One of the things that I love about my job is how you become part of the fabric of the neighbourhood you serve.
The families get to know you, and you get to know the names of the regular kids. You have your favourites. Little R, who looks like Ramona Quimby, with bright, shining eyes and freckles, and who has grown so much since she was in my toddler times. O, with ginger waves and wide hazel eyes that shine with his precocious smarts. J, a pain in the tush, but cute as you can imagine and puppy-dog friendly. Kids who have grown up in front of you, sang with you, laughed at your stories, told you about their little triumphs and woes over the desk. Kids you've picked books out for and parents you've given advice to. Moms who asked you, over baby time, if you had the same struggles with your babies and are relieved to hear that yes, it's hard, but it gets better. I love being part of their world, that familiar face the kids come to, the one parents trust to steer them, the person putting on storytimes and puppet shows that they come out to because they enjoy what we do.
The teachers and principals get to know you, too. They call to book appointments, knowing that their kids will enjoy the trip, that you will share great treasures with them.They invite you to be part of community events and kindergarten registration nights and the like. They are happy to squeeze you in for a few minutes during assemblies to have you come and tell their kids about special programmes. Sometimes, they will even advertise for you in their school newsletters. You support each other's aims, and the dovetailing is a really nice thing.
There are other groups, daycares, camps, support agencies, and so on, who come to know you and work with you to bring programmes and information to more kids, through booths at fairs, arranged visits, sharing of information and referrals. We work together to give people what they need - enrichment, access to stories or addresses or resources or ... so many things. I love feeling like we are a net that can help catch people or lift them up if it all works right, and I love it when I hear it has.
All of this, I love. Being part of a community's world, feeling connected. And yet, as much as I love it, I am about to leave a community that has really felt like home, and it feels like leaving home. The same wrenching away from the familiar and beloved.
It's not just the community, either - it's also the building, which I love. It has been a home away from home, a temple to the books and programmes and kids that I love, a beautiful, beautiful space to work in, which makes more of a difference than I ever knew before I got here. It's the staff, a warm, welcoming, if dysfunctional family that I am going to miss terribly.
It's all these things, all these things that make me feel like I am forcibly ripping myself out of the fabric of the neighbourhood and this community hub. I feel like I'm leaving a little rip in the fabric, and like it's tearing a little hole in me too, as we separate, and I feel like I'm leaving a little bit of me behind.