Isn't that picture great? Nice storytime lady sitting serenely in her chair, shoes match the shirt and complement the skirt with legs properly crossed at the ankles(no varicose veins here!), surrounded by eager and willing listeners, rapt with attention...
Time for a reality check, folks. It's 10:15 on Tuesday. Poe (my mascot/puppet pal) and I announce storytime. For a moment, the crowd is silent, looking at me like I just sprouted snakes from my head. Then it begins. Mothers yanking toddlers to their feet, toddlers shrieking because they don't want to leave the train table, and me marching Poe and myself into the storytime room like I'm the Queen Mother. (Bow to my majesty, poor subjects!)
First in are the Eager Beavers. My regulars that I know by name--they say hi and want to pet Poe and all that happy stuff. Next come the Shy Attacks. Most of these are first timers that have never been around other kids and they spend the whole time hiding their faces in mom's armpit. Then we have the Feet Draggers. Still pouting (or shrieking) because they had to--gasp!--leave the train table for a lousy storytime!
I start with stretching exercises and use The Shakers (they're like mini maracas) for fun and noise. I start out normal, but thirty seconds in I'm cranked up to about two notches below a shout--not because of the kids, but the mothers! "Yappity, yappity, yadda yadda yadda, I take him to Dr. Whatsit then my breast milk dried up and do you still go to Gymboree and we're going to Aruba next Thursday and yadda-da-dadda and on and on" It's like a class reunion or something, every single week.
On to the stories. I make some kind of introduction on the theme (today it was bugs) and I'm just launching into my first story, complete with grand gestures and appropriate voices when...
The Johnny Come Lately's show up--those folks that run in their own personal time zone and zip code. Flinging open the door, out of breath "yadda da-dadda blah de blah", totally oblivious to the fact that they're LATE and storytime has started and did I mention they're LATE???
For those of you who have not experienced the joys of storytime I'll let you in on a little secret here. Toddlers (age 2-3 1/2, more or less) get distracted easily. Like really easily. One little sideshow, like someone coming in LATE, can set the whole flock off in a new direction.
Anyway, I soldier on, reading my stories, doing my fingerplays, singing my songs and dancing my dances--rising above the mom-cacophony, kicking ass, taking names, etc. etc. , doing my utmost to provide some kind of quality experience to the kids who really want to be there--until the clock strikes 10:45 and they all rumble out like a herd of elephants, strollers and all.
And I collapse in my chair, looking surprisingly like this: