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Sun, 8 Dec 2019, 10:25 AM (-06:00) Creative Commons License

1. Adopt-a-Family

In years past, as successful as Adopt-a-Student day was, it was a bit awkward for adopted middle school kids to take their gifts home when none of the rest of the household would have anything. Nothing for the brothers or the sisters or the parents. So this year it was Adopt-a-Family.

Each person in the adopted families filled out a wish list (something I need, something I want, something to wear, something to read). Marco (not his real name) was a nine year old student. We adopted his family. There were five of them in all.

Under “something I want”, Marco had written “a drawing tablet”. Under something I need, he had written, “sketching pencils and paper.” Obviously we needed to get him drawing supplies. My students quickly volunteered for these and all the other items on the family’s list.

2. Marco and Marco

It’s the drawing supplies I want to talk about.

Our adopted Marco was clearly a budding artist. And as it turns out, I have a budding artist in that class whose name is also Marco (not his real name). At the end of class, I went up to his desk and kneeled. He was sketching something, as he almost always is. He looked up.

“Did you notice that Marco likes to draw?” I asked.

He smiled and nodded.

“Would you please make a point to talk to Marco about drawing and maybe give him your sketch?” I pointed to the corner of my whiteboard where I post student artwork. A big sketch of his has been taped there prominently for several months.

He smiled broadly and nodded.

3. That Morning

I was nervous on the day the family was supposed to come to our room. We had only had two days to get the gifts, and there was no room for procrastination or forgetting. On the first day, the students signed up for gifts and snacks to bring. On the second day, only one student had brought anything in — Oreo cookies. So on the morning of the day the family was going to arrive, I brought a wrapped sketchbook and pencils just in case no one brought anything — at least we’d have some drawing supplies for Marco.

As it turned out, I didn’t need to be nervous. These kids take this Adopt-a-Family thing seriously. First of all, they had been adamant that our class should adopt a family. Secondly, it took no time at all to get someone to volunteer for absolutely everything on this list. And finally, before school started on the morning of that day, my students started filing into the room to drop off their presents — all of them wrapped, some of them accompanied by other presents beyond what had been on the family’s list.  

4. Gift Giving

It was chaotic that day. (Originally the wrong family was brought to our room. Our Marco showed up at the beginning of the period instead of the 30 minutes at the end when we expected him, meaning no decorations were up, yet. Our adopted Marco came in only with a host “elf”. His family was not with him.)

But my students passed out the cookies. And they poured the orange juice into glasses one of them had brought. And we had Marco open the present with the sketchbook. And then the pencils. And we began putting the other presents to the rest of his family into big boxes.

And then Marco’s mom arrived. Although he spoke English, she did not. So my students translated. They made sure she knew that we had a gift receipt inside the card. They made sure she knew there were names on each of the wrapped presents. We gave her the boxes heaped full of gifts.

And before we knew it, 30 minutes was over, and Marco, his mom, the elf and two other hosts left our room, trying to figure out how they were going to carry all that booty out to her car.

 5. What Marco Gave Marco

Afterwards, I walked up to my Marco’s desk and kneeled. He was sketching something, as he almost always is. He looked up, smiling.

“Did you get a chance to talk to Marco?” I asked. It had been such a whirlwind that I hadn’t even made sure.

He nodded. And he took out his phone and showed me a photo of a new sketch that he had given to young Marco. It was a full notebook-sized sheet of paper. A pencil sketch of a Christmas tree filled the page. The tree filled the drawing, but there were sketched presents around it and a gray hazy fuzziness that perfectly captured (almost in a Norman Rockwell sense) the feeling of Christmas morning to a little kid just waking up.

Marco said he had given the sketch to Marco. And they had talked about it. Young Marco had told big Marco how he would draw a Christmas tree. And they had talked about drawing styles.

These are really good kids.

© jumpingfish by David Hasan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License