I absolutely hate confrontation with patrons, adults and kids alike. It makes me super nervous because I never want anyone to end up leaving the library in anger (which happens very rarely, but my brain is always prepared for the worst).
Last night, three kids came back into the children’s department right before my Book Scouts program. They were a little loud even just talking to each other and it was obvious that there was no adult with them (and that they were old enough by our policy standards to be there without one). I’m not going to lie. I braced myself for the inevitable talk I’d probably have to have with them about noise level or some other misbehavior. I’m not proud. I’m even more not proud of what happened next. One of them came up to the desk to ask where the Book Scouts program was being held. Inwardly, I cringed. I thought about what that kind of energy might bring to my program trapped inside the Storytime Room. I was picturing disaster.
The oldest of the three went off to the teen area upstairs, but the two younger boys came into my Book Scouts program. And they did bring some energy for sure! But it was not the kind of energy I was assuming from their noise level. They were actually incredibly sweet, intelligent, and enthusiastic kids who were so excited about the program that they could hardly contain themselves. They left with literal piles of books and signed up for the next one, declaring that they wanted to come to every single one from now on and that I was the best librarian ever. I even got to have a decent little talk with one of them about Raina Telgemeier’s Drama when he asked me if I thought it was inappropriate (my initial answer being, “I don’t really think there are any books in here that are inappropriate.”)
Talk about putting me in my place. I felt ashamed for being so judgmental at first. It made me realize that sometimes I need to check myself and my bias and expectations. Just because these kids were a little noisy and unaccompanied by an adult did not automatically mean they were trouble. In fact, quite the opposite, and I honestly believe that positive interactions with caring adults and other kids are something that these boys were searching for.
Do you ever find yourself getting into a stereotypical librarian rut where you feel like scolding rather than encouraging? What do you do to shake yourself out of that mood?