This summer I had a two week storytime assignment. I was assigned a different day than I usually have, Tuesday. I tell you this, because I hope it has something to do with my story.
Last Tuesday I was excited about storytime. And by the time it ended, I thought it was a great session. We did the Cha-cha Slide. It was fun, I thought.
Then I was informed that someone called that day and complained about my storytime. In a word it was “unpleasant”. According to the caller, who was anonymous by the way, I refused to let an 18 month old pet Lincoln, my greeter puppet. There was something else about strollers, and I remember telling a grandma we don’t want strollers in the storytime room. I truly don’t remember how that one ended, I was busy with getting storytime started.
On Wednesday, I was told that a patron called (anonymously), crying about my storytime antics. She said I refused to let her toddler pet the puppet. She said as he came in he ran up to the flannel board and grabbed something. It wasn’t a big deal, as I remember it. Then I refused to let her child pet Lincoln. I said something like, “Oh, no”.
Lincoln is my greeter puppet. He’s a Folkmanis puppet. As children come in, I have them give Lincoln a pretend treat. Then I ask every child what they gave Lincoln to eat. It’s a great way to get children to talk to me, even if it is to say “pizza”. It’s a wonderful to see kids light up and be excited by Lincoln. And, normally, as I’m about to start storytime, I’ll say, “Has everyone had a chance to pet Lincoln who wants to?” Having done storytime with a greeter puppet for a while, I know by looking at a kid that they’re afraid of the puppet. You’ve seen the look on a young child’s face. I’m not going to purposely make a kid cry in storytime. I’m not. So, I say something like, “No?”
When my manager talked to me about the second phone call, she said, this corroborates what the first caller said. Ouch. Well, I guess it must be true.
There are a few things about these phone calls that bother me:
- I wouldn’t bring Lincoln in the storytime room if I didn’t want kids to touch him. What would be the point?
- If you are going to call and complain about me, please do not do it anonymously. I would like a chance to discuss things with you. I understand that she thinks I snubbed her child. And it was so traumatic to this new mom that she cried all day about it. That doesn’t make me happy. But now I don’t know who you are. And you will see me in the library and think I’m a monster and that makes me sick to my stomach.
So, I’ve been thinking about this in the past week. I’m a little shell-shocked about it, to be honest with you. I’m horrified that people think I would treat a child like that. And it makes me want to give up storytime. I’m afraid to get back on the horse. If I can’t read the audience, like apparently I didn’t read that audience, I do not belong doing storytime anymore. And it makes me sick.
The thing is, I just don’t remember it. I remember the flannel board incident. But, it wasn’t a big deal. And if you asked me to pick out that toddler in a line-up of two toddlers, I wouldn’t have known him.
Of all the things I ever thought my storytimes would be, unpleasant isn’t a word I’d want anyone to use. And, I could easily accept that it was a bad week, but I thought it was a great ending to storytime. And it confuses me.