Monday, December 22, 2008

Kid Gifts

When you teach elementary school, you get all sorts of gifts. This time of year, the gift-giving really picks up. Instead of coloring pages done at home, you get cookies and ornaments and such. You've got to be careful not to make too big a deal about any one gift. The student who brings an ornament made of crayoned Popsicle sticks should feel just as good as the one who brings fancy hand lotion. It is a talent - this gushing equally over all gifts. They should never know if you have a favorite - gift or student. But I did. We all have favorites. My least favorite gifts were probably the most expensive. Nice things chosen by mothers and meant to impress. Kids who give these things shrug when thanked. They shrug because it didn't mean anything to them. They didn't even know what they were giving you until you unwrapped it that very morning. My favorite gifts are somewhat kooky or off-the-wall. But they are given with great love. A teddy bear purchased at a garage sale who has just a bit of unidentifiable dried goo on his head. A card made quickly at someone's desk because she is embarrassed that her mother didn't get you a gift. That's the other balancing act - showing enough gratitude for the givers, but not so much that the non-gift bearers feel left out or embarrassed. Thank you notes must be written to each student - even if the note says "thank you for finishing all of your work this week" instead of "thank you for that ridiculously expensive candle."

Over the weekend I noticed a picture that hangs on my bulletin board. It was the last day of school. The close of my very first year of teaching. One of the kids - okay, one of my favorites, but shhh! - showed up to school that day sporting a new hairdo.

That's right, friends, he had requested that his dad shave my name into the back of his head. Money spent on gift? None. Impact on teacher? Immeasurable. The kid is now somewhere around 20.

Today, I received my first kid gift since leaving elementary education. Now I have tech students who work with Kelly and me. A month or more ago, we were discussing an inflatable flamingo that used to decorate our office. He sprung a leak and eventually got thrown away. Today I opened a Christmas bag to find...TWO inflatable flamingos that are also can holders! No way! This is quite possibly my favorite gift since the head-shaving incident. It's not just that it is a cool gift, which it is, but because it took some effort to find such a thing.
Oh, and yeah, it totally floats.


Keetha said...

That pink flamingo is a TRIP.

Keetha said...

What cool students.

Dawn said...

I'm SOOOO jealous! I have never had an kid carve anything into their body for me. LOL

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Wow, that IS crazy!!!