Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It's A Blog! No Wait...

Under the incredibly wise advice of a trusted coworker and friend, I've decided that this blog will be a spot for my ideas and writings surrounding my work.   

With a twist

Because otherwise, it's just like everyone else's blog, isn't it?

I started working with children in a public library two and a half years ago.  Previous to that, I had been a library clerk.  If you had told me at the beginning of my library career that I would wind up working with the tykes, I would have called you a liar and told you to check your crystal ball.  Now, I bloody love it.  Suffice to say, working with children is entirely rewarding, but there are reasons for the reward beyond the typical "I get to help kids with reading, books, etc."  That is, of course, a huge part of the job.  But there is a lot more to a Children's Librarian than assisting a class of fourth graders find chapter books or helping a five year old find an Eric Carle book.

Truly, what drives me is the astounding creativity in this job, and the freedom to do bugger all that I want.  Seriously.  Granted, I'm fortunate enough to have a supervisor that trusts me implicitly (and I do run ideas by her all the time), but a typical stop in her office often goes like this:

Me:  "Hey, I've got a science program in two weeks and there are a couple of experiments I want to do.  I just want to make sure it's okay for me to have bubbles, yeast, and hydrogen peroxide in the back room."

My boss will then give me what I have so cleverly labeled as "the look" (a cross between curiosity and slight supervisory concern...she is my boss) and tell me to not make a mess.  If I make a mess, then I'm in trouble.  Makes sense to me.

And I smile, nod while thanking her, and go about my merry way.  I've gotten her permission to fling paper copters off the third floor balcony with 30 second - fourth graders (it was a big deal because NO ONE goes on the third floor, it's all administrative offices), shoot off film canister rockets, and bring in an African drummer who was a friend of a coworker to do a drumming workshop in the middle of a snowstorm.

And that last bit is misleading; the snowstorm hit after I had set up the drumming workshop and had people signed up to come.  But it was still amazing.

But I think my favorite "got away with it" moment was two years ago, only six months or so after I had started in the department.  My first major Children's program was a program about poetry.  Such a thing had never been done in the department before (at least to my knowledge), so I was already breaking new ground.  Top that off with the fact that I hadn't done anything more than a Toddler Story Time and this was an evening program for elementary school kids.  I had decided to perform poetry (not memorize, but get up and read it dramatically) in front of a group of kids and their parents/grandparents, etc.  We had advertised the program as a silly poetry night where kids could come and celebrate poetry with me, and hear the names of the winners of our annual Poetry Contest for kids announced too.  A lot of the contest participants showed up, and they were the kids that didn't frequent the library programs, so they weren't too sure what to expect.

The program went quite smoothly, with me acting more and more like a ham as the hour went on.  My boss came in to observe at one point and I was so into acting out a Shel Silverstein poem with a couple of kids that her presence barely even registered.  I do remember her leaving the room via the back door with a huge smile on her face.

The grand finale of the program, before announcing the contest winners, was me reading the poem "Spaghetti" by Shel Silverstein.  It's a favorite of mine; out of all of his poems, this is simplistic yet astoundingly funny.  And if you keep reading, you'll see it's even better with props!  (And how hard do I love this poem in typography?)

The energy and exuberance of Shel's performance on the CD of Where the Sidewalk Ends inspired me to perform the poem out loud, but with one trick up my sleeve.

I got the kids and parents revved up for the last poem, and started flinging cooked spaghetti noodles while shouting, "Spaghetti, spaghetti, all over the place!" and then performing the rest of the poem.

It was, unquestionably, one of my favorite moments in my career.  The shocked looks on the faces of those in the room quickly turned into giggles and full out guffaws.  Some of the kids starting throwing spaghetti at each other and yelling "Spaghetti!", and there was one grandpa that got down on the floor and got into it as well.

It was an all-out mess that Shel would have loved, and I like to think that we did it in his honor.

After the program was over and the kids and their families went home for the evening, I spent some time on the floor picking spaghetti out of the carpet as part of the program clean-up.  Worth it?  Absolutely.  The next day, I had more spaghetti pick-up to do and my boss came in and congratulated me on a successful program.  Then she said something that I can't remember verbatim, but it ended with calling me her department's "wild child."  I believe the implication at the time was, "Who else in this department would throw spaghetti at kids?"  It was meant at a compliment, and I took it as such.

To this day, I'm known as the department's wild child, a label I proudly wear and own.

No comments:

Post a Comment