At Christmastime I was watching my sister unwrap her teacher gifts from all of her students. There were plenty of lotions and soaps and candles. A few parents gave gift certificates to malls or restaurants and there were the obligatory Christmas doodads. Teachers are magnets for the “Under $15″ gift.
In the middle of the piles of holiday-wrapped goodies there was one stinky plastic grocery bag. It reeked of cigarette smoke and the musty odor of unwashed people crammed in an unaired apartment. Inside was an old spiral notebook with several pages torn out. The other pages were covered in crayon scribbles. A few dirty and dull crayons were also in the bag, along with one chewed and weary #2 pencil. The accompanying note said, in a kindergartner’s handwriting something we assumed meant ‘Merry Christmas from Justine*’.
That was the best Christmas present my sister has ever gotten from a student. That little girl gave her everything she had. She gave a precious book of drawings and her last few crayons, I’m sure.
I just got off the phone with my sister. Yesterday was the 100th day of school, and they always do a ream (which is actually a 1000, but whatever) of activities to drive home the point of “100” and teach the value of that number. One of the activities involved asking the kids what they’d do with $100. Most kids wanted X-box games, American Girl dolls and other typical 6 year old dreams.
When they got to Justine she had a very simple answer.
“I would buy lots of groceries.”
God in Heaven. There is a six-year-old child whose fondest dream is to have lots of groceries. Toys do not even exist in her comprehension of the world. A toy is so far down her list of priorities that she doesn’t even think to mention it when she’s dreaming big. Her big dream is to eat.
I can’t even think of anything else to say about it. Her dream is to buy groceries. That kills me.