I loved teaching at Metairie Park Country Day School.
Especially in November.
By November, my students had finished reading the first novel of the year. They’d written their first five-paragraph essays and finished their first creative projects, (which were always amazing). By then, they had a pretty good understanding of my expectations, and I knew enough about their individual personalities to feel a wonderful kind of connectedness in the classroom.
CONFESSION: The other reason I loved November in New Orleans is a little more selfish.
Starting around Thanksgiving, MPCDS parents and students started leaving gifts for me on my desk.
Pies and brownies, cookies and baked hams. Gifts cards. Once, I even received a handmade sweater!
These shows of appreciation really mattered to me, especially since my salary was a little light on the green back in the day.
My fave gifts were always the ones that paired a little yummy somethin’ along with somethin’ that came from the heart.
When I became a parent myself, I remembered the generosity of my students and their parents. And while I was committed to giving my son’s teachers great gifts, I often found myself scrambling to get something at the last minute… and not loving the gifts that I gave.
I have the perfect solution.
The teacher gift bundle.
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You’ll be glad you did.
Obviously, my 6×6 wall art can be given to anyone, not just teachers. They also make great gifts for mothers, sisters, wives & daughters! Collect them all!
When Monkey was entering kindergarten, he had to take a pre-screening test.
The shriveled woman sitting at a tiny desk asked him to draw a stick figure of a person, which he did perfectly. (Well, the arms were coming out of the head, but he remembered arms and hands and a few fingers.) She asked if he could recite his ABC’s (which, of course, he did because I had taught them to him.) She asked if he could spell his first and last name, and he could. (Well, at least his first name.) She asked him to count as high as he could, and then she gently told him he could stop… when he hit 50.
Sitting in the back of the room, I beamed.
Because I had taught him to count to 50.
Then Monkey and the tired, old test giver chatted it up a bit, during which time I assumed she was assessing his overall intellectual and emotional readiness.
(I swear I almost bowed and said, “Thank you! Thank you very much!)
Then Mrs. Tester asked Monkey a question.
“Tell me about your parents. What does your father do?”
And while he started simply enough, my child launched into a four-minute speech about what his daddy does every day at work. “My dad fixes eyes,” said my son, bursting with pride, making my spouse sound like the savior to all people born with eyes (which, let’s face it, is pretty much everyone, right?)
Four minutes is a really long time to listen to someone talk.
When they are not talking about you.
But that’s what I did.
Because secretly I was excited. I figured, well, if Monkey said all that about a man who’s home for three hours of his day, I can’t wait to hear what he is going to say about me. After all, I am the one who feeds him and bathes him and wipes his butt and cares for him when he is sick. (Except barf. Hubby takes care of all barf.) I am the one who shleps him to his activities and his play dates. I am the one who takes him to museums to introduce him to art. I am the one who reads to him and cuddles with him before naps and at bedtime. I am the one who plays games with him and makes grocery shopping and doing laundry fun.
Finally Mrs. Tester asked, “What does your mommy do?”
Monkey shifted around in his seat.
Except for the creak from his chair, the room was silent.
I sat at the back of the room and watched Monkey scratch his head.
“She talks on the phone a lot.”
What? My brain was silently screaming. What is that little freak talking about?!
I will not tell you about the ride home, where I asked Monkey to explain his big choke how he got stuck explaining what it is that I do ever day. About how he rationally explained that daddy was the one who made the money, and he really couldn’t figure out how to explain what I did.
Now, it is obviously not fair to dump all this on the child. Hubby is not the best facilitator when it comes to Mother’s Day. This is because he generally golfs on Sundays. And since Hubby is out playing with his wood relaxing with his boys, there is no one to oversee the “special last-minute Mother’s Day present making” in our house, and I’m not about to pull out the markers and demand, “Make me something to show me how much you love me!”
Let’s just say I have learned to keep my expectations for Mother’s Day kinda low.
Don’t get me wrong, my boy loves me.
I don’t really need a special day for him to show it. And, to be fair, Hubby always comes through with some kind of brunch.
(You know, after golf.)
Plus I have faith that one day, when he is a daddy, Monkey will have that moment of clarity that only comes while pacing across the floor at a ridiculous hour while cradling a fragile, little person who frickin’ refuses to sleep.
He will groggily realize, “My mom did this for me.”
