I'm writing my directions with certain problem patrons in mind.
|This may be arts and crafts, but I mean business|
I've tried signs. I've stopped people at the door saying "Just to let you know, this project contains sharp metal objects/fire/needles/whatever; So we are only allowing older children to do it." I'm meet with looks like I am smug and crazy. Of course my little one can do it or, I'll do it for them (which is against the entire principle of making a craft program for kids)
But, I also cave and flip flop because I've recognize I work in an community where the practice of the arts is not as important as sports/farming/hunting etc. Unlike my upbringing, the only time kids in our community might get to do a craft is at school or at the library. This applies across the board. To the low income family that doesn't have the money to keep markers in the house, to the well off stay at home moms, who might have a Pinterest board full of activities but no motivation to actually do them with their kids.
Kids are coming to the library to learn new things and work with craft supplies they have never seen or even imagined. So I feel bad about denying access to these materials due to a child's age. I usually have plenty of supplies so I decide to give in and share.
Some times this has worked and been successful. A well behaved younger sibling has been able to grasp the concepts, respect the materials and not be disruptive. Last fall, I invited a group of rowdy girls who were playing tag in the stacks to come into my program and make something instead (even though they were younger than the ideal age group) They had a blast and their caregiver thanked me profusely, admitted that there isn't much opportunity in their home life to do crafts like this.
However, lighting didn't strike twice. For my December program, I had a mother burst in with two little girls and ask "Is this where me make ornaments?"
I had a bad feeling about this, but then I thought "What kind of Scrooge are you to deny kids a chance to make ornaments for their family? Its Christmas!"
Yeah in hindsight I should have been a Scrooge. I should have pointed out that we offered 4 other holiday programs that month for their age group but this program was specifically for older children. They misbehaved. They were pushy and demanded things, including the mother who went over to a group of teens and asked them to share the colored pencils, even though they were sitting at the same table. When the teens, graciously said yes, the mom took the entire box away and hoarded them just for her two kids. They also got bored and threw their stuff animals which hit me and knocked over supplies. When I address this behavior and asked them to stop, they laughed and stuck out their tongues. Oh yes, how I wish I had been a Scrooge that day....
Last week, I became over anxious that these kids would show up again to a Anti Valentines' day party and I would have put my foot down. I had my speech rehearsed and my finger nails bitten down with worry. Yes I would deny children entry to a party!
Thankfully they didn't show up and a bunch of teens had a relaxing fun time without little kids killing the vibe.
But those kids are still out there....
So I prep, worry and wait for the next program, trying to plan every possible outcome. We are going to have a few activities for Teen Tech Week including an afternoon of perler bead crafts. Hence the need for signs warning all under 6 to stay away with from the mad library tech and her hot iron. Hopefully I get a chance to man the craft table the entire afternoon and participate more.
Participation seems to be my only defense mechanism sometimes