Thank you. But No, Thank You.
At the end of a semester, I know parents will look for me due to their children's chemistry result. I know, because I gave them those marks. Not a beautiful ones, I can tell you, therefore I can predict there will be unsatisfied parents.
No less than 5 parents, that day. And every one of them must be satisfied for what's there: the record of their children's work for the whole semester. Every homework, quiz, task, assessment, name it, in a plain worksheet. They can see I didn't do anything wrong with the count.
Disappointments, I could see that. What's left to say was to remind the child to work better.
When I was about to go home, a student came to me, handed over an envelope. Beautiful red envelope, reminds me of Japanese papers. I thought it was a souvenir from some trip to other country, so I accepted it delightedly without any further thought.
As I got home, I recalled the envelope and I was very surprised to see what's inside. Some money. Not a very big amount, but enough to make me uneasy. Call me naive, but I have never got that kind of gift before so… yes, it was unexpected.
I was so sure it's not a bribery, since I know a bit about the family who's able to offer Macbook Pro for that purpose (maybe hehehe… I once made a joke about it) and the amount of the money is not wisely comparable to that.
Anyway, I'm still bothered. Uncomfortable. Yes, I could use that money for some needs. But no, I'm not that desperate that my paycheck can cover the same amount very well. To make things more uncomfortable, I will still be a teacher for the next year for this particular student. I can make stupid decisions just because of a thought of this money. It might weaken me.
Supported by my husband, I decided to return the gift. Padded in a sealed envelope, I gave it to the student on the very first day after holiday. She questioned, I just smiled and said, "Open it at home, dear".
Not long, even before I got home, the parent called but unfortunately I missed it. I got a message, though.
Please don't misjudge my intention in giving it to you. It is just a thank you gift with our respect to xx's (student's name) teacher. [Yes, the parent use very good English in the text message]
I replied that I don't doubt the intention. It's just me and my weakness. I'm afraid my poor heart won't stand the test and got weakened toward the student which I must not. It would be unfair and definitely a lost, not a benefit for being a student whose teacher can't act fair.
The parent replied with a very nice prayer. And I said amen.
Written on the envelope returned:
I can not accept this. Thank you, but no, thank you.
Dear my students' humble parents, I thank you for every good wishes and kind attentions. I apologize that I may not be able to return the same favour in a kindest way. My only wish is that your children can see that I have been doing all that for their own good sake.
I may not be able to make every student loves chemistry. But I do hope students can see chemistry in a different angle. The one that's closest to their lives. The real chemistry which makes their lives. To use chemistry in simple daily choices. To apply it.
Just to hear "Thank you for being my chemistry teacher" is very wonderful. Not to ask for a thank you, though. But a gift is beyond my wish 🙂 I may receive it, if the person's no longer my student. But I may still not, if my complicated mind can't deal with it :p Pardon my troublesome.
And what makes me happier now is, this particular student has been showing good improvements regarding to the last year. I am so glad. So glad that I made the right choice. So glad that I took the risk of being hated. But they don't hate me, seemingly.
Keep pushing your edges, my students. Reach to your goal. Walk through. Run with me. As long as you have achievements to make, I will accompany you. I will help you. See you in chemistry class. Let's make (our life's) history better 🙂