't remember very many . . . what i do remember is going to school with her on the last teacher workday of the year.
i always loved being at school with my mom. usually i would be the only non-adult in the school on that last workday. i would help take down bulletin boards, put stuff away, clean tables, whatever a 10 or 12 year old could do to help "batten down the hatches" for the summer. i loved the books and the papers and the smell of the room--it was kind of a mixture of chalk dust, text books, and crayons. when we got done, her room would be like a blank slate, just waiting for her to start all over again in the fall.
but my absolute favorite part of the day was that magic moment when i would open the top desk drawer in her big teacher desk . . . that is where she kept the confiscated toys that had accumulated over the past year. toys from home were not allowed at school, and if you brought one into my mom's classroom and she saw you playing with it, it no longer belonged to you--it belonged to her! there were ways of getting the toy back, but most required a parent's intervention, and who wants to tell their mom or dad that they broke the rules and now the teacher has their toy and they can't have it back unless you come and get it?!?
so by the end of the year, there could be quite an assortment of contraband in that desk drawer . . .
i remember most of the toys as being "boy" stuff--matchbox cars, marbles, small balls, army men. i guess boys were more inclined to try to bring something in their pockets than the girls were. of course, the boys had pockets--little girl clothing didn't really include that feature very often, which made it tricky to hide something from your mom or dad and get it to school undetected (especially since backpacks hadn't been invented yet. :) ) then again, maybe the little girls were just more devious when it came to hiding their treasures from the teacher . . .
i didn't care that it was mostly boy stuff. to me it was as good as a gift--opening that drawer was like ripping the wrapping paper off a box, and i knew i wanted whatever was in there before i even knew what it was. i usually got to claim those treasures as my own, although sometimes sharing with my little brother was a necessary evil. it didn't matter that these were not things i would choose for myself as toys. it didn't matter that they had belonged to someone else for a while. it didn't even matter that i would probably never play with them. the important thing was, they were an unexpected bonus--a surprise that i got to enjoy simply because my mom was the teacher.
i still remember that flutter of excitement, that promise of possibilities that i experienced on the day after the last day of school when i opened that top drawer in my mom's big desk. it's the same feeling i got today when jonathan handed me that little green gift bag . . .
as i said, i love presents. and i have a funny blog i wrote last year about an end of the year gift, which i was going to re-post today. but then i started writing the introduction for it, and look what happened . . .
so, i will re-post that blog tomorrow. right now, i have to go open the box that came for me in the mail today. it isn't a gift--it is something i ordered. but it still needs to be opened. and i've never seen it in person before, so it will kind of be a surprise. and who knows? maybe it will be even better than i expect it to be. it's all about the promise of possibilities . . .