Happy first day of Autumn! Fall is my favorite season. I’m always glad when summer is over and we start to have cooler weather and the trees begin to change. I did a theme of Fall for story time today and even with the really young, it seems as though people know that Fall is an exciting season. They shouted out all the things that Fall brings when I asked them to tell me about it. I heard about pumpkins and leaf colors and long pants and corn mazes and Halloween, etc. Fall has a lot going on. It’s well-loved.
I’m attempting to watch all the Harry Potter movies. I own a couple of them, so have been relying upon the library to supply the rest. I’m only on the second one so far. I’ve seen all the movies before, but not in a short time span, so watching them in order within a few weeks is sort of new and interesting and fun. I am one of the book buyers for the system and buy all of the juvenile Spanish books and have made a point to try to purchase (or re-purchase) books that are popular but that we have very few of. The Harry Potter series is one of those that seems to still be very popular. Last month I re-purchased several copies of the first book for my Spanish-speaking kiddos, and that’s what got me interested in watching the movies again. Plus, at an outreach event, one of the elementary-schoolers got very excited when I answered him that, “Yes, we really do have all the Harry Potter movies. All of them.” And I thought, how nice to get so excited about something like that.
When is the last time you’ve gotten so excited about something? I feel like I’ve always been a pretty easy person to impress. I like a lot of things and enjoy a lot of pastimes, so it’s not tough to find or discover something that is interesting to me. I think a lot of people who go into library work fall into this sort of category. A lot of librarians are librarians due to their inability to focus only on one thing. A lot of people who join the profession do so for the chance at a career that will allow them to continue to learn about a wide variety of subjects, sort of wherever the wind might take them, rather than have to specialize in one single area. Working as a special collections librarian was interesting because I helped a lot of researchers find information on such a variety of subjects, it was never boring. Genealogy was also never boring, because you’d find links and clues and it was always a bit like detective work, I thought. It was interesting. Being a children’s librarian is interesting in a different way. I’m not necessarily forging new territory in what I’m sharing with kids, but I’m seeing them discover things. And I’m re-discovering things. For instance, I forgot how awesome bubbles are. Nothing is cooler than bubbles to a preschooler. Except maybe Play-Doh, or a parachute, or finger painting, or singing a song, or playing with a giant goose puppet. In this job, unlike any other I’ve held, I feel like I’m sort of re-discovering things to be excited about. Things that adults sort of, don’t, anymore. Not because bubbles and play-doh and painting aren’t fun for adults (because I’ve seen that despite “adultness”, most people still love these things), but they seem to act as though they’re not allowed to have fun with these sorts of things anymore. They’re “too old” for bubbles or play-doh or painting.
But, my question has become the ever-popular, “Why?” Why does getting older mean you have to stop playing with these things? Why, when you reach adulthood do you suddenly have to deny yourself access to the things you loved as a child. I believe people are who they really are, truly, when they are children. The six-year-old boy who comes in and can tell me all these obscure facts about Greek Gods? And will use the puppets to create and tell his family the myths that he’s read about in books?I know he actually likes mythology. He’s not into them because another kid likes them and he wants to be like that kid. He is actually interested and excited about this because it’s who he is. The five-year-old girl who can design them most amazing Lego creations? She’s actually interested in building things. This isn’t for a test, she’s not being graded or judged by anyone. Nobody’s yet tried to dissuade her from building and engineering things, because “girls don’t become engineers”. Her brain is wired to comprehend mechanical things and see ways to build things in ways that others don’t. And that’s awesome and true to who she is. So, why, when those awesome kids grow up into adults, might they probably not play with Legos anymore, or act out ancient legends with puppets? Maybe they will. Maybe they will be some of the select few who survive to adulthood with their true selves still intact and not buried under the expectations of what “adulthood” is supposed to mean. But, what I’ve oddly learned from all of these children in my job is to question our version of adulthood. Why does growing up have to mean that we deny ourselves these simple things that made us SO happy as little kids? Why can’t adulthood mean, “Hey! I’m old enough now to make my own money and buy my OWN play-doh! And that awesome bubble machine I’ve always wanted! Hell. Yes.”
I think it’s wrong to “age-shame” people into believing that once they reach adulthood, they have to deny themselves all the things they loved as children. Or that you can’t buy things you liked as a kid, because you have to buy all the things you need as an adult, which I think is pretty negotiable most of the time. It seems like a punishment, to me. Where does that belief and action even come from? No wonder people are stressed out all the time. I’m telling you, if you just take a buck and buy a little tub of play-doh and set aside time to create with it for even an hour each week, you will feel happier. Or, buy some bubbles and blow some bubbles in your living room after a tough day at work. Why not?
I won’t always be a children’s librarian, but (I hope) I will remember some of these life lessons that these kids are teaching me while I’m here. And if I can’t remember them, there’s always Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd in the 1950 movie, “Harvey” to remind me of the importance of a good attitude and the happiness that is found in being easily impressed and excited by the simpler, everyday things:
I always have a wonderful time, wherever I am, whomever I’m with.