We’ve seen it in movies, read the cliché in books, and maybe even done it ourselves – given an apple to a favorite teacher. It’s a way to show appreciation or maybe do a little kissing up!
I was reminded of the tradition this week, when I received the first gifts from my students. But – there were no apples.
My husband was the first to receive a food item. It was a stick of processed meat, which we couldn’t identify until opening it after school. It smelled like seafood and his first tentative bite was his last. It’s the thought that counts, right?
My first present was from a young girl – who after arriving in class handed me a warm piece of corn on the cob. It’s really not that unusual here – she must have bought it from a street vendor. It just struck me so funny…really, corn on the cob? Other children want to share their lunches with me – offering cookies and cherry tomatoes. Don’t worry, I also get dessert! Children walk into class reach into their pockets and whatever candy they pull out is suddenly thrust in my face. I accept it all with a big smile and shower the children with gratitude.
Actually, I have declined one gift. The same little girl that gave me corn on the cob later offered me a nail clipper she retrieved from her pocket. I don’t know if that was a comment on my personal hygiene, but I had to insist she keep such a generous offering.
But, my favorite gift so far was so simple and sweet and it didn’t cost a dime. After class, I thought a little girl wanted to whisper a secret to me, so I bent down and got a kiss on the cheek instead. She smiled real big, shouted “bye teacher” and was off – and that just made my day.