to give "the teacher" when you are a kid? It's that end of year ritual when you are supposed to tell your teacher they are the "best ever" and hand over something your Mum has bought. You don't really want to do it because you like your teacher so much it's a bit embarrassing or you hate your teacher so much that you don't want to give them anything at all.
It is the end of the school year in Upover and the gift giving thing was being discussed on social media. I glanced at it because someone I know mentioned what her children were giving their teachers.
And I remembered what had happened to me and my brother when we were kittens. Oh yes, we were expected to give presents to our teachers. I can't remember what I gave my first teacher. I gave the second one a plant in a pot. I had grown it myself. It probably died during the long summer holiday. I don't remember what I gave my third teacher either. It was probably much the same as the other children. Teachers got a lot of handkerchiefs in those days.
I hated my fourth grade teacher with a passion. She would roam around with a ruler in her hands and come down on your knuckles with a crack if she didn't like what you were doing. It was not the only thing she would do either. Nowadays she would be accused of assault and removed from the classroom. Back then we were expected to tolerate it.
At the end of the year my mother told me I was expected to give the usual present. I refused. I "forgot" to take the present to school.
I worried about what my mother would do when she found the "forgotten" present.
I soon discovered I was not the only child who had "forgotten". One of the boys had been given a small box of chocolates for the teacher. He shared them out instead. Of course my mother arrived and gave the present to me and stood there while I handed it over. I was, perhaps rightly, punished.
I remembered all this years later. I had taught a class of children for just part of the year. They were a great bunch of kids. We got on well together even though they were football fanatics and I couldn't have cared less. I taught them all to knit, boys as well as girls. (We also looked at the way men had knitted in the past.) They made themselves simple beanies in their football colours. Every kid bar one had finished theirs. He was the only boy who kept insisting he wasn't interested.
On the last day of school we decorated the classroom. We had a party and shared the food they had brought in. Some of the mothers were Greek and Italian and we had to share out the excess food with the class next door. Nobody grumbled about clearing up afterwards. I was going to read the last chapter of the book we had been reading on Friday afternoons.
Everything was cleared away and they were quiet after the party buzz. I read the chapter. There were about ten minutes to go before I knew I would have to make sure they were cleared out for the last time. I knew something was up.
And then one of the boys stood up and said, "Miss we have something for you."
They all opened their desks and put their beanies on, even the boy who had insisted he wasn't interested was wearing his - although I suspect he had help to finish it. The boy who had spoken handed a small parcel over to me. Inside it was a beanie. They had all had a hand in making it.
Every single one of them gave me another small present at the end of the day. I can't remember any of them but I wore that beanie the next year. I wore it until I left the school at the end of the winter term. It was far from perfect but that didn't matter. They had made it for me.