I think it’s safe to say that most Youth Services librarians ask themselves two questions from time to time. The first one is, “They pay me for this?” You ask yourself that on those days when the job is just so much fun–when you are doing the Laurie Berkner Goldfish song with a storytime group, or when you show a child to the book they requested and they snatch it up and hug it. Those days.
The other question we ask ourselves from time to time is: “What are they thinking?” And most of the time, we are asking that about the parents. I have enough material on this subject to do a whole string of posts, and here’s the first. Let me hasten to say that I am a parent myself and not all parents are crazy. But the sane ones aren’t so fun to post about.
My first What is she thinking? story took place not in the library, but in Lincoln Square in Chicago. There is a pretty tiered fountain there, with plants surrounding it and a black iron fence surrounding the whole thing. One beautiful day I watched as an adoring mother picked her toddler up and put him inside the fence, like somehow that fence was intended for adults but kids were okay. The lesson her child surely must get from that is Do whatever you want. You don’t need to follow rules, and feel free to disregard authority if you feel like it. I will even help you disregard authority. I think the teachers out there are seeing a lot of this type of parenting nowadays.
We see a lot of this type of parenting in the library these days too. Most of the parents show lots of common sense and are doing an excellent job, but again, they aren’t amusing to write about. But we do have to keep these parents in mind when we’re planning things, because we can’t count on them all to be, like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way. And believe it or not, in some ways WE are the authority figures! Weird, huh?