Masked kids

I used to be quite knowledgeable about popular characters in children’s literature when my kids were little. I had a book worm who liked to spend her waking hours at the library. While checking out books for her, I got to know popular books that children read. The second one, however, was not much of a reader except for Garfield and Asterix. I still kept up with picture books and read to him to instill interest. He was more interested in tumbling around and lining up his toy cars.

While working at children’s desk, I acquired knowledge of children’s literature through my young customers, my amazing and knowledgeable colleagues and of course Google. Still many characters and titles of books that the children enquired about were unfamiliar to me. Often, I had trouble even understanding them. The reasons I could not understand them were sometimes adorable pronunciations of very young customers due to missing front teeth or their discomfort at talking to an adult. Many of them had trouble looking at me while saying the title of the book they wanted. I often asked, “Could you say the title one more time for me, honey?” And while they did, I surreptitiously typed the words I could decipher in Google to get the full title, which I then typed in our catalog search to see if we owned the book.

The pandemic hit. We closed the library for many months and I did not keep up with the popular characters of children’s literature. For example, I did not know till yesterday that the Berenstain Bears now had a baby sister!!Now that we are open and our young customers are skipping in to the library, I face a unique challenge. Masks on them make them even more indecipherable for me. Just the other day, a little girl came up to me asking for several titles. A children’s instructor perhaps would have known exactly what she was looking for. First of all, her mask combined with her cute way of talking made it difficult for me to understand her and on top of that, the titles were all unfamiliar. The poor kid must have thought who was this ignorant grown up and why was she at a children’s desk. She was very patient with me as we worked together to find most of the books she was looking for.

Pandemic brought with it unique challenges. I am adding masked kids as one of them. 🤣🤣

Having said that, my heart truly sings to see the enthusiasm for books in children of all ages who come in dancing and skipping into the library and get instantly lost in the stacks to take home stories. Their joy gives me hope.

Growing my blog

I published a new blog today and after 5 hours of publishing it, my viewership is 17. I have had 10 visitors and my blog site has been viewed 17 times. Before the day ends, if I get 30 views, I will call it a successful blog post day. I guess the whole point of putting one’s thoughts online for public consumption is to have public actually consume it. Well, public in general is not consuming my blog at all. There are, I believe, many reasons for it.

Folks do not like what I write or how I write.

Folks are not interested in what I say or have to say.

There are many engaging reading materials out there.

I am not reaching out or engaging in the blogging community to bring in more viewers.

I seem to be getting followers but they are simply not reading my blogs.

There are myriad of other reasons but my brain is too tired to think of those.

Since there were 0 views on the blog for the last 3 days before I published one blog today, I started wondering what I should do to promote viewership. Should I write more, read more blogs of other bloggers, join blogging groups, comment and like blogs, all of the above?

Then I thought about why I write. I started writing blogs when I was going through a difficult time about 9 years ago. I do not want to share specifics. The blogs were happy and cheery tales of my children. While life was full of terrible anxiety, the blogs were full of sweetness and happy thoughts. They allowed me to cope with reality. This site was my happy place. After the crisis passed, children grew and life became busier, the blog site was mainly forgotten till the pandemic hit. Again, the blogs came to my rescue. I started putting down my thoughts, memories and stories on this platform, ones I thought were worth sharing. Although very few people read it, I have one dedicated reader who reads it without fail, rates them with 5 stars and posts a love on my Facebook share, and tells me often that my blogs make her happy. Her love matters most as these blogs contain a large part of her tween and teenage, her mother’s thoughts and stories of her life. These blogs will hopefully serve as her treasure chest of memories once I am gone.

So do I want viewership to my blogs grow? Absolutely! Will I make an effort to be part of a blogging community? No. The reasons being I am lazy, I like to read books, write my thoughts once in a while and watch Call of the Midwives obsessively (lately).

At the end of the day, I write because it makes me happy. Some of you read the blogs and leave a comment or like. That makes me happy too Thank heavens I kept my day job! 😀

Thou shalt not judge….or in my case, thou shalt not presume!

