16 Dec 2011

JENNER'S GIVING TREE OTHERWISE KNOWN AS MOLLY'S PIG.

Inspired by Jenner's WRITER'S WORKSHOP: LETTER TO SANTA CLAUS in which she mentioned that her son's school had a giving tree, where the kids pick out a tag for a child in need and  buy them some gifts for the holidays, I thought I'd share one of my festive experiences as a teaching assistant working in a primary school with boys and girls aged 3 to 11.

Now I think its pretty accurate to say that most classes have a child who, generally for no obvious reason, just isn't popular with the other children, who no-one willingly chooses to play with, who isn't gladly welcomed to birthday parties unless some mother or other, knowing they are the only child not to be invited, insists that they come, and the schools I have worked in were no different.

I well remember working with a group of 'year 2' children aged between 6 and 7 in which the child to be left out happened to be a lovely little girl whom I'll call Molly. No real difference from the other children, Molly just wasn't accepted, not that the other children bullied her in the usual sense of the word (there was none of the normal name-calling, hair pulling etc etc) they, perhaps even more cruelly, just didn't seem to notice she existed.

As a consequence lots of time was spent making sure that Molly didn't feel too left out, that the children were given every opportunity to get to know Molly and that Molly was given every opportunity to get to know them but I digress.

I don't know if Christmas cards play a part in your child's school life and if so how this is dealt with ....... as a girl we had a post-box in the school assembly hall and every day two children were chosen to act as the elves who delivered the cards to all of the classrooms and in this way no-one child was noticeably left out as if they got no cards that day, it was just presumed that they would the next.

I've never yet worked in a school that operates in this way, its often cited as a health and safety issue to have children wandering around the school. Instead they all have their own methods, one of which is for the teacher to provide a list of all the children in that class which, supposedly, makes sure that no child is left out, that each child will get a card from every other child - not so in the last school (Molly's school) I worked in, to do this was cited as a health and safety issue as it alerted parents to the names of all the children in that class (as if most of them didn't already know this).

Anyway, this particular school insisted that all cards were brought into school on one specified day as the children were felt to be distracted by the cards and it was more than enough to be distracted on one given day rather than on many.

So getting back to Molly, this year she got not one card, no, not a single boy or girl bothered to think of Molly. What to do?

It was decided that the next year we would do away with the children bringing cards into school but instead would pick a charity and encourage parents to donate the money they would have spent on cards to the school's chosen charity which happened to be Oxfam who, depending on the money raised, would send chickens/a pig/a cow/a donkey etc to a remote village in Africa.

Now Molly hadn't seemed to show any unhappiness at not getting a single Christmas card the year before, her parents, naturally upset on her behalf, saying they couldn't understand that she hadn't even mentioned any cards, BUT this year Molly was distraught, upset to the point of making herself sick, to think that a, a ........  (I think it was a pig) was being sent to someone and she hadn't helped to pick it let alone helped to wrap it as she always did with presents for her family.

Hmm, it just goes to show we may well have been worrying over something when all along we needn't have.

13 comments:

Arti said...

Haha:) Great post Tracy.
I was thinking poor Molly till the end and when I read the last paragraph it all changed...
But we must all make sure that kids are not left out or bullied at school...
Have a wonderful weekend :)

chitra said...

I loved the way it ended . How concerned Molly was. Nice post.
Visited Ireland too. I just love that calender.

Patti said...

I think I do this a lot as a parent. Worry for no apparent reason.

Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

love the way it ended.

great story, tracy.

big hugs to you!

Kelly said...

I guess you just really never know what's going through a child's mind. I wasn't expecting that ending.

My children always did a gift exchange on the last day, but rather than drawing names each child brought something (wrapped) that they might enjoy themself. Gifts were then numbered and each child drew a number from a hat to know which get they got.

The card business reminds me of when I was growing up with Valentine cards at school. Teachers finally learned to require children to bring one for each child in the class so as not to leave anyone out.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Cute story. How do you wrap a pig? :) I love that idea of giving to a charity.

Jenners said...

It breaks my heart to think that she didn't get one single card … even if it didn't break her heart. But the concept of wrapping a pig is just so funny to think of. ANd I think it was great that the cards were done away with and they gave to charity instead -- it ended up being a better thing! Glad you were inspired to share this story.

Mama Zen said...

You just never know, do you?

Alexia561 said...

What a wonderful story! Good for Molly!

naida said...

awww...nice story!

Sridharan said...

Very nice story indeed..1

GMR said...

Wonderful to see how Molly wanted a hand in the gift giving despite her own self being left out of the school loop. Shows how much room the heart has for compassion even when known is shown....wonderful story.

anilkurup said...

The last lines gave much relief. A story well ended.

Yes sometimes the wrong person is wronged. And since the matter was with children, one can hope that they will get over the same and not carry on bad blood in mind.