It’s the time of year to start thinking about Christmas presents for your kids’ teachers. It’s also the time of year to start composing snarky lists of awful things that teachers don’t want for Christmas from anyone’s ratty kid.
Some of the stipulations seem reasonable to me. Most teachers, for instance, already have a robust collection of mugs, plaques, trophies, and knick-knacks proclaiming them the World’s Best Teacher, and don’t need a single one more, as they run out of space just like the rest of us. (Of course, we parents also run out of space to keep the toilet paper tube rockets, styrofoam meat tray castles, paper bag frog puppets, and forty-six reams of worksheets and coloring pages the kids bring home; but we’ll leave that aside for now.)
Some people say what teachers really crave is a gift card for much-needed classroom supplies; others protest it’s gauche to treat them as if they’re always at work, and what teachers really deserve is a small reminder that we see them as human. A bath bomb, say. Nope, those might induce migraines. Well, then, a bottle of wine. No, because even though you or I might reach for a bottle, were we to spend all day with our children, we can’t assume the teacher does. Well, maybe one of those mugs . . .
Anyway, most everyone seems to agree that teachers do like a note of appreciation, a few words letting them know families recognize and are grateful for the herculean effort that goes into teaching. Just a simple thank-you, so they know they’re not struggling in vain.
I’m always behind schedule, so I haven’t written any notes to my kids’ current teachers yet. But here are some other notes I’ve been meaning to send out:
Mrs. R., thanks for taking us out past the playground into the warm, dim, shadowy woods so we could drink our cartons of milk on a carpet of pine needles while you read to us about The Little Red Hen. I really liked it.
Mrs. H., thanks for taking the time to mediate a dispute over a pencil that my friend Dena had carved a smiley face on. A pencil. It was important to us, so it was important to you.
Mrs. B., thanks for letting us practice our penmanship by tracing it in shaving cream on our desks. We thought you were magic, absolutely magic; and when you wore that red, flowy dress, you looked like a princess.
Mrs. D, thanks for dragging out your autoharp and teaching us those goony old songs. I know we didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I remember every word, and I taught those same songs to my own kids. Who don’t appreciate it.
Mr. P., thanks for not lowering the boom when I confessed to cheating on those miserable multiplication speed drills. I guess you could see I already felt pretty bad about it, and I really, really didn’t want to let you down. I did learn how to multiply eventually. I’m fast, too!
Mrs. L, thanks for smiling so sympathetically when I showed up late wearing my despised new glasses for the first time. I don’t think we liked each other very much — fifth grade is tough — but we both wore glasses, and I guess you remembered what that was like in fifth grade.
Thanks, Mrs. B., for that one time you let tears stand in your steel-blue eyes. Every other minute of every other day, you were as firm and unyielding as granite; but that one day, we were so bad, we made you cry and tell us you loved us. Lord have mercy, I never forgot it.
Oh, teachers. The rest of you will just have to give me an extension on this assignment. But thank you. Thank you more than a mug.