The sense of under appreciation can cling to you like a gym rat’s stench after spending a humid day at the park deadlifting weights. It’s sense that can arise in any job, I’m sure. I know I’ve experienced it at the ballpark. And there isn’t a month at the library where it doesn’t sneak up on me like an ex-lover trying to make amends. And it’s easy to feel invisible when everyone gets the praise, overlooking that despite their planning, you helped in the execution. People would beeline around me to shake hands with the brains of the operation. Sure, we get the pats on the back. The nods of recognition from those you helped, but it the feeling still arises.
Sometimes, though, there comes your moment to shine and you’re left baffled at the thought that someone actually sees you, saw you all these times. They recognized that you’ve come a long way from you meager beginnings as a “doer” to the “creator.” I’ve had my moments post-children’s department, assisting in organizing the poetry readings to being in the pilot seat. And I think that’s why I loved being part of the poetry readings at the library. It gave me a sense of being appreciated, being noticed. And despite my aversion to get on stage and start the program (or having to find new poets, not getting responses, booking flakes, etc.), I looked forward to them. All good things, however, succumb to the inevitable.
When they told me January would be my final hurrah in the poetry scene at work, the sense of invisibility snuck up on me again. I didn’t begrudge the person they gave the responsibility to, though. I couldn’t have left the poetry scene or my friends in better hands. I coasted the weeks, knowing that the February poetry reading would only be weeks after my final one. There was no time to grieve. Planning for the International Book Discussion needed my attention. I ignored work by focusing my attention on work, if you can believe such nonsense. I designed a scavenger hunt and created puzzles for the children to decipher.
Thursday, it all came together. I watched the children dashed across the department, the excitement of figuring out the riddle, the hidden message word search, the rebus, and the zoomed in picture clues. As they worked on their craft, the school librarian approached me to “pick my brain.” She wanted to know how we went about selecting our books for our collection, seeking “insider secrets.” I explained that we purchased new books, recent award winners, popular series, and patron requests. I admitted that I do browse the children’s books at Barnes and Noble and take pictures of books that catch my attention. But as for any algorithm, there wasn’t much to it. Books are hit or miss with kids. Sometimes it takes a movie for a book to become popular or breathe new life in an old classic. (Note to self: purchase a few copies of A Wrinkle in Time for donation.)
She asked me if we all worked on the games together, and Ida responded that it was all me. This came as a surprise, it seemed. In the past, I’ve always been the seen and not heard library employee. And perhaps that was my fault for not showing initiative and maintaining my survival mouse stance. Being recognized as someone other than that, well, that’s a boost in my personal morale. Seeing that I am the harbinger of the children’s entertainment, that’s a boost in my morale. Seeing my game, albeit a Frankenstein creation from past games done in previous IBD events, entertaining, is a boost in my personal morale.
I may not be the most kid-friendly person in the world—sometimes, I downright feel like my department would be much more cleaner and in order without them—but I love my job for the most part. These kids are my kids, and I’d rather them be excited about the library than scowl at the thought.
I just wish they’d stop making me feel so damn old, though. But that’s a story for another day.