I forced Pythagorus, Addie, and Belle to accompany me to a game for my school's softball team today. Actually, that's not completely accurate--Belle absolutely worships one of my students and, when she found out that her "best friend" would be playing, couldn't get us there fast enough.
Since I've been a teacher, I've made it a point to attend games, sporting events, and other extracurricular activities. I chaperone pretty much every dance, and I buy something from every single student fundraiser (it's starting to be a running joke over who can get to Mrs. L first).
It never ceases to amaze me, though, how valuable those little things are to the kids I teach. The fact that I spent a perfect spring afternoon outside with my family watching a game I love seemed ... kind to the kids I teach, as if I was really going out of my way for them. Their appreciation--not just today and not just these students--for the extra attention you afford them is just so much larger than anything I did ... or do.
But it seems to me that, in a way, it's the little things that do make an impact. Those are the things you remember. Pythagorus used to send me flowers all the time (I hate getting flowers--they just die and you have to throw them away and I feel bad about that) and I can't really remember any one flower-sending experience ... but I can remember the pizzas he brought when he came to do a math tutoring session with my students (no, I don't teach math ... several students had some similar questions, and Pythagorus was kind of thrilled to work with kids again) or the lilacs (our bushes just bloomed : )) he cut for my mother on Sunday.
The small and the heart-felt are rarer ... perhaps that's why they seem to mean more. It's really easy to go to Macy's or Saks Fifth Avenue or Dick's Sporting Goods and spend a fortune on flashy presents.
What I've learned as I've gotten older, though, is that sometimes your presence is the best present. It's often a very little thing, just showing up at a two hour baseball game, yet it means the world to others.
So what do you think? Presents ... or presence?