I have been at the Jackson County Public Library for exactly one year tomorrow! It has been a great year full of new things and new people, some things stressful, some things amazing, but mostly wonderful.
I want to tell you about one particularly delightful thing that happened this year.
A first came into the library with his Grandmother. I knew right away that this kid was smart when he came up to the desk, introduced himself and asked if I wanted to play with him. Did I mention he had just turned three at the time? I didn't play that day but, since they were the only ones in the room at that time, I did talk to his Grandmother a bit.
She told me how A was able to interact with adults and older children but that he didn't know very many children his own age and, really, preferred not to play with them or interact with them much. She thought the library would be a good place for him to learn to socialize since A wasn't in preschool. I agreed that the library was a great place and got her our calendar and talked to her about the educational and social aspects of our programming.
They came back the next week. This time, when A asked, I sat down and said I had five minutes to play - there were no children here that time either. They came back again the next week and this time there was another little boy playing at the train table. A asked if I would play so I said I had five minutes. After a minute I started to engage the other boy in our play letting A and this little boy start playing together. Then I slowly backed out and they played together! No adult! I wish I could convey what a big deal this was.
Over the year A and I played every time he came to the library, always for five minutes until I had to go back to work. Of course, five minutes means very little to a three year old but it gave me an out when it was time to go. Often I left him playing with other children, boys and girls.
When A started attending story time he was all over the place at first, wanting to know what was next, when can we...what are we... Typical really. Over time he began to trust that we would indeed get to all his favorite activities and that he must be patient, sometimes even taking turns. He interrupted less and participated more. The ladies that provide storytime said they could see that changes happening and that it was fun to watch him develop.
Then I started hearing from others, people I worked with and patrons, that a little boy said his best friend worked at the library. His Mother thought I was a child in storytime until she met me - fortunately she was okay with it.
When A said, "I love you, Lola" I, with no hesitation answered, "I love you too."
Two weeks ago his Grandmother told me that the family was moving. Not far, but far enough that his library will change. The day she told me A yelled across the library, "I love you, Lola for my whole life."
I wanted to tell you about A because I will miss his smile, I will miss that he only has one volume (loud), I will miss that he always wants to know "why" and "how," I will miss stamps up his arms and down his legs because one stamp is never enough, and I will miss how he brightened my day when he ran through the door, into my office and gave me a really big hug.
I also wanted to tell you about A because I invested so little of my time in relation to other things in my day and was given a huge return on that investment. Children really just want us to play with them, care about them, pay attention to them. A few minutes of acting silly, that's all it took.
It was worth every second!