Today was the last day of school... YEAH! I say YEAH, but it was a really amazing year for all of the kids. I couldn't have asked for better teachers for all four kids. To me it means everything to know that the adult my child is spending more time with than me, is having a positive influence on their future. That sounds ridiculous, but it is so true. Think back on your own school career. Think about the teachers that were wonderful and inspired you to be your best, now think about the teachers who made you feel small, less than. I spend the majority of my time as a parent building my children up, but it only takes a hurtful, careless word from an adult authority figure to tumble that self-esteem tower down. The kids spend so much of their year with these adults that we as parents do not pick. If you think about it, so much could go wrong, and yet for my children, so much has been right.
We have been blessed to have beautiful supportive teachers for our children, most especially this year. One of those beautiful teachers was Elly's. Elly's teacher, Mrs. Bateman taught Riley and Rowan before her. She is that rare gentle, beautiful soul who encourages "her" children to be their best. I say "her" children because that is the way she treats them. When you catch her looking at the students in her class, she has this ethereal look of love on her face for the most part. She has a gentle voice that encourages them. She has warm arms always ready to embrace them when they need that. She doesn't care if she may look silly to adults she will dance and sing with her children, basking in their innocent joy. She is that rare gem in teaching. If I could hand pick a teacher for my children, Mrs. Bateman would be it. She is that gentle introduction to school. She encourages them to take risks academically, but allows them to feel safe to make mistakes.
I do not have enough words to sing her praises, there is only one huge fault with our beautiful Mrs. Bateman, she decided to retire at the end of this school year.
The question is what do you get as an end of school gift for an amazing teacher, an amazing teacher who will never again receive another end of the year gift. I try to give thoughtful gifts for teachers, most especially the great ones. Christopher's sister Shannon is a teacher, and I know that she could safely have no hydro for ten years and never be without light. The scented candle is a favourite teacher gift. She also has enough mugs and Tim's cards to give coffee to the town of Acton. Because I think that it is a thoughtful gift, doesn't mean that said teacher will. I try to stay away from cute child crafted gifts because honestly how many macaroni necklaces does anyone really need (or even want)? Having said all of this I decided to ignore my own rules, just this once. When Gabe went to nursery school, he had the most beautiful, kind hearted nursery school teacher. As an end of the year gift I made her a pillow with Gabe's hand print in the center. I was a young, poor mom at the time, and thought it was an adorable gift. As I became the mother of more than one child and be came more worldly I often thought about what a lame gift that was. If I was Maureen I would have tossed that cushion in the Good Will donation box. I ran into a now retired Maureen a couple of years ago. She made a point of telling me how much she had loved that cushion, and that it still sat on her couch, and every time she looked at it, it made her smile. It was this memory which caused my change of heart for Mrs. Bateman's gift.
For Mrs. Bateman's last gift from a class, Elly and I created a picture. I cut down a piece of bristol board and placed it on the kitchen table. My very excited little artist was chomping at the bit, too excited to get working on her teacher's gift. I applied craft paint to her tiny baby hands, and she slapped it down, again and again onto that bristol board. Her little face was just glowing with joy. When we had finished her part, we put the picture up to dry. When Christopher came in from work that night she dragged him over to see her art. She was vibrating with excitement and pride. That night I worked on highlighting her hand prints and making her adorable little finger and thumb prints look like lady bugs and bumble bees. When she got up the next morning for school, the first thing she had to do is peek at her art. She let out a gasp, "Oh Mommy", her little chubby hand clasped to the smile on her little rosebud mouth. Her eyes twinkled with pride and delight.
The night before she was going to give Mrs. Bateman her gift, I got out my poster paint markers. We discussed what she would like to write on her picture. I wrote down what she transcribed. She then copied my words, and added her own little bit. When she wrote "from Elly" she added "and Mommy", and then "We love you Mrs. Bateman". That night she could barely sleep for the excitement of giving her gift.
I honestly don't know if Mrs. Bateman liked her gift, I mean she was an excellent actress and acted like she did. It doesn't matter if she liked her gift or not. I mean I really do want for her to have liked it. If she didn't like it, she can always pop the picture out and use the picture frame. What really matters is how much pride it gave Elly to give that gift. She was so proud of the art that she had created for her beloved teacher. Beautiful Mrs. Bateman acted like it was her most favourite gift EVER, and not in that fake way that I do. This made Elly feel so important, so validated. Oh Mrs. Bateman you are such an amazing teacher, and not just teacher, person, our school will not be quite the same without your warm smile.