Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's the Little Things ...

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?


  1. I agree. I hate getting presents, I like presence so much more. :D

  2. There's something more honest, more pure about a heartfelt moment than a gift in a box.

  3. Well...I'm never one to turn down a gift from my hubby, particularly if it's in a jewelry sized box. But I like when he notices how tired I am and cleans up the kitchen after dinner. Or simply holds my hand in the car.

    Its the little things I remember or treasure, although I can treasure the strand of pearls he got me last year for my birthday. LOL

  4. When we remember things, we are remembering moments.
    - the hug from a long-dead grandparent
    - the smell of a freshly baked apple pie
    - our first kiss.
    How many of the things that we remember are large events and how many small things?

    Remembering the little things is how we're wired. We're tuned to the local, to the personal. It's why families mean so much.

  5. Seriously I'm not going to be disingenuous, gifts are nice. But I really do like the little things, getting a card out of the blue in the mail, or a phone call in the middle of the day, coming to family events when I know he'd rather drink curdled milk, means a ton to me, more than a diamond tennis bracelet, but I'm not going to turn one down if someone wants to bestow a bracelet on me.