I don’t always make the right decision. Heck, I’d even say I don’t usually make the best decision. I usually settle for the acceptable decision, but once, a few weeks ago, I did make the best decision and that has made all the difference. (I bet you weren’t expecting a Robert Frost quote in this post.)
Let me set up the scene for you. It’s Friday. Going home time on Friday. Both of my kids are being nuts. It has been a long day and a hard one and I ‘m ready to be home. I’m flipping off the lights in the library, and I’m about to walk out of the door. Before I can, though, a mom and her son hurry into the library to turn some books in.
The boy is a nice kid. He’s always polite and friendly. He just doesn’t like to read. He has told me as much. He reads what’s required for school and nothing else. He’d rather be playing football or basketball or soccer with his best friend who also doesn’t like to to read. (His friend has also told me as much.) His mom is obviously in a hurry and eager to get home as well, and I am gathering my stuff and my children to follow behind them, but a little voice inside speaks to me before I could make it out.
Let me tell you about this little voice. It doesn’t speak to me all that often. I wish it would, but it only speaks up every once in a while. I call it my “inner librarian.” Every so often it will speak up and tell me exactly what book to get a specific child. It’s not a suggestion, it’s more of an order. Kind of like, “This kid NEEDS this book.” The voice is usually right, so I’ve learned to trust it.
This time, though, I fight it. The mom is obviously in a hurry. I’m ready to go too. Like, REALLY ready. And this time, the voice is wrong. So obviously wrong, because this kid doesn’t even like to read. He’s already met his reading requirements with the books they just turned in, so he probably won’t even read the book if I gave it to him. Plus, the book is just an easy, funny book, part of a series for “struggling readers.” (And no. I’m not going to tell you the book or the series. I don’t want to get kicked of of the notables committee. Just Google “Angie Manfredi Newbery” if you think I’m overreacting.) So, even if I do give it to him, and even if he does read it, it won’t change his life or anything. Let’s all just go home.
Something about my tone and what I am telling myself alarms me. I don’t really believe any of that, do I? Benji from 5 years ago believed that EVERY kid is a reader. Every kid just hasn’t found the right book, yet. Benji from 5 years go believed that ANY book, paired with the right reader can change a life.
In short, even though I’m tired, kind of annoyed at my kids and ready to be home where I have a heap-load of reading to do for notables that probably won’t get done, there is enough good still in there to see through all of that and be disgusted with myself.
“Wait!” I call out.
The mom turns around.
“He needs a book to read this weekend.”
She kind of looks skeptical, like she thinks he isn’t going to read it either, but what kind of mom isn’t going to let their kid’s librarian give them a book? I run and get it, and hand it to her.
She says thanks and they go on their way, as do we.
Fast forward to Monday.
I’m going about my business having a usual Monday when I get a surprise visitor. It’s the kid from Friday. He has the book I gave him, and a big smile on his face. He told me that he read it all Friday night, and wants some more in the same series. Of course, I help him find them. Later that same day, his best friend, who as I told you before, doesn’t like to read either, came and asked me for the book his friend had just turned in. I just watched in amazement the next few weeks as they both returned to the library every few days to get a new book and eventually read the entire series. I’ve known both of these kids since they were three years old, and I never thought I would see anything like this.
The cherry on the sundae came this morning. A boy, who isn’t really close to either of the other two boys came to see me. He had noticed from afar that they were devouring this series, and wanted to try it for himself. It’s funny, I thought, how things snowball from one moment. I could have very well gone with my initial response, and let them walk away bookless. Three kids would be missing out on this awesome, hilarious series. I’m so glad I didn’t though. It kind of makes me wonder how many opportunities I’ve missed out on over the years because I just was feeling tired or was distracted in the moment. Hopefully, I’ve hit the mark more than I’ve missed it.