girl, boy, balloon
Photo credit: Brandon C Warren

It’s the final day of lessons before the Easter holidays. Unsurprisingly, I had very few students in yesterday, and have even fewer today. My boss has dictated that I have to give my teenagers a test, which is disappointing. I’d planned an ace lesson all about chocolate, including youtube videos and everything. Ah well. It’ll keep. Amid groans of dissent – But it’s EASTER! – I pass out the mock exam papers and settle them down. There’s a knock at the door. Ilaria, the school secretary, pops her head around the door. Can you come outside a moment? Pulling a nervous face at my students, who titter appreciatively, I go out into the corridor.

Standing outside is Matteo, a shy smile on his round, bespectacled face. I love this kid. He used to be my student at the beginning of the year, but the class was wrong for him, so I lost him. I miss him. Every lesson he’d turn up to class dressed in immaculate designer jeans held up with Alviero Martini belt, Hogans buffed to a gleaming shine, and shirt collar peeping just-so over the neck of his knitted pullover. Mummy’s boy? Yes. But also an absolute sweetheart, who would always kiss me hello and goodbye and smile politely while the rest of the class ran amok. A perfect grown-up gentleman in a chubby, eight-year-old boy’s body. Now I only ever see him in the corridors between lessons, but his face always lights up as he says, “Ciao, Maestra!” and gives me a kiss.

Today he seems shyer than usual. Ilaria nudges him. Go on, Matteo. He shuffles his feet and then thrusts a chocolate egg in my direction, not brave enough to meet my eyes. For you, Maestra. It’s small – about the size of a Kinder egg – but in true Italian style is presented beautifully, nestled neatly in a porcelain goose, the whole thing wrapped in cellophane and ribbons. I could cry. None of my other students have given me anything, and yet this little boy, who I haven’t taught for three months, has come in specially to give me a gift. I bend down to give him a kiss. Thank you, Matteo. Happy Easter. Beaming all over his face, he gives me a little wave as Ilaria takes him by the hand and leads him away. Buona Pasqua, Maestra.

I return to my rambunctious teenagers with an enormous grin on my face. They’ve given up on the pretence of doing the test individually, and are comparing answers, but stop as I come into the room. Federico cocks his head to one side. You shouldn’t be so happy about receiving chocolate from a boy, you know. He raises one eyebrow in mock severity. I laugh. Get back to your test, Federico. 

This post was inspired by the Italy Roundtable bloggers: arttrav, At Home in Tuscany, Brigolante, italofile and WhyGoItaly

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About Kate Bailward

Kate Bailward is a cat-loving, trifle-hating, maniac driver. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
This entry was posted in Teaching Like a Maniac and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Gifts

  1. LindyLouMac says:

    I still have some of my chocolate left, but Easter holidays now.:)
    LindyLouMac´s last post ..Musical Moment – Momento Musicale – Arisa

  2. Sally says:

    Aww, I loved this. I love when my students give me presents — even if I suspect it’s to bribe me for a better grade.
    Sally´s last post ..Stuff I Really Kind of Like About My Life in China: My VPN

  3. Katja says:

    I’m currently in a hotel near Perugia for a conference, and there are 3 large boxes of Baci on the side, one for each of the room’s inhabitants. I’m being very controlled so far and haven’t opened mine, because I know that once I do it’ll be bye-bye chocolate …

  4. Katja says:

    It’s just the best, isn’t it? I don’t think bribery has occurred to any of mine. Maybe I should subliminally suggest it, along with planting the idea that diamonds really *are* a girl’s best friend.

  5. Roxanne says:

    “Get back to your test, Federico” is still making me smile. What a heart-warming story. I love this.
    Roxanne´s last post ..Lessons from Measuring Life in Photographs

  6. Katja says:

    Glad to make you smile, Roxanne. Thank you so much. x

  7. How gorgeous, your little Matteo sounds like our Luca and the same age. He is so sweet and hugs everyone, very innocent and not like the other boys in his class. Even when we go for a walk he will say hi to everyone. You obviously made an impact on him, what a lovely gift.
    ciao lisa

  8. Cathy says:

    I agree with Lisa, you obviously had made an impression on Matteo. What a lovely story Kate, thanks for sharing this.
    Cathy´s last post ..Fresh pasta

  9. Katja says:

    Lisa, it really was a lovely gift, in so many more ways than the chocolate itself. He’s such a sweetie – your Luca sounds adorable!

  10. Katja says:

    Cathy, thanks for dropping by and for your kind words.

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  13. jessventure says:

    This is sweet. Are you still a teacher? I teach as well, have been doing it for just over 5 months. I feel like I learn so much more about their culture from a classroom perspective! My students have never given me gifts but I often bake brownies or pie and bring it to class to make everyone more relaxed. I call it cultural training because that way they can get to know American food as well as the language…I make them tell me what ingredients they think are in the food, it’s fun for me :)

  14. Oh, what a good idea. I’ve done a few lessons based around food – you can do a fun adjectives lesson with different foods and getting them to do blind tastings and describe the food i.e. is it salty or sweet or tasty or bitter? I fed one class Marmite. That was interesting. ;)

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