Budgie Smuggling

I did a post around Christmas time about giving teacher’s gifts. In that post I noted that the most important aspect of receiving a gift is that as a teacher you feel appreciated and validated. It’s not necessarily the amount spent on it, or what it is, it’s the gesture that says, “Thanks for teaching our kid, we recognise the effort you have put into giving him a great education.”

Having said that, let me note, (please see the smile on my face, as I say this, I’m truly not being nasty!), that receiving teacher’s gifts is a bit like a lucky dip. Sometimes you receive these incredible gifts that you keep for a long time (unless it’s a favoured brand of chocolate) and really adore. Other times you receive things that are not quite compatible with your taste and style. You are far more likely to receive a gift in the 2nd category when the parent has given a child a small amount of money and let them choose (normally from Crazy Clark’s) whatever they like for their teacher.

Today I was remembering one such gift.

The thing with child chosen gifts, is that the child does give you the gift very excitedly, with the utmost pride, thinking it is the best thing on the face of the earth. (OK, so it’s basically the same as your child shopping at the mother’s day stall, isn’t it?)

One Christmas little ‘Domino’ came in bearing a classic child chosen gift. His little dimples were creating huge craters in his cheeks as he handed it to me, and he was jumping from foot to foot in eager anticipation of my expression as I opened a charming plaster blue budgerigar. I used all my year 12 speech and drama skills to express my delight in such a charming speciman. Luckily I had a great story to back up my delight, I used to own a blue budgie as a child so I was able to say how nice it was to be reminded of my childhood pet.

Knowing that the plaster budgie probably wouldn’t fit in with my decor at home, I told Domino that it was such a lovely budgie that I might keep it in my classroom to cheer me up. From time to time, Domino would come and visit me as he progressed up the grades, and he would always check for the budgie and tell any nearby child that he was my budgie benefactor.

When the time came for me to leave the school, Domino’s family were quite upset. We had developed a great relationship over the years, I had taught two of their boys. Their little girl had been wanting me to be her teacher since she was two years old and always used to come in and give me cuddles at the end of the day after teaching her brother. But sadly, it wasn’t going to happen.

It’s always a pleasure watching a family grow and develop. I’d also wished that I could have taught the youngest of their four children, because it would have been a great story to tell. I could have related to many interested (or not) persons that I was teaching a child, and I could remember the swimming carnival where her mother went into labour with her. The mother made all the teacher’s nervous that night. She refused to go to the hospital until she had seen all her children’s events. Even the teacher designated to do First Aid for the night, was in a little bit of a panic reading the first aid manual on how to deliver babies. Luckily the boys finished their races and the mother had time to get to the hospital to deliver their little girl.

However, it was a new chapter in my life, and like all new chapters you have to say goodbye to treasured memories and precious people. I finished school at the end of term and had come in during the holidays to pack up my classroom. It just so happened that as I was packing my last box Domino’s family drove by and saw my car and decided to call in and say a last goodbye. So, I finished up. Their Dad was kind enough to carry my boxes down to my car and I hugged the kids before walking out of the classroom for the last time. I was about to lock up when all of a sudden Domino noticed the budgie perched on the window sill. “Mrs T! You’ve forgotten this!”

Of course I gasped in horror, (once again using my incredible acting skills), picked the plastered bird up, (thinking I might have to go and get plastered myself since the bird was making it’s way ever so closer to my own home). As I stuffed it into the top of an open box, I didn’t betray for a moment that I was doing a time honoured teaching tradition of leaving unwanted children’s gifts in the classroom for the following teacher to inherit.

I went overseas and taught. When I returned to Australia my teaching boxes remained closed because I started the honourable occupation of motherhood. Not so long ago, I opened one of my teaching boxes because I was looking for a book that I wanted to use with the boys. J Boy was with me. What would he first see? Of course, the rejected bird, lying at the top of the box. J Boy would have brought a tear to Domino’s eye. He adored the bird. With the utmost tenderness he carried the bird into the house. That was it. The budgie was in. And it didn’t even require a budgie smuggler. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist … It’s my hopeless early childhood sense of humour.)

Why am I remembering it? I just looked out into my garden. This is what I saw.

I have to admit. It made me smile. J Boy’s little gnome has found a pal.

Do you know what?

I think it suits my decor after all.

Has anyone else got a dreadful present that has kind of grown on you over the years?

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Aspiring Gynaecologists

I taught my doctor’s son in year 2 & 3. He is now a young man in year 11, which makes me feel quite old.

I was remembering the other day a writing task I set in year 2 at the conclusion of a unit we were completing called, “People Who Help Us”. The task was simple. Write about what profession you would choose to be when you grew up. Once we established that being a princess or a super hero could not be considered as a viable occupation for most people, the children began to deliberate and write about the range of professions we had discussed over the prior weeks.

Doc’s Son was a very studious young man, and being particularly bright was one of the first finished. He joined the line at my desk to get his work edited. Unfortunately he was standing next to a rather rambunctious young man who decided to have a chat about their chosen professions. When Doc’s Son shared that he wanted to be a gynaecologist little Master Rambunctious questions, (at the top of his voice) “What’s a Gynaecologist?” Of course this line of enquiry instantly gained the immediate attention of the rest of the class, and various members of the class also wanted to know the meaning of such an impressive big word. (Because up until now the only long worded profession of interest had been a palaeontologist.)

I was suddenly put on the spot. Being in the middle of a whole heap  of fertility treatments, I was far to familiar with varied roles of the gynaecologist, and I was a bit lost for words. In that moment of confusion I asked Doc’s Son to explain to the rest of the class what a gynaecologist is. I immediately realised that this could go very badly and crossed my fingers as the little guy started responding.

“A Gynaecologist,” he seriously stated, “Is a doctor who helps ladies have babies.”

Phew. Crisis averted.

Kind of.

All of a sudden the majority of the female members of the class wanted to change their chosen professions. It now seemed that Gynaecology was in vogue, and babies were far more interesting then chef’s, nurses and air hostesses. Even a few boys were ready to drop their dream of being a fire fighter, police officer or digger driver to join the medical profession. I was getting multiple requests to spell ‘gynaecologist’ on the board. Of course I did what any good teacher would and shut it down. (Considering the lack of ob/gyn’s in my town now and other regional centres, this may have been a hasty move.)

Of course I was met with all types of whining, “But Mrs. T I really want to be a gynaecologist” or “I’d be a great gynaecologist, I love babies” etc. etc. To which I insisted that they should be almost finished their writing and no one was going to change at this stage of the process unless they wanted to finish it during their lunch hour. Of course no one wanted to pay such a high price to change occupations so they resumed writing about their first choices.

Luckily they had all forgotten how to pronounce “gynaecologist” by the end of the day and I got no puzzled questions from parents wondering what I had been teaching their children.

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