One of the interesting dynamics of being an elementary school librarian is the number of daily thank you’s received from students, with this clarification.
Invariably at the end of each library session, as part of the lining-up departure protocol, classroom teachers thoughtfully orchestrated an on-cue, in unison, “thank you” from all their students.
With hundreds of thank you’s received each week, times the number of school weeks, times the number of years served, the number of thank you’s I received easily equal more than one hundred thousand.
And each group of thank you’s, no matter how forced and rote, always brought a grateful smile to accompany my response, “You are very welcome.”
There was one spontaneous, solitary thank you, offered by a precocious history-loving second grader, that permanently touched my heart.
“You really ‘get’ me…Thank you,” the student said, when I handed him a book I “knew” he would like.
In the hectic pace of book checkout, I might not have fully appreciated that statement, but, fortunately, months before, when the child’s mother had stopped by the library to borrow some books, she said something that stopped me.
“My son really appreciates you,” she said. “He loves coming to the library. He says you really understand him and what he likes to read.”
“Thank you,” I said. And I really meant it then…and I mean it even more now.
Thank you for letting me know. Thank you for validating what I tried to do for all the students. Thank you for giving me the retirement gift of knowing that for at least one child, what I did mattered.
And as I wish the new media specialist every blessing, I especially hope that he or she will communicate to that grateful student, going into fourth grade, that he still is understood, and in return, that he or she receives the gift of being understood, too.
There is no gift we want more, no matter what our age, I think, than the gift of being understood.
In light of your retirement, has someone really understood and appreciated who you are and what you have done? I hope so!