It is finally beginning to sink in. My students bought me a van. I have been in a state of shock since Thursday morning. It is truly humbling to receive of gift of such caliber. Surely, one thinks, I don't deserve such a boon. There are so many other fine teachers who are just as worthy if not more so. Yet there it is. In my driveway.
Here is how it went down:
Sometimes, when I begin to think that I am more perceptive than I really am, something happens to reveal how truly blind I can be. On Wednesday night my wife told me that her mother had called and asked her if she wanted to have an adventure on Thursday morning. I replied, "What, is someone going to give you a minivan?" We both laughed at the joke as we both thought the same thing, "No. Well maybe." The fact that it was the first thing that I thought of reveals how much our need for family transportation was weighing on me.
My mother-in-law's instructions to my wife were cryptic. My wife was to dress nicely, eat breakfast, and meet her at a store near my school. The "adventure" would only last an hour. My wife was excited about it, and I warned her against having unrealistic hopes. I told her to call me when she was done.
The next day was a special chapel at my school. My school's SGA gives out teacher character awards. A student recognizes each teacherwith a short speech explaining how a particular teacher exemplifies a character trait. The chapel is held in the gym and is usually an interesting exercise in hoping that one is not recognized with "orderliness" or "responsibility" while other teachers are awarded with "love", "wisdom", or "courage".
I came a little late to the gym, having completely forgotten that my wife was supposed to have met her mother only a block minutes earlier. I was befuddled to see them with my wife's sister standing at the back of the gym. One of the SGA officers rushed over to me to explain that they thought it would be nice if they could be there today. I don't remember my reply, but I was so confused that I might have said, "Okay."
We sat together as the ceremony proceeded. None of the other teachers had family members present. What was going on? I started running down possibilities. Maybe someone put me up for the Legacy award, our school's highest award. Maybe they were going to give a big basket of goodies for the babies. Teacher after teacher was awarded with something. I got a very nice little speech and "respect". It was very nice but no reason to bring out family. I began mentally ticking down all of our teachers. If something special was coming, it was probably coming at the end.
At last the end came. A couple of senior SGA officers went to the front and called all of the seniors down to the front. They were going to present their senior gift. The senior gift is traditionally a gift given by the senior to the school community. Past senior classes have given things like picnic tables, a flagpole, a sword in a presentation case for the lobby, and DVD players for every department. They called me and my wife to the stage. My wife noticed that a burgundy Windstar was now parked on the sidewalk directly outside the gym doors. I did not. The SGA officers said something about me, I don't remember what. They handed me an envelope. It was strangely bulky. I opened it. It was a set of keys. They said the keys were for a minivan for me. I gave a short speech. It consisted primarily of me repeating, "Wow, thanks, I don't know what to say" in various combinations and orders. I think someone cried.
We went out to the van. The van was filled with 1674 diapers, 1133 wipes, baby clothes, and gift cards provided by the underclassmen. The seniors were also thoughtful enough to provide $500.00 in gas cards. Over two hundred people that I see everyday knew and never let on a hint.
I still don't really know what to say. I didn't see it coming. The need for a minivan had been weighing so heavily on me that I was having real trouble anticipating the twin's arrival with joy. Now I cannot wait for them to arrive. It is a beautiful gift. I shall never forget it. It is a real Dead Poets' Society/Mr. Holland's Opus kind of moment for me. One I surely do not deserve.
On Monday I get to go to Disney World and Coco Beach as a chaperone for the senior trip. They are getting away with whatever they want.