I recently became a BookPal: a volunteer who reads to children at schools in neighborhoods that have a low median income. The idea is to expose children to a variety of interesting and educational books that will, hopefully, spark a lifelong love of reading. I firmly believe that education has the power to change lives, and reading is a huge part of that equation. Each BookPal is assigned classrooms that they read to every week, so the students, their teacher, and the volunteer become well-acquainted with one another. I read to first and second graders, and this week was my third week as a reader.
The morning before I read for the first time, I changed my outfit 3 times. I was aiming for kid-friendly, yet casual-trendy... Is that even a "thing?" first impressions are important, and I wanted the kids to see me as friendly and knowledgeable, yet hip. Six and seven year olds. Yeah.
I don't even remember what I wore, but it all worked out FINE! The teachers were welcoming and supportive, the children were attentive and interactive. It was GREAT!
The evening before my next read found me "cramming" like I did in college, only these were children's books. I was studying them to make sure they didn't contain anything inappropriate. I could not- WOULD not be responsible for corrupting any young minds. What if the teachers called the BookPals coordinator and asked for somebody new? Nuh-uh. Not on MY watch.
This week, I relaxed, a little. I chose ONE outfit and wore it, I didn't re-read all of the books, I arrived only 15 minutes early instead of 30 minutes, I was the picture of chill.
I spent the morning having to remind myself not to lean over because my blouse gaped open, and I managed to read two books that weren't entirely appropriate. At the end of my second class, the teacher showed me around the classroom, and I found myself wondering if it might be because I wasn't doing a good job, and she was trying to give me a clue. My self-talk went something like this:
And most people think AUDITIONS are rough.
I wish I could put a nice little bow on this, but I haven't resolved it yet. Next week may find me reading Dr. Seuss late into the night, and critiquing my ensemble several times before leaving home. But I'm going to keep showing up, and, in time, the voices in my head will have no choice but to fall in line.
Just like auditions.