Today was the last day of term for the children, and of course the school corridors have been filled with the squeals of delight, laughter and happiness of the children as they get to play with their own toys and wear their own clothes.
The chatter in the staffroom has consisted of "how many boxes of maltesers have you had?", "I've had three bottles of rose, my children know me so well" and "Little Johnny brought me a beautiful bunch of flowers, look how gorgeous they are!" and it is lovely to hear such jollity from everyone at such a fraught time of year. But I've had a little cry in the toilets four times today.
I have worked in that school for six and a half years and been a teacher for ten years. Since I've gone back after having The Boy, I work part-time and cover the teacher's non-contact time.
Not one child or parent has given me a card or present as a 'thank you' present, and I am the only person in the school to not receive anything. Cleaners, secretaries, dinner ladies, cook, caretaker, LSAs, head teacher and teachers all had something. Even the lollipop lady had flowers and chocolate. But me?
It is not about the chocolates or wine or value of anything. It is not that I am having a sulk because I am the one who has been left-out. Presents from children at the end of the year are a token to show that they and, let's face it because they buy them, the parents appreciate your work with their child.
I have read much this week on twitter from people complaining about having to buy presents for their child's teacher and I understand that frustration. But no-one is forcing you to spend £10+ per adult. Just a home-made card from a child is brilliant. The nicest present I ever had a was a German chocolate-cake from one of my students who knew that it was my favourite and had helped her mother bake it. (Incidentally, my most awkward present was £30 cash in an envelope)
Don't think of it as a tip or an obligation; think of it as a token of your thanks for how hard that the teacher has worked with your child. Think of it as a sign of recognition that teaching is an all-consuming job. Think of it as just a small gesture to show that they are appreciated.
Because I currently feel worthless and unappreciated.