I work in public service. People ask me questions all day long. When
the kids are inquiring, you can’t quite predict what they will say.
Sometimes they make me chuckle or laugh, sometimes they flat out stump
me. But no matter the request, I try to put on my answer face and do
my best to provide what they need. I’m a Children’s Librarian and
happy to help any one that needs it– adults or kids. On weekends I
put on my bookseller hat and suggest, recommend, wrap ad ring up. I
find the two jobs complement each other. I’ve recently added a third
teaching job. But these two weeks you can find me in the kitchen
preparing lunch for hungry campers.
It seems that in all my jobs, the requests keep coming in. Can you
find this? Do you have this? Where might this be? Can you get me this?
Can you bake for the bakesale? Can you drive to the meeting? Can you
stop on your way and pick this up? Can you bring this in? The yeses
pile up. Steady and stable at first, then more piled on top of that.
Higher and higher until they threaten to topple over; crashing and
smashing. My responsibilities left in pieces beyond repair, strewn all
over the floor.
We say that my son is the juggler in the family. I don’t so much
juggle as carry. He may toss the rings into the air, I try to maneuver
and balance an increasingly heavy load. It’s what I’ve always done.
It’s all I know.
It is hard to say No. But I’m trying. In some ways it is probably the
kindest thing both for me and for the one doing the asking. My head
knows this, but my heart doesn’t.
It’s a small word, you wouldn’t think I would have trouble saying it.
But I do.
If I had said No to camp, I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to
reconnect with old friends, taste fresh bread assembled by little
hands and baked in the outdoor oven. I wouldn’t have had a gaggle of
teens in my car laughing, talking and singing with the windows rolled
way down. I wouldn’t have gotten this great photo. I wouldn’t have
wanted to miss any of it.
But late at night when my mind won’t quite racing and I’m exhausted
from staying up late trying to help someone out, I think about saying
that I can’t do something and it hurts me. As if I am weak or
inconsiderate. I think about their reaction and how I will handle it.
It’s not easy. Maybe it’s not meant to be.
No may only have two letters, but it takes a really strong person to
say it when it needs to be said.
If I did would I have more time to write, take pictures, sleep, clean,
and attend to everything I keep sweeping to the side?