Monday, 21 July 2008

Teacher's present etiquette. Why someone needs to write a book.

I've said it before but I'll repeat myself because I can: there is a market for a book telling parents who are about to send their first child off to school what school etiquette is. There are so many things you just don't know and I'm sure they become readily apparent the first time you've embarrassed yourself hugely in front of all the other parents/teachers/head teacher/pupils. But it would be nice to avoid that embarrassment and just be able to read up on what is supposed to happen.

For example, tomorrow is the last day that my son will be at pre-school forever (unless he keeps forgetting how to wipe his own bottom and the big school sends him back for another year's hygiene training). And until very recently, it skipped my notice that as a parent with nothing else to do or money to spend on things, you are supposed to buy teachers presents at the end of the year, particularly if you're leaving and never coming back.

This fact actually came to my attention a couple of months ago but was like a ball of fluff. It just drifted in one ear and out the other and I didn't think twice about it. Until today. Actually until an hour ago. So what do you get for a teacher at 7pm the night before the day it is to be presented? In fact what do you get them full stop? And are you just supposed to give the main teacher a present or all the staff? You see how many questions there are that a book could easily explain. I can see paragraphs being consumed on this subject alone.

So back to the subject of what to get them. I've been advised that wine is always well received. I'm sure it is. It's quite well received in this house too. And although I could afford to buy one not-totally-vile-and-semi-drinkable bottle, I certainly don't feel like paying for it five times over to thank all the staff. If I'm going to spend that much on wine I'd like to be the person consuming it. I mean it is these same people who send my children home with glitter and pine needle art so how big a thank you should they get? Despite all these very good arguments for not buying wine, the decision is somewhat made for me as we have none left in the house (why we invested in a wine fridge I'll never know - it's never full). So that's the end of the wine discussion.

Moving on. I could get son to wake up early tomorrow morning (he does anyway) and create a lovely piece of art for them (pay back time - I'll go digging for grass shavings now). But I fear that they probably won't appreciate yet another piece of - let's face it - fairly dire artwork. They probably see enough of it in their day jobs so taking it on holiday with them probably won't happen. So scratch that off the list.

I believe that gawdy trinkets like a pink ceramic elephant with tears running down its cheeks holding a sign saying: I'll miss you my best teacher, are considered naff. And rightly so. Which is good because we don't have any of those in the house either.

Which leaves one thing. Baked goods. I can do baked goods. I'm not convinced the teachers want baked goods. I have no idea if they have nut allergies or on a mega-slimming programme before trying to squeeze into their summer bikinis. But quite frankly, tough. It's chocolate brownies in cellophane bags with gold ties (because I do just happen to have some of those in the house, a carry over from my walnut packing episode several years ago... it's a long story) and they will take them and smile. If they feed them to family, hand them in at a homeless shelter or drop them in a bin, I don't care. It's the thought that counts. And the bloody effort at this time on a Monday evening (particularly because Husband still has to bring home the chocolate as I don't have enough.)

So there, dilemma solved. But I was seconds away from embarrassing myself by arriving empty handed. And given I still have another child who has to spend two full years there, and given his propensity for peeing in his pants, I probably need to curry favour now. Now if someone had just written a book about this, I would have had none of these conundrums.

Must bake.

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