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Staring back at me from my socks

I played golf last week with a friend and brought a little bit of my former students along for comfort and support.

One of my students (whose mother has given me permission to post this photo) gave me a gift on every day of Teacher Appreciation Week. This, of course, is never, ever necessary, but one of those gifts was a pair of socks decorated with her face in hopes that I would “never, ever” forget her.

Hazel needn’t give me socks to ensure that I would never forget her, but they have been a joyous gift indeed. Wearing them to play golf both made my friend laugh repeatedly throughout the round, but they also made me feel good every time I topped or duffed or chunked or shanked a shot.

The result of the shot was still terrible, but having Hazel stare back at me from my ankles made me feel a lot better.

A much needed reminder in that moment that I was still good at something.

The other gift that I carried with me during that round of golf – which I always carry with me – is another Teacher Appreciation gift from last year. As I tell my students every year, the only gift I ever want from them is to “Work hard and be kind,” but if they must give me something, a clever, homemade gift is always appreciated.

Over the years, students have given me extraordinary homemade gifts. A cage for my poorly behaved students, constructed from twine and wooden hoops, and hung from my ceiling. Lego recreations of famous Shakespearean scenes. A homemade but surprisingly effective hatchet. Ceramic bowls with amusing and insulting messages written inside. Letters, cards, poems, and art that I will treasure forever.

Last year, four of my students came Christmas caroling at my home. It was an amazing and hilarious surprise.

This student, as you can see in the photo, took an Apples to Apples game card for the word “brilliant” and added my name to the list of synonyms.

And yes, I wish she had capitalized my last name, but somehow forgetting to capitalize the name seems even more fitting.

I keep it in my wallet as a reminder on on those challenging days that I’m not nearly as stupid as I sometimes feel.

Hazel and another one of my former students also attended my book launch party last week, which was also a remarkable gift to me.

Knowing that I am still remembered by my former students might be the best gift of all.