I go to an inexpensive hair cutting salon for primarily two reasons. I can not justify spending a bunch of money on a hair cut, it is just not that important to me, and secondly, the beautiful, decked up stylists intimidate me. I like this particular chain of hair cutting salons where the stylists come primarily from South East Asia. I have been going there for the last 8 years. While I do have my favorite, I can’t always make an appointment with her due to our mutual schedule conflicts. When I get into her appointment book, I feel a joy comparable to winning a lottery. The joy, not because I will come back with a Vogue’s front cover worthy hair cut but simply because I love talking to this gentle, unassuming, kind lady from Vietnam. She always remembers my children’s name, their grades, she inquires about Sean. I like to know about her aging mother, her only son’s summer internship, her husband’s failing health. We are not friends, yet we share some meaningful slices of our lives with each other as she gives shape to my hair. I cherish that.

The times I don’t get her, we nod to each other conspiratorily as she looks up from whose hair she is styling and I follow the stylist I got that day. Every stylist I get, I get a story as well, a quick peek into another individual’s life, that they willingly share. I hear about a promising footballer’s high school football team, as his mother cuts my hair. I hear the hidden pride in the mother’s voice as she tells me he is a scholar athlete. We commiserate on parenting woes and both agree it is the toughest job on earth. I congratulate her on raising a great young man. Another stylist complains to me her husband doesn’t support her in teaching her biracial child her language – Spanish. She is from Colombia married to an American. A different stylish calls me ‘honey poo’ and ‘sweetie pie’ as I try hard not to stare at her HUGE false eyelashes. They don’t always give me great hair cuts, but I feel at home with them. And that comfort, to me, is important.

On a Saturday morning, I went to get a hair cut and found the place teeming with customers. As I waited, I played the guessing game, which stylist will I get that day. I knew all of them except one. She was elderly, somewhat stooped with age, frail with thick glasses, of South East Asian descent. She was at the front of the store struggling to understand the workings of the computer as she tried to take payment from her customer. The customer, a middle aged woman, was obviously in a hurry to be on her way, as she made certain gestures of impatience and mumbled under her breath, ‘oh dear Lord!’ The elderly woman was trying all sorts of keys and was getting increasingly flustered as the impatience of her customer rose. The manager finally came to help and I discovered her grasp of English was seriously lacking.

As I said earlier, I am not discerning about who cuts my hair as long as they have a license, yet I found myself wishing that I don’t get the elderly lady. I had already judged her seeing her lack of computer skills, her flustered demeanor, lack of confidence that I perceived. I got her, though.

‘Next!’ She said.

As I followed her to the chair, I thought to myself, so I will go home with a bad haircut. No big deal, my hair grows fast. It will be fine in 2 weeks.

‘Shampoo?’ She asked.

As she shampooed my hair, I started to relax under her gentle, yet firm massaging of my head. And like a predictable fairy tale ending,she gave me the best cut that I have ever had in that place! She didn’t speak much English, but that has never deterred me from conversing with an individual. In the course of 20-25 minutes, she not only gave me a fantastic hair cut, she also imparted life lessons like the purpose of life, selflessness, needs versus wants and that much sought after happiness that can be found in simple things. She said she had been a hair stylist all her life in reputed salons. But she doesn’t do it anymore because now she has a little grandson who needs her. Her daughter doesn’t earn enough to pay for childcare, so she gave up her career to care for her grandchild. She said there is no end to our wants and needs, and yes she needs money, yet she is not ready to trade the joy of watching her grandson over dollars. She is ready to go without. She opted for happiness at this point in her life. She takes her grandson to free library classes and playgrounds. She pushes him on swings and chases butterflies, she pets puppies with him and goes to pet stores to look at kittens, she cooks his meals and puts him down for naps. And she tells him stories. Life couldn’t be better. I saw her smiling through the mirror as she talked and I smiled with her.

‘Looks like you have a sweet young man to keep you company!’ I said.

‘Oh! He sweet! You see picture?’ She laughed with a young girl’s trill.

‘Yes please!’ I said.

She stopped cutting my hair midway, got out a picture of a chubby little 2 year old from her wallet and handed it to me. I cooed over it and the proud grandmother stood tall in her diminutive frame, smiling the sweetest smile.

She resumed her work, and I silently chastised myself for presuming. I strive not to judge, yet I fail.

As she swung away the protective cloth from my body she asked me,

‘You like?’

She made me look good, very good.

‘I don’t like it. I love it! Thank you. May I have your card?’ I asked.

She handed me her card with a smile. She works just one day a week, when her daughter is home to take care of her grandson. I left a large tip, not just for the hair cut but for the life lessons as well. And, perhaps, atonement?