Playing Santa on Teachers' Day

Playing Santa on Teachers' Day

If you, like me, are a mum of school-going kids, you would probably have done at least one of the following in the past week: baking, buying cards and presents, or stocking up on packaging materials.

The frenzied cooking, shopping and wrapping may remind you of Christmas - and that is what Teachers' Day now feels like, given the pressure among today's parents to play Santa to anyone with a hand in moulding their children's future.

I recently ran into a friend as she was busy picking gifts for her kids' teachers. Her teenage daughter alone has 18 teachers, she said, much to my shock. I assumed she had factored in all the private tutors as well.

Still, I remained oblivious to the fuss at first. I'm ashamed to say I had never given so much as a cookie crumb to my son's teachers during his four years in kindergarten.

It wasn't that they didn't deserve to be feted. All his teachers had been nothing but warm and nurturing, and my son, now in Primary 1, still speaks fondly of his pre-school days.

But this day has been tainted with some of the crass commercialism that plagues Christmas and Valentine's Day, and I was loath to play along.

So I was prepared, as usual, to sit out this year's Teachers' Day, which was celebrated last Thursday in my kids' schools and marked by a school holiday islandwide last Friday.

But there came a string of messages last Tuesday night from a WhatsApp chat group set up with three mums of my son's classmates.

It began with a picture of five wooden plaques adorned with pretty flowers finger-painted by one of the mum's kids.

"My child-labour factory produced some Teachers' Day gifts just now," the accompanying message read.

As we admired the efforts, the other two mums revealed their plans to bake cookies. Uh-oh, I thought. Is it now a standard practice to give everyone something on Teachers' Day, I asked.

No, they assured me, but it would be nice to show some appreciation, especially for the deserving ones.

As a discussion ensued on who these were among our boys' teachers, it struck me that they have all made a difference in one way or another.

Ms N, the form teacher, is ever so sweet and patient. She never loses her cool and makes it a point to give a handwritten card to every boy in class ahead of his birthday, complete with a personal message and stickers.

Ms L, who teaches English, makes painstaking notes on every piece of work that the boys submit, detailing how they can do better or turning her "O"s into cute cartoon eyes when she pens "good" for commendable efforts.

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