The night before the last day of school my son and I were hard at work making presents for his teachers. We made beach glass necklaces, and he looked at each and decided which necklace would be best for each teacher. He put each necklace very carefully in each box, and decorated each box with a little heart tag. The next morning my second grader carefully carried his little bag of hand-made gifts with a big smile on his face. I followed him to school that day, as we had also picked flowers from the garden to give to his class teacher. He made the rounds to hand his presents off, very proud and happy to give his teachers this little yellow box with a heart tag.

If you were to ask my 12-year-old self that if I had kids someday if they would go to school bearing gifts, I would have emphatically told you heck no. I would have told you that it isn’t necessary to do that. That you wouldn’t want people to think that the only reason he gets good grades is because he gives his teachers presents (even back then I had very strong opinions about meritocracy!).

See, I was one of those kids bearing gifts. My mom always had something for the teachers – something small and special. But I was actually embarrassed to do it year after year. I didn’t understand why I needed to. I actually questioned why we would spend money we really didn’t have (money was tight when I was growing up) – when my mom could have spent it on something she needed for herself.

Yet today, I have turned into my mother. See, my mother was sneaky. All that time she was teaching me a valuable lesson. A lesson that just clicked when I became a mother myself. And the lesson is gratitude.

Our teachers have one the most demanding jobs on earth, if you ask me. Imagine 16 little personalities vying for your attention each day. Imagine them being teacher, and sometimes parent, to our kids. They not only teach but also nurture our children. We put our kids’ futures partly in their hands. That is such a big responsibility! And my mom, in her infinite wisdom, had planted in me what I call – the “seed of thanks”. She knew that by showing me and not just telling me (coz seriously that probably wouldn’t work for pre-teen, stubborn me) what an act of gratitude is, that it would be squarely implanted in me.

We may not have given the grandest present, but I saw how my teachers felt when they got a little token of appreciation. I know my son did too. I saw the big smile on his face – he was beaming! I hope he too continues planting our “seed of thanks”.