And as the guilt gratitude washes over him in that late hour, perhaps he will consider ordering me some overpriced flowers from over the Internet.
Maybe he will even consider calling me.
And that reminds me.
I should probably call my mother.
How does Mother’s Day go at your house?What did you get that rocked your world? (Or didn’t.) Tell me everything. I’m living vicariously.
Picture me in third grade, roller skating with a certain someone special. Yummy Boy Billy is shorter than I am, but he is an awesome skater, and we are zooming around the rectangular gymnasium to The Bay City Rollers’ (what else?) “Saturday Night.” Suddenly, Yummy Boy decides to cross his right skate over his left on the turn. He falls, dragging me down with him. I was wearing my favorite pair of Levis, and they tore at the knee. I was so pissed. It was over before it started.
Fast forward to high school, a much beloved boyfriend got me one of those Cabbage Patch dolls for Valentine’s Day. Had I asked for a Cabbage Patch doll? No. Those suckers were creepy. (Still are.) But he gave me one, and in exchange for his gift, I gave him tongue. ‘Nuff said.
In college, I dated a guy who insisted that Valentine’s Day was an excuse for capitalist pigs to convince the masses they needed to buy ridiculous items to convince their companions of their undying love. Yeah, he was a cheap bastard. Our first Valentine’s Day together, he bought me a slice of pizza. For our second Valentine’s Day, he bought me a pencil with a heart eraser on the end of it. (Was he frickin’ kidding me?) For our third Valentine’s day, he bought me a fish tank. Why? Because he wanted fish. Still, it was better than nothing, and the bubbler turned out to be a lovely, relaxing way to fall asleep. We stayed together for one more year (what was I thinking?) but I believe things actually ended on or near Valentine’s Day, so he found a way to get out of that rather nicely. Oh, and when things went south, the fish tank stayed with him. Nice.
Husband is much better at Valentine’s Day. When we were in the “I-so-want-to-impress-this-woman” phase of our relationship, he made an amazing dinner at his friend Brian’s house. (Okay, maybe Brian made the dinner, but I’m sure Husband helped). We ate escargot and filet mignon and a green salad. And we drank wine. It should be noted that this was around the time that I punted a wineglass across Hubby’s living room floor causing it to smash against a wall into a zillion little pieces and, as an added bonus, coat the wall in a fabulous shade of blood-red. You would think someone would have thought to hand me a plastic glass, but no. That was the Valentine’s Day that I smashed an irreplaceable wine glass (hand blown in Germany and borrowed from Brian’s mother) against Brian’s stereo. (For all you young’uns out there, a stereo is a device we old folks used to use to play our music.) Anyway, Hubby wasn’t mad at me. Brian’s mother probably was, but Hubby made me feel okay about being human.
Over the years, Hubby has brought me flowers and made me breakfast. We’ve gone skiing, seen concerts, done great dinners. Lots of stuff. I don’t know what we’re doing this year, but Hubby did teach me that I am worth slightly more than the cost of a slice of pizza or a pencil. And for that, I am grateful.
I am also grateful to know that I do not have to work that hard as Hubby is genuinely happy with a bag of York Peppermint Patties – and a little tongue. ‘Nuff said.
So it’s Thanksgiving. I’ll tell you what I’m grateful for: My son, who decided to take over as today’s guest blogger and gave me a little extra vacation time. I was going to add more, but I think he’s about covered it.
Stuff I’m Thankful for at Eleven Years Old
1. Thanks for my family. They love and support me when I’m in a tough situation.
2. Thanks for life. It keeps me alive.
3. Thanks for friends. Those guys sometimes piss me off, but they are still awesome.
4. Thanks for entertainment. It makes us say: “ooh,” “aah,” and “oh no!”
5. Thanks for books. They help us learn and are great on car rides when you don’t want to get out of the car to do errands. You can say, “Do I have to go in? I’m reading.” That usually works.
6. Thanks for my Dad’s job. Without it we wouldn’t have enough money for everything we have today. Because everyone knows my mom’s job as a teacher doesn’t really pay very much.
7. Thanks for technology. Especially when it works.
8. Thank goodness for a little vacation. No school!
9. Thanks for blankets: Warmness!
10. Thanks for everything. Except the bad stuff. And luckily, we don’t have too much of that.
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