Last Friday I had one of those dreaded moments in a job: the moment where you think, “Why am I doing this again?”
Friday afternoons in the Teen Room at the library are Crazytown. During the week, some of the kids who would potentially come to the library have sport or activities but on Fridays there usually is nothing. Plus it’s the weekend, so it seems like all of the teens are in the library. Some Fridays we have around 50-60 teens in there. Seriously. It’s insane.
It really wasn’t even that busy of a Friday and I was only there from 4 to 5 but I nearly lost my patience. Kids were just rude to me when I was trying to help them, or basically point blank refused to throw away their trash littering the tables, or thought that they were sneaky enough to sneak in fries – we only allow “packaged snacks” – and eat them when I wasn’t watching.
I am always watching.
Not really, but I did catch Fry Guy. To cut to the chase, I was just at my wit’s end. Why are teens so wretched and annoying, I thought. WHY?!
When I got home and later that weekend I got to thinking. Not all teens are wretched and annoying and even the teens who were there are not always wretched and annoying. If another librarian said that to me, I would freak out at them. I feel like I spend a lot of my time defending teens’ behaviors, explaining that they are just pushing boundaries, that they aren’t thinking, that they aren’t deliberately harassing other patrons, etc. That’s when I realized I don’t really hate my job and that I need to remember all teens aren’t awful. I love my job and I love working with teens, but like with any job and any large group, sometimes it’s going to drive you a little batty.
I have had some very frustrating interactions with adult patrons, but I don’t go home at night at think, All adults are awful. Ok, I might sometimes, but I do recognize that it’s easy to remember the bad interactions and experiences and easy to forget the good ones.
My coworker Clare says she tries to remember that each day starts with a clean slate. Each day is a chance to reset in the Teen Room. Was a teen frustrating yesterday? Fine, but that was yesterday. I need to remember that each day is new and with it comes a new chance to serve these teens.
Some of the teens that were annoying the crap out of me on Friday? They were having an adorable discussion about whether or not they should be concerned that Microsoft was buying Minecraft. So cute and a good reminder that we all have bad days and everyone deserves a second chance.