Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What Came First, The Teens or the Teen Programs?

I just submitted my fall calendar for teens.   
For now through December.   

Doing this calendar was like, passing a kidney stone or something, I swear.  Most of my programs are centered around what my teens want to do, so trying to schedule far out, when most of my teens weren't around this summer, was extremely frustrating.   

I watched the youth librarians pull theirs together, with seeming ease, and I have to admit to feeling a little down.  The newsletter deadline was blinking Disney doe eyes at me every day, and  I was stumped.  Being that stumped made me wonder if I was really up to snuff with my programming.  Why was I having such a hard time? 

Thinking about it made me wonder: 
What comes first?  The Teens?  Or the teen programs? 
Does the calendar and schedule encourage teens to visit the library, or does the teen population dictate the programming.  And in either case, which one is better? 

Well, what I've decided is that it's a little bit of both.  And in true teen fashion, my teens came in today (first day of school), and proved me right. 

In our Me:U meeting, (Me:U being the teen service/advisory club), after talking about our  upcoming service events, I started to run down the list of events that I submitted in the calendar.  For the most part they were on board. 

Then I said, "Is there anything that I may have missed, that you all wanted to do?"  
To which they took me up on immediately.  

When they were done tossing off ideas like it was no big deal, I wanted to go back and un-send my calendar list.   They are hilarious in that they ramble on about everything under the sun and then BAM!, out comes something wonderful.   

Thinking about them, and the way that they think, reminded me that I am on the right path in allowing their ideas to propel my planning and programming. Listening, and being intuitive with my initial plans, while leaving space for the lighting in a bottle which is the teen mind,  is the  key to the riddle.   They want to be led towards ideas, but they also want to be given the opportunity share the ones they already have.  

So what are some things hopefully coming up this fall? 
Family Feud (Their idea) 
Bowling in the Library (My idea) 
Breakdancing Workshop (Their idea) 
Breast Cancer Walk & Awareness event (Our combined idea) 
Secret Santa for the Homeless (Their idea - and to my point, this was thrown out in casual conversation as if it wasn't GENIUS!!!!) 

My hope is that the mixture of our ideas will not only attract new teens to our library, but also encourage those we already have, to stay, thrive, and become leaders.

Monday, September 1, 2014

She Has a Spiderman Bookbag and I am Here For It!

So, this weekend, I've been hanging out at my aunt's house.  While there, her grand-daughter, my "cousin-niece" Dootie has entertained me with just about anything she could think of; including, but not limited to, her singing, her new swimsuit, and the board game Cranium, which she referred to as "The Brain Game".

Next week, she'll be starting Kindergarten.  Now, for the past few weeks when I've asked her what she thought about school, she's told me that she is not excited, and is actually very sad to leave behind her friends from preschool.  I've been trying to pump her up about it and tell her that Kindergarten is going to be a cool new adventure that she should be excited about!  This weekend, I was pleasantly surprised that when I asked her if she was finally looking forward to it, she answered with a high-pitched "YES!"

"Can I show you my book bag!?"  She squealed.
"Of course!"  I told her, and off she ran to grab it.  

Look at that face!

"That's great, Dootie!"  I told her.  She then went and grabbed all of her school supplies, which were filled with purples, pinks, princesses, and ponies.  

While she danced and twirled, and sang, there is always singing with this girl, I couldn't help but to start thinking about how happy and free she was with her choices, and how much I admired about it.  In a world full of gender-specification, my cousin walked right into the store and said, "I want Spiderman."  

Now, I know what you're thinking, in your liberated mind,
"Who cares!?  Of course it's okay for her to choose that."

Nice.  But alas, even her own dad and grandad were taken aback.
"That's a boy's bag." Her grandad said. (When she wasn't in the room, thankfully.)

"I'm gonna go get you a different bag," her dad said the day before, thinking that she would be better suited to a Doc McStuffins theme.  
"You'd rather her have what society wants her to have, over what she chose?"  My aunt replied, and that was the end of that. LOL

Her other two grandparents, her dad's folks, thought her Spiderman choice was cool.

Even beyond her choice to have a "boy's" bookbag, I was also so in love with how much of her personality was reflected in her school supplies.  Spiderman, My Little Pony, Princesses, pinks, purples, chevron stripes; every single piece was so HER.  Not what anyone else thought of her, but who she thought of herself.  

Somehow the conversation turned to what to do about classmates who may say something rude about her bag.  My cousin asked her, "Dootie, what will you do if someone asks why you have a Spiderman bag?"

"I have it because I wanted it."

"And what will you say if they try to make fun of that?"

"It's my choice.  I can have it if I want to.  I like it."

Man, if adults had that same clarity.

The more I thought about it all though, I started to get annoyed for another reason.  Let's say she didn't want Spiderman, but still wanted a superhero?  Where are the Batgirl bags? The Wonder Woman bags?  The Black Widow, without the rest of the Avengers, bags?  
I know they exist, but most are available through speciality stores, not the local department store that most kids are going to get their school supplies from.  

But I digress.

I'm so excited about this new chapter in her life.  I have fond memories of Kindergarten, and still talk to some of my classmates!  I wish her all the best, but above all, I hope she keeps that same spirit of individuality and freedom, forever.