When we vowed last year to cut out all non-immediate family gift buying, I forgot we’d have to add two members to the gift buying “family” this year: my daughter’s new nursery school teacher and her assistant. So much for cutting back.
But as Stefenie Ilgenfritz pointed out in The Juggle yesterday, not every parent agrees on what’s considered “appropriate” to spend on the teacher. In this economy, not everyone can AFFORD to spend on the teacher.
Like any blog, this one got some comments that were just way off the wall. Like the mom who says money’s tight, but she can’t “bear” to contribute less than $100 to the group gift for the preschool teachers. She’s going to give another $100 to the two women who run the home daycare where her other kid spends the day. Therein lies the problem. The percentage of parents who would consider spending $100 on a group gift for the preschool when times are tight are few and far between.
Good for her that she has that kind of cash lying around (I’m not doubting she worked hard for it – or someone in her family did) and that she’s generous enough to share it. But she makes the rest of us look like crap. A bag of cookies lovingly decorated by your toddler? Makes you look chintzy when the other parent strolls in with a wallet from Coach in their glittery bag.
And if we’re truly talking about a group gift, I thought the point was to pool your resources so a little can go a long way. My little is $5, $10; not of a heck of a lot less than I’d spend if I was going it alone. To be honest, I wouldn’t spend $100 on a group gift for the teacher even if the economy was booming like it was 1999. I value my daughter’s teachers – don’t get me wrong. But I pay for nursery school. When she goes on to kindergarten, I’ll be paying for that too – via my taxes. I think a small token of my daughter’s appreciation is enough.
Because, honestly, isn’t that what the teachers are there for? The kids? People talk about teachers getting low pay – and in some areas that’s very true (I consider myself VERY blessed with what we pay for my daughter’s nursery school, don’t get me wrong) – but I don’t think that’s something that can be fixed with an over-the-top Christmas gift. They took the job because they love kids, crappy pay or not. If the gift really comes from the kid, it’s the kind of thing they’ll hold on to, even if it’s worth less than the paper it’s drawn on.