Thursday, April 1, 2010

Stevie's Program: Holidaze or Library Programming for Crazy Ladies

First and foremost, I am a librarian and not a mother.  I like kids, mind you, but the thought of creating my own iggling-wiggling progeny makes me nauseous to say the least.  Secondly, I think I might have a problem with the holidays and in turn, the holiday programming that seems a logical consequence. 

The thing is, I love holidays.  Revelries.  Tea parties.  Birthdays.  Big.  Small.  Cool.  Not cool.  You see, I seriously would celebrate almost any occasion.  As is the case with such problems, I blame my mother.  She too loved holidays—with St. Patrick’s Day meaning a kick-butt pair of new green Guess jeans and Valentine’s Day meaning a dozen tacky yet fabulous Mylar balloons.  Which is all well and good—awesome even—except when your job is to ostensibly encourage a zillion screaming mites to attend a “library program”.

Then things can go very wrong in an infinite number of tiny and not so tiny ways.

Seriously, this is the scenario:  Halloween.  As Cady Heron so accurately surmised in my favorite movieMean Girls, “In the real world, Halloween is a night when children dress up in costumes and beg for candy…”; however in youth services librarian-land (a lovely place sparkling with confetti and communicable diseases), Halloween is the night when finds one self the night before fighting real moms over the last bag of snack-size Skittles.  It is ugly and I’m usually wearing sweat pants (which if you know me at all, I never do).

After the previous year’s Halloween Carnival debacle, when I literally drove myself insane trying to entertain seventy inner-city kids with wholesome booths devoted to an Old-Fashioned Good Time.  Apple bobbing, pumpkin decorating, touching the icky gross stuff in the bowl that feels like bloody eyeballs!  Who wouldn't want to touch the bloody eyeballs?  The answer:  no one.  Everyone in the entire neighborhood wanted to touch the bloody eyeballs, show off their costumes, and consume twenty bags of candy...  From 9:00 a.m. when I arrived early to perfect my own "Spelling Bee" costume until 6:00 p.m. when I finally left work to catch the train.  For nine hours, my entire purpose in life became to entertain a schoolyard's worth of children.  Don't get me wrong, the kids at my library were (and are still presumably) great but in my quest to create the perfect Old-Fashioned Good Time I created a no win situation for myself.  Super-fun party means a zillion kids means a crazy-lady librarian trying to explain to her custodian why the "program room" (that doubles as a store-room) looks like a bomb of candy wrappers and icky gross stuff that feels like bloody eyeballs went off.

As flashbacks of apple-bobbing danced in my head, this year I decided to keep it “simple”.

We would have a ghost-story time.  Outside.  We would make bat puppets.  Outside.  And then the kids would leave with their goody bags in hand. They would be smiling and happy.  GO, LIBRARIAN, GO!

I even purchased the supplies the week before…and I hadn’t wore my ugly sweatpants in at least a month.

And the thing is—it was fine.  The kids didn’t cut their pinkies off with the scissors (a constant fear of mine).  They didn’t complain (that much) about how it was way too cold to be having story time outside.  There was even enough felt to go around.

And yet, I was still exhausted afterward.  The search for the perfect buttons for bat noses!  The perfect stickers to decorate the goody bags!  The candy to be placed in said goody bags that said, "You are an appreciated child!"

During the long train ride home that night, I wondered why my mom did it and made a personal vow never to have another obsessive crazy-librarian-lady program again.

Until Martin Luther King Day and the “doves” anyway.

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