Every year at the holiday’s we try get a small gift for the boys’ teachers. It’s usually not much, but we hope that it shows we appreciate what they do for our kids. It’s usually a gift card of some sort, and a lot of times it’s for Target (because if I shop there on a regular basis, that means everyone else does too, right?). We go the gift card route because I generally don’t know the teacher’s interests and my boys aren’t the most helpful in collecting that information. Besides, with a gift card the teacher can choose what they want to spend it on (and a lot of teachers I know would choose to put the money to use in their classroom anyway).
This year was no exception. The week before school let out for winter break I picked up a gift card for Brendan and Cameron’s teachers. I also got a card and had each boy sign his card himself to present to the teacher. They were both very excited to get to do this part of the project and happy to be able to take a present to their teacher. I sent the gifts with them on the Thursday before school let out so that if they forgot to give their teacher the gift I still had one day for them to try again. Amazingly, they both managed to deliver the cards on the first attempt (I can’t say I’ve had as much success with other things that need turned in to the school).
That afternoon when we picked them up, Brendan had something he wanted to ask me. But as he was attempting to ask it, he was getting all tongue tied and confused. After a couple of minutes of prompting and deciphering I finally figured out that what he was asking was to get more gift cards. At first I thought he wanted to get more for his classroom teacher, which warmed my heart a little because that meant he was beginning to like her as much as he had his third grade teacher. Then he clarified more, he wanted to give gifts to more than his classroom teacher. A few more clarifications later and I finally figured out he was asking if he could get a gift for both his math teacher and his third grade teacher. Matt, who had also been listening to this garbled conversation, and I looked at one another and instantly agreed to the request. We hadn’t thought to get gifts for those individuals, but how could we say no when Brendan was wanting to share generously with others.
His third grade teacher made a lot of sense to us anyway. We hadn’t been sure if he’d want to get her anything or not. While we know she will always hold a special place in his heart he’s been really funny about going to see her this year. We can tell that he wants to, but he always makes excuses about why he doesn’t like it’s too far out of his way or he doesn’t want to interrupt her. His math teacher surprised me a little bit more, but not as much as you might think. I’d been up to the school to volunteer that week and had the chance to meet his math teacher for the first time and after talking with him I got the impression that he and Brendan got along really well.
So that Thursday night Brendan and I went back to Target and got two more gift cards for the other teachers. He was even more thrilled to take part in the purchasing of the gift cards than he had been to sign his name to his card the day before. He took special care to pick just the right design for each of the teachers and to learn and understand how money is put onto a gift card and how they get used. Friday morning we made sure to have him sign both of the new cards and place them into his backpack for delivery.
There are days when Brendan has a terribly greedy side to him. Times when we will be out shopping or running errands and he demands to be bought something at every single stop we make. Times when he’ll throw a fit in the middle of a store because we won’t buy him something that we already own (such as a movie). But then there are other times when he has the most generous soul of any person I’ve ever met. Teachers at school tell us over and over again that he would practically give anyone in his class the shirt off his back if that’s what they needed. He stacks chairs without needing to be asked, helps classmates pick their things up or find something they are missing. He’s polite, helpful, and generous with all that he has.
I try hard to remember those things when I’m dealing with the whiny, snarky, greedy Brendan because generosity like that, straight from the heart, is so hard to find these days.