Where my life feels a little improv’ed

At the beginning of this week I was feeling a bit overstretched.  I had scheduled 2 events that both involved a lot of planning and preparation.  One of them – my Greek Mythology event – was really under registered, too.  I only had 2 people signed up until Wednesday, whereupon 2 more signed up and the event suddenly went from “I should cancel,” to “let’s make this happen.”  I sometimes leave things until the last minute if it looks like I’m going to have poor attendance, but it’s kind of nerve-wracking to have to throw a lot of energy into an event suddenly.  Greek Mythology was scheduled for Friday, and the other event – my monthly volunteers’ meeting – was on Thursday.

I love and hate the volunteer meetings.  I usually have about 25 young people to supervise during that time.  And although it’s only an hour, finding things for 25 people to do that they can a.) do well, and b.) actually provide some kind of useful service to me/our institution/them (as an experience) is a challenge.  They fill me up and wring me out.  And often I just create more work for myself by letting them help me.  For instance, if I have them pull books that haven’t circulated in awhile, I then have to go through those books and decide whether to keep them in the collection.  There are some who are *so* good at finding things for me that they’ve already filled a cart in the first 20 minutes.  And then it takes me 2 weeks to get through that, what with the other things I have going on.  Last month – our first meeting of the year – was insane.  I had a mixture of new and seasoned volunteers and only one of me to tell/show people what to do.  I think the experience may have scared a few off.  [And as an aside: I feel very ALONE in this endeavor.  I try to get other staff to contribute projects for the teens to work on, but they don’t have anything, or don’t have time to help train the kids so that they have some chance of success…which means they’re sort of set up to do a substandard job (although, to be fair, some of them just aren’t that meticulous to begin with), which means staff are reluctant to give them anything to do.  And they fight and insult each other and drive me nuts sometimes, and other times they are SO helpful and wonderful and I’m thrilled to have them.  And I never know what kind of day we’re going to have or what kind of kids I’m going to get.  Will it be Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?  And if it’s the latter, would you please consider staying home?]

So, 2.  2 Very Big Things this week.

I managed to find a framework for my Greek Mythology event, which was pretty much solidified by Weds. evening.  I bought all the supplies on Thursday, in the hour before I had to go on desk all afternoon.  I put my volunteers to work making fall and Halloween decorations for the hallway, and they were happily busy for an hour creating the most beautiful sugar skulls.  I had one kid churn out about 30 ghosts that looked like they’d been die-cut with the same pattern.  Sort of looks like we have Storm Troopers up and down the hall, but that’s ok.  They were all busy and contained and I was able to talk with people and introduce myself to the new volunteers and give them some idea of what to expect – insanity, but hopefully fun, too, and a chance to meet some new people and hang out with their friends WHILE earning volunteer hours.  Not a bad deal.

Today, I finished the last of my prep work for the GM event while I was on desk, then set up the room and was ready in plenty of time for my – count ’em – 3 participants.  1 cancelled this morning, or it would have been 4.  But they were all willing participants, which is what makes working with teenagers so much fun.  They play with me.  And they will even embarrass themselves (occasionally) and do silly things – like making paper laurels and putting on sheet togas, and army crawling across the room through Arachne’s web (which I put up and then had to navigate myself – over and over again whenever I remembered Just One More Thing that had to go on that table all the way at the back.  Argh).  And it all worked out.  They had a good time.  *I* had a good time.  They took home all the leftover food AND helped me clean up the whole room (2 of them volunteer with me regularly).  It was a smashing end to the week.

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