This is not a rhetorical question. I really want to know what’s with appreciation weeks? Specifically- what’s with teacher appreciation week?

Teachers- I have nothing against you. I truly appreciate you. I taught my children to be respectful in class. I monitored their homework time. I volunteered when I could and did what I was asked. I attended parent-teacher conferences and back-to-school nights.

When I hear of parents stressing out because they’re not crafty or they’re not bakers or they don’t know what gift to give their child’s teacher, it sends me spiraling back to my days as an elementary school parent. Because let’s be honest: how many are putting on breakfast for the middle school or high school teachers or bringing them flowers or lotions of coffee gift cards?

I remember the first time I learned I was expected to buy a seasonal gift for my daughter’s teacher. I didn’t understand. Wasn’t the teacher a professional? Didn’t the adult at the front of the class choose to attend grad school to become a teacher? Wasn’t the teacher (at least in my district) paid a reasonable salary? Why was I expected to not only give the teacher a seasonal gift and a year end gift as well as bake something for teacher appreciation week?

At the time, I was too embarrassed to not give a gift or bake, so I stressed and worried and ended up baking and getting the teacher something even I don’t remember. In other years, I couldn’t say no to the room parent who wanted each parent to contribute $10-$20 towards teacher gifts. But inside, I chafed at the ask presented as a requirement.

How much lotion can one person use? How many coffee mugs? Why does the teacher have a fistful of coffee, Target and mall gift cards anyway, and why don’t other professionals?

As for teacher appreciation week, why must I bring an egg casserole or bake muffins when I’m wolfing down oatmeal while forcing my child to wear shoes and get out the door on time? Can’t I appreciate the teacher all year by supporting her/him as a professional, and do my best to work as a team with my child?

I’m hoping someone can explain this puzzling custom of gift giving and baking because I really don’t get it. In the meantime, I hope to be a person who appreciates and is grateful to all workers without the need to be reminded.