When we ran out of girl gifts, the girls gladly accepted boy gifts. When the pregnant girl, who had just been diagnosed with gestational diabetes, got a bag of candy and a tool, she quietly announced to the boy next to her that she could not eat the candy or take the tool home. She was under court order to live in a group home and they would consider the screwdriver set a weapon. So the girl on the other side of her said she would gladly trade her stuffed animal and her sunglasses for the screwdrivers because she had always thought having something around the house to use to repair things would be "neat." And the trade was made. When I asked the other girl, who got a flashlight and a screwdriver what she would do with them, she said her dad could use the tools to help fix the old car they had in the driveway and maybe then she could drive it -- "It's all good, Mrs. Hubby."
The freshman girl being given the stuffed dog (who when you petted him moved his ears and forelegs) was the last to be gifted. She thought, of course, that she was being left out of the celebration and she was struggling mightily not to cry. She's a very strange child, usually friendless -- and the others, who are pretty strange themselves on bad days, tolerate her but think she's weird. We waited until all the gifts were given, then asked if she remembered what she said was the ONLY thing she wanted for Christmas but could never have - and she screamed out "A puppy!" So she was sent on a hunt for the dog and when she found him (the kids pointed the way for her) she was so delighted. She got that dog out of the box and walked around having everyone pet him. She explained he needed a name and then she cradled him like a baby and that's when she discovered that pushing his tummy caused the movement and she was beyond happy. She left the room, dog clutched in her arms, wearing the biggest smile we've ever seen.
When our guests of honor arrived, they class cheered. They offered up notes of appreciation and a gift that they had arranged before hand -- NOT my arrangement, but theirs. When the principal showed up they made small talk. When the SPED administration showed up, they made small talk with them.
They ate until they were full but they did not eat up everything. In every single instance, they left a little of something on a platter. With the spaghetti they left enough for the Health Community staff to have lunch after them.
And they cleaned up. When third period ended, without my saying a word, two boys and five girls stayed behind. The boys moved back all the extra chairs to the staff room. The girls got out the trash bags and made sure all the plates and cups and wrappings were disposed of. We had moved all the desks into conversational groupings and now they put everything back into my four desk groups. We had set up the food in the community staff room right across the hall from me and once the staff had eaten they completely cleaned that room.
They gave me a round of applause at the end of the gifting. They sent Hubby lots of love and kisses. And they beamed with delight as they carried their gift bags away. And teen after teen hugged me and personally thanked me. It was a sweet ending to a lovely celebration.
I am beyond exhausted.