20 July 2011

I'm probably going to open up a can of worms with this post. It's the final week of term and school is almost out for summer. This week Lily bought home a letter in a small brown envelope. It contained a polite note from a collective of parents of children in her class, offering other parents a chance to contribute some money that would be put towards a thank you gift for the class teacher and her assistant.

Now, don't get me wrong. I think that teachers do an amazing job and I truly believe that Lily has been blessed to have the teacher she's had for the last academic year. But when did all this 'showering teachers with gifts' start? When I was at school it didn't happen. The nearest thing to it would be if a long standing member of teaching staff was to retire. Then a collection would be arranged and a gift presented in assembly. But these occasions were few and far between. Now it's an annual event. Many 'big' high street shop are displaying their ranges of teacher gifts and cards. Somehow its saddled itself up there with Valentine's day and Halloween and people seem to be buying into it; quite literally.

There is a pressure of sorts. I dare say the teacher's aren't at all bothered. In fact, some may almost dread the onslaught of cards, chocolates, wine, bath oils and whatever else they might receive. With thirty plus children in a class that's an awful lot of stuff. On the other hand you might choose to not join the band wagon, but do you want your child to be the one who doesn't bring in anything for their teacher on the last day of term?

I can see why the note went out about contributing towards a gift. It cuts down on overall gifts and it means the teacher will actually get something nice and useful, as the mother's behind it would, I know buy something 'just right'. But, I don't feel comfortable with it; donating money. Surely the gift is from the child to show their appreciation to their teacher. How is me pulling some money out of my purse teaching Lily anything positive?

Knowing that this was on the horizon, I spoke with Lily about it a few weeks ago. She really wanted to give something to her teacher, teaching assistant and, as she is leaving the school, something to her head mistress too. She then said that she would like to make them presents. I am totally and utterly comfortable with that. We sat down and surfed the net for inspiration of what to make. We came up with these 'teacher boxes', which Lily & I covered with patterned papers and fixed with a ribbon tie. We then bought a number of goodies to fill the boxes with from hand cream & nail files to penny chews and paperclips. Lily was immensely proud of them and so enjoyed making them. She has been excited all week about presenting these gifts to her teachers.

Lots of mums reading this are probably saying that they don't have time to make presents. I don't have time either. I ordered the boxes online late one night, shopped for the content whilst in town last week and almost burnt Sunday lunch whilst juggling cooking with helping Lily assemble and decorate the boxes. I'm not trying to give this 'perfect mummy' image or prove a point; not at all. It was just important to both myself and Lily that we created some time to put in a bit of thought and effort, rather than do 'cash' or buy something the high street shops are flaunting at parents at this time of year. The 'easier' options just don't cut it for me. That's just my personnel opinion.

But I do find myself asking this; is making time to teach our children real appreciation and expressions of thankfulness becoming a dying art into today's hectic time-starved family lives? Do you still make your children write thank you notes or do you just fire off a quick thank you text? Feel free to post your comments below.


  1. honestly you make the best stuff. and I'm totally with you on the endless gifting of things (don't get me started on the peer pressure of party bags!)

  2. Thank you. Oh party bags are a whole other world aren't they!