By Marlene Bosak, Youth Services, Mary Esther Public Library
Merriam-Webster defines ‘mixed emotions’ as: conflicting feelings or emotions. Not that they’ve asked me lately or anything…but I concur with that definition. Hence, it is with mixed emotions to say that the time has come for me to retire from my job in Youth Services at the Mary Esther Public Library.
The library and the children have been an important part of my life for almost 20 years. I have been privileged to have consistent groups of children who have literally grown up in the programs before my eyes. They’ve been happy when graduating from the preschoolers to the older age group and sad when they’ve “aged out”. I’ve worked with children from families across the income spectrum; “only child” kids, and kids from large families. There have been children who didn’t speak English, but came anyway to listen to books they didn’t understand. I have been exposed to many nationalities, different cultures and skin colors of all shades in this job. And through it all, in spite of the perceived differences we have in our society, I have found children to be basically the same…they want to feel secure, to be loved, and to have a friend. I tried to be that friend to all the children who came to the library. I hope I succeeded.
Oh, there were some mishaps along the way. Some funny, some sad, but all memorable. There was a particular Saturday that we still refer to as “The Day of the Blue Glitter.” Then there was the day I accidently told one group that the Tooth Fairy was a myth. I learned the hard way to be sensitive toward groups of children on certain holidays…Father’s Day, in particular. It goes without saying that storytime presenters read through and practice the books before a program…one NEVER reads a book cold to a group of children! That said, there have been books that struck me as particularly funny during a presentation in spite of pre-reading it and I ended up in tears from laughing so hard. (Try Bee-wigged by Cece Bell, if you ever need a laugh.) On the flip side, I became severely emotional during a presentation of Mercedes and the Chocolate Pilot by Margot Raven. For the craft that day, we made parachutes out of plastic bags and strings with a mini Hershey bar attached to it… a room full of children all testing out their parachutes made me want to cry again, but for an entirely different reason.
Life without the library and program planning is going to take some getting used to. What will I do in November without planning “The Nose Game” or February’s “Shadow Game?” Who will carve apple heads in September while we pretend it is autumn in Florida? Will I ever be able to walk through Michael’s without thinking of a bulk-purchase craft? And the summer! Seriously, what does one do in the summer if one is not responsible for a six-week SLP? Do people still take summer vacations? (Pandemics, notwithstanding.) When I took this job so many years ago I never dreamed it would become a career filled with so much joy and so many special memories. Maybe I’ve stayed too long…whenever I think about someone else standing in front of MY library kids with a book in one hand and a craft ready to roll, I can hardly bear it. But, life is ever-changing. There are now situations in my family that will require more attention and travel in the near future than I can give while also working a full-time job. Sometimes the right decisions are not necessarily the easy ones. Actually, I suppose they seldom are.
So, I begin a new chapter in my life. I am not sure how it will all pan out, but it will. When the program withdrawal symptoms hit me (as they surely will) I will be calling on my grandchildren to gather round and listen to library books and do a craft. I guess I should stock up on some blue glitter….
PLAN wishes Marlene a happy and wonderful retirement!