Tuesday, January 05, 2010

what's in my coffee mug

There seems to be a phenomenon that has been going on around me that I had yet to be made aware of. (BTW, I know you’re not supposed to end a sentence in a preposition, but I like to.) I was discussing how the last few weeks before Christmas turned my children, who had been doing a much better job this year, into psychotic psychopaths (I also like to repeat myself). Somehow the conversation turned to Christmas gifts. I told my friend I was feeling rather strange about one of the parents (of a child who makes me want to throw myself off a cliff) giving me a fifteen dollar gift card to some dessert place. Heretofore, I had only received an immense supply of coffee mugs, pictures of my students, and homemade cookies (those are rare). There seemed to be something different about receiving a gift card. One it felt like cash, which would be an odd gift to a teacher, and two it could be something I could actually use (unlike the endless supply of tacky coffee mugs (I don’t use coffee mugs, especially theme coffee mugs [I have yet to receive a mermaid one, which would be the exception]). I almost felt like I should turn the gift card into the office or the district or something. As a teacher, I’m not supposed to accept things like that, right?
Following my confession, my friend (who teaches kindergarten), proceeded to tell me about what he typically gets from his parents. It seemed this year was rather sparse. He only received Three Hundred dollars in gift cards and cash (Cash!). Three hundred dollars—nope it wasn’t a typo or an exaggeration. I stood there, my jaw grazing the coffee shop floor as he continued to tell me of years past and the extravagance he and other teacher friends are accustomed to (see, dangling preposition again, I should have written ‘to which his friends are accustomed’—notice that I’m not doing that. I know, rebel. Pretty sexy, huh?). I let this fascinate me for the remaining days of break, wondering what other perks one might receive when teaching in Cherry Creek (for those of you who are unlucky enough not to live here [if you live in San Diego or Hawaii, consider yourself exempt from that jab] Cherry Creek is the ritzy {that’s right, ritzy} part of Denver). Upon returning to school yesterday, I was sharing my fascination (and partly confessing to receiving a gift card) to other teachers at my school. While they were impressed with how much my friend received, they began to tell me what they typically get from their students—Fifty Dollar gifts cards and such to Barnes & Noble, different nice restaurants, coupons for hookers (just seeing if you’re paying attention), etc.
It seems this is commonplace and expected. I don’t remember ever giving my teachers cash and gift cards from my parents. I think it was like candy or something.
So far, when I have expressed my shock and utter bewilderment at such treatment, every teacher has said, “Well, look at your population that you work with (DP, again). No wonder.”
So, I have decided the next time a parent asks me why their student is abusive to them at home and what my advice would be, I am just going to casually remind them that children learn to be kind to other through examples. Without any other words, I will primly slide an already made form with a list of desired behaviors and which teacher gifts correspond with the specific desired effect.
Beginning to do homework and household chores……$10 gift card to Sonic
Showing love and respect to parents and others………$50 gift card to Amazon.com
Reading on grade level and having internal happiness..Gift card to the hooker who looks like Ricky Martin

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