Thursday, April 5, 2007

Foiled Again!

The following is a summary of a conversation that I had today with two of my library volunteers (cousins, 8th grade, smart). They are the shyest young things I have ever met. Today the afternoon was slow and they had little to do in the way of library business. I found them sitting side by side, one swiveling on an office chair and the other on a library stool, facing the same direction and staring into space, eyes glazed, blank looks, totally quiet.

“They’re bored! So bored, with nothing in the world to do,” I exclaimed in an exaggerated teacher- voice that lets kids know I’m joking around.

Giggles from them, then silence.

“Are you telling me that you actually cannot think of a single thing to occupy your time? No websites to visit? No books to page through?”

Smirks and shrugs.

“Ok. Let’s see. What do you like to do? What do you want to be when you grow up?” By the way, I hate the wording of that question, but find it often spills out of my mouth without my permission; it sounds so superior. More smirks and shrugs. They make eye contact with each other, but nothing develops from this.

“Do you think about what your lives might be like in the future?”

Giggles, then, “noooo?”

Then, out of nowhere, one of them nudges the other and says, “A vet.” Hallelujah! This was just about to get really painful for me.

“Great!” I am overly enthusiastic about this answer. It is a common aspiration at this age and therefore pretty unoriginal, but I am so happy to have learned that their vocal cords are still functioning that I don’t care. “Do you have pets?” I learn that she has three dogs, used to have more, and one of them recently had puppies.

“What about you?” I look at Shy Girl B and wait on the edge of my seat.

Shrug. Smile. Giggle. Shrug. Smile. “Pharmacy Technician.”

Um. “Wow, really? Is someone in your family a pharmacy technician?” No offense to pharmacy technicians, but I cannot figure out where this girl got the idea unless she knows someone in the profession. It’s pretty specific.

“No, I just think it sounds interesting.” Don’t we all.

So, joyous in my success, I bound out onto the library floor and pull books about careers for people who love animals, communicating with animals, rescue dogs, guide dogs, Chihuahuas (Shy Girl A’s preferred breed), history of medicine, alternative medicine, chemistry, and experiments with mixtures and compounds. They accept my offerings and politely flip through the books for a minute or two. I have great hope that I have changed the course of their lives with this one conversation until I am thwarted by a teacher just returned from a field trip. He brings us leftover pizza, and after having plopped pepperoni on one of the dog books, the girls retreat (bookless) to the library workroom to eat theirs. I haven’t seen them since. Damn that teacher, damn field trips, and damn cold meat-lover’s pizza on a sagging paper plate.

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