January 11, 2014

A Commitment To Connect

2014 is here and like each New Year that dawns, resolutions seem to populate our language and actions (at least for a while). Resolutions come and go at the drop of a hat, so I propose we ditch 'em and instead, choose commitment.  A commitment to connect.

The kind of commitment I'm advocating for requires no outlet, modem, Wi-Fi or smartphone. Sure, those things can help us make contact with each other, but they can't connect us in close, personal, meaningful ways.  They are at best, poor substitutes for real connection, and at worst, dangerous illusions.

It's the equivalent of how many "friends" one has on Facebook versus how many actual friends one holds close.  And intimacy? Is it fingertips on a keyboard typing a message of support or outstretched arms that become a warm embrace?  We cannot delude ourselves into believing they are one in the same.  If so, we do so at our own and our others’ emptiness, to be sure.

As a children's librarian, my heart is with the non-adult population - from the tiniest of newborns to the gangliest of teenagers.  That birth through teen menagerie, full of both delight and angst, are our individual and collective responsibility.  We are their most powerful teachers, whether we recognize it or not. They are always learning from us.  They watch what we do and then internalize our actions as being what we value - and they're right.  That alone should give great pause as adults - great pause to commit to connect in non-technological ways with our kids.

So, let's put down our phones and tablets, turn off our computers, set the Xboxes aside and really spend person-to-person time with our kids. They need us and we need them. Let's let them know who we are and also find out who they are and what they want, need, think and dream of.  They depend on us to chart their path. They will hold memories of us long after we've left their lives. Let's make sure their memories are of our voices and not our texts; of our laps and arms and not some apps. Let's make sure it’s us they remember and not our devices. Let’s talk with them, laugh with them, sing with them, cry with them, take walks with them, cook with them, eat with them, explore the natural world with them – let’s be together with them, really together.

All of us at Neill Library are committed to supporting you in this connection-making process.  No matter how young or old your child is, books are another perfect way to both make and deepen that connection. From nonfiction books on spiders and sports to amazing biographies, to beautiful picture books to traditional fairytales to teenage spy novels and more.  We can help you connect with your kids.  

2014 here. Let's make a commitment to truly connect with our kids this year. And let’s start today.  

Kathleen Ahern,
Youth Service Librarian
published in Moscow Pullman Daily News, January 11, 2014.

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