Sunday Reflections: Tween Conversations
Fade In: Me, at reference desk on Valentines Day, working. Tween Boy, 12 years old, sitting next to me.
Tween: Miss, so you and Mr. That Guy don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Tween: Why not?
Me: Just cause.
Tween: But you like each other, right? Cuz he brings you dinner, and you hold hands and stuff.
Tween: So you didn’t get him nothing and he didn’t get you nothing.
Tween: But you made us Valentines.
Tween: So what else don’t you and Mr. That Guy don’t celebrate?
Me: Hanukkah. Ramadan. Kwanzaa. Chinese New Years.
Tween: WAIT. You don’t celebrate THOSE? WHY NOT?
Me: Hanukkah is for those who are Jewish and we’re not. Ramadan is for those who are Muslim and we’re not. Kwanzaa is for those who are primarily African-American and while I like the principals I don’t celebrate it. We’re not Chinese.
Tween: BUT we celebrate all those in the LIBRARY!!!!!
Tween: BUT WHY? If you don’t celebrate those, why do we have them?
Me: We celebrate them because everyone who walks in the library is different, and special, and has their own beliefs. They celebrate different things, and I can’t celebrate one thing and not the other, so we celebrate everything.
Me: Just like we celebrate Cinco de Mayo and dieciseis de septiembre at the library even though I’m not Hispanic.
Tween: Wait, you’re an Honorary Mexican, Diego said so.
Me: Yes, but if we only celebrated my actual heritage, we’d do Irish, Scottish, German, English, and Jedi.
Tween: Wait, you’re a JEDI?!?!?
Me: Yes, that’s how I know what they’re doing in the corner. STOP RUNNING AND SIT DOWN.
Tween: WHOA. I love this library, Miss. It’s awesome. Do other libraries celebrate everything?
Me: Yes, because libraries welcome everyone.
Tween: Libraries are awesome.
True story. No embellishment. If you doubt me, ask That Guy or Karen. They have been at my library and have met my kids.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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