It was the last day of school, and by, “last day,” I mean, final, final.  For me, anyway.  I had decided to click my heels together and say, “There’s no place like home.”  Resigning from the classroom.  But I was lucky. I wasn’t leaving because I had a particularly difficult class, nor an untenable boss or colleagues.  I already went through all of that in the past. In fact, it was to the contrary of those things.  I had a nice enough class and adored my principal and my teaching team.  And I wanted to give my team just the perfect thank you gifts.  I had given it a great deal of thought when the last day arrived, and still didn’t know what to give them.  Instead, I turned my attention to my footwear for the day. Upon spying my red, sequined Converse  (ruby slippers) given to me by a favorite parent that year, I hit upon the perfect gifts for my team.  No, not a set of equally glittery shoes, but gifts that fit these three ladies as if they were made for them.  

A brain.

A heart.


Now, before you die laughing because you think you know a bit about my team and our reputations, or before you frown in confusion or shake your head at my apparent evil spirit, hear me out.  Because I adore these three ladies.  And yes, I did giggle uncontrollably every time I thought of these gifts, but really, let’s remember how it went in the Wizard of Oz.  

The scarecrow was the brains of the outfit.  No doubt.  He may have pretended he needed a brain, but we knew he was, in fact, very bright.  Just as I know that A. may play the silly airhead sometimes, but if you know her- really know her- then you know that she is extremely intelligent and capable.  A. is observant, diplomatic, and knows the right thing to say at the right time.  She manages to make everyone feel good about themselves and she can fly by the seat of her pants like nobody’s business.  All of that takes a quick and nimble mind.

The tin man who supposedly needed a heart was actually pretty sensitive underneath that metal he wore.  You may recall that his tears rusted him more than once.  C. may be known for her morning moods and even she jokes about being a bitch and having a certain 2-word phrase tattooed invisibly on her forehead.  I have laughed like crazy at her sharp wit and biting sarcasm.  But those who are even a little bit inside that protective armor have also felt the incredible empathy, listening skills, and love that C. brings to her friendships.  In fact, it was her words that made me see how special our team really was. Colleagues won’t see C. cry very often, but that is not a sign of lack of heart.  Her heart is so big I believe she has to protect it with some extra measures.  

As for the cowardly lion, well, he may have been shaking in his figurative boots, but he stood up for his friends and showed up when it counted.  Our gentle M. should not be underestimated.  She has the courage of her convictions, and she will take a stand, however quietly, when she believes in something or someone.  She is the bravest of all because she does not cave to peer pressure and does the hardest thing possible:  she stands up to her friends when necessary.  M. is sweet and she is kind.  She has been an absolute pillar of strength for me in these months of my own struggles.  I always knew I could lean on her.  She has a pure heart and high ideals.  But do not mistake her for someone without courage.  

And so the gifts I would give my team, they really already have.  Just as the 3 friends in the W of O had theirs all along.  I wouldn’t really give these ladies any of those items, except in most loving jest.

They had to settle for pedicures.