I've had a weird couple weeks here. Nothing new or amazing...Just settling into the Fall. It's slow because of school being back in session. And since, for a while there, it was still nice out, it was like the children's brains were tricked into thinking it was still summer... I've noticed it takes a while for their "clock" to adjust. They would be trapped in school all day long and then come to the library... where they would not only drive me insane, but also the librarians (and on a good day, even the circulation staff.) At least then we were all affected.
I don't like yelling at kids. Actually, I really despise it. I don't want to be angry ever because this is a happy toy library, not their home and not their school. I don't want to be a parental force in their life, which is why, this is the first thing I am going to mention. How much should we have to handle? The 'we' I am talking about is professionals, working in a community place, in which we deal with children and their families. Say the children are mostly unsupervised (like here) and the people who work here are their grown-ups for the time they are in the building. How much should we put up with behavior wise? I'm okay with the occasional "Don't do that"..."Please take turns"... "Stop being so bossy"... and my all time favorite "No tattle-tailing!!!" But what if you are mediating situations with children ALL THE TIME? If it's back and forth "He did this"... "She's about to hit me"... "Why aren't you yelling at him?"... Do we have a choice to be a "parent" here? The Library OUR home, it's our work place, we have our rules. What happens when the children stop following them?
And this is where I get to my second point. Say the children stop following the rules and they are just "bad". They disrespect the staff at the library AND they make the toy library an unsafe place to be (for other children and families/adults). Those are my 2 bottom lines. As long as those lines aren't crossed, you'll pretty much be okay in my book. What do we do with those "bad" children? Do we talk with the parents? Do we demand they be supervised at all times? Do we kick them out of the library for a day? A week? FOREVER? What happens if we lose them from the library? What happens if they get in trouble and they don't come back because... (I'm having a hard time not taking the blame for what I am about to say)... they are being yelled at/ getting in trouble with, one more grown-up in their world. What if it is worse at home? Or in school? What if them being in the library after school means they don't ever hang with that "bad crowd"? Or that they're not home alone until their parental figure(s) get home from work. Could we teach them to be better?
I've known a child here since he has been around 6 years old. I can't pretend that I don't pick favorites because I do (and everyone knows it). He has always been one of my favorites. He turned 10 this year. He is smart, really smart. He tells the new kids the rules and he follows the rules. He helps me clean up and he is just a good kid. I want to know what he is going to be like in 15 years. It would be amazing to see. The thing is, this past summer, I saw myself starting to lose him. He hangs out with different boys now. He started breaking the rules. Getting mouthy. He wasn't being a good kid. And it's all because of who he hangs with now.... because once in a while I'll see a glimpse of that kid I used to know when he was alone. Not to make it all about this one child but... How do I not lose this kid? And how do we not lose the ones in the future?