Computer stations in the library can bring out the worst in people; it has to be said. Usually, the worst is reserved for the Adult side, as kids still remember how to share, but squabbles have been known to occur. Tears have been shed. The usual.
Our department has 4 computers specifically for kids. They are new, they are touch screen, they are neat. They come packed with a multitude of brightly colored and annoyingly sound-tracked games that the kids absolutely love. Sure, they drive us nuts, but if the kids are happy, then we’re happy. At least on the outside. Inwardly we might be screaming and desperately wanting to rip out Dora’s voice box…but whatever. Woooo saaaaahhhhhh.
As I mentioned, there are only 4 computers. We usually have more than 4 kids in the library at a time. Luckily the kids don’t usually stay glued to the screen for very long. This is because their parent says “Times up” or because they spot a friend and start to play. Whatever the reason, the traffic flow is usually steady.
But every once in a while, there’s a bottleneck. Little Johnny doesn’t want to stop playing. Little Suzy gets up to hit the bathroom, only to come back to Little Jimmy in her spot. Sometimes, it’s a computer issue (more so with the older ones, but the new ones get persnickety as well). These little, unforeseen issues can ruin a kid’s day. I know, because it’s happened.
And for today’s story:
I helped a boy who was looking for the Bone series. This is super popular in our library, so naturally, every book he was searching for was out. We tried to find an alternative, but it seemed that with every series we chose, the book he needed was out or missing. He just couldn’t win. Many exasperated sighs later, he took a break and went to the only free computer.
Less than 3 minutes later he was back at my desk, “Excuse me, Miss. Can you turn up the volume? I can’t hear the game.” We walked over and tried to turn the volume up, but it wouldn’t get any louder. Of course. It was not this kid’s day. I could see his eyes welling up. I suggested trying another game, as that might be louder…but it didn’t work. Bottom lip is beginning to tremble…
Meanwhile, across the way, another boy was watching this all unfold. He saw we couldn’t get the volume louder, so he stood up from his computer, walked over to us, and taped me on the shoulder. “Miss? He can have my computer. I’ve played long enough. He deserves a turn.” And he walked away.
The little boy sat down at the new computer. The sound was good. He got to play the game he wanted. There are no tears. He’s happy. Problem solved.
The older boy who gave up his computer was a sweetie. I haven’t seen him in the library since. But, it is really nice to see random acts of kindness. It restores my faith in humanity. Well, I always have faith in kids.
I just hope the parents were watching.