Marcel is totally that bespectacled mole!

Marcel is that bespectacled mole!

O

n Tuesday, Marcel will report to work for his first shift as a library volunteer.

“How much are they paying him for this?” his father wanted to know.

“Nothing,” I replied tersely. “He’s a volunteer. They don’t pay volunteers.”

At 12, Marcel qualifies to serve as a teen volunteer with the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Libraries. An eight-week summer reading program open to library customers of all ages (online registration is accessible here) requires additional support staff. Enter the teens.

It seems fitting that the library should serve as the proving ground for any and all professional pursuits that may follow for our son; it has always been his favorite place in the world. The same librarian who asked him to recite The Lorax to another colleague when he was three supervises the program at the branch where he will be assigned—which is just a sweeter way of saying that she knows what she’s getting into.

You see, Marcel’s dreamy drifting through life’s tedious obligations can result in things being left…half-done—or undone, really, never picked up and started in the first place. It is for this reason as much as for any other that it seemed important for Marcel to begin to practice the steps that, in all likelihood, he will have to execute with some degree of competence as an adult to secure a paid position.

To volunteer at the library, Marcel had to ask for an application, fill it out, realize he only had half of it, go back to the librarian to ask for the second part of the form, fill that out, and then return it. He also attended an orientation this week, the final prerequisite to beginning his volunteer hours. He complained a little about wearing a collared shirt to the meeting but I told him that even the library stressed in its materials that “neatness counts!” Granted, the library staff is so beaten down that they’re just looking for teens to keep their shoes on and eliminate the “short shorts” and “bare midriffs” (true story), but I didn’t explain these subtleties to Marcel. He just would have started trying to get out of wearing the stupid shirt again.

When I was a little younger than Marcel, I had a very detailed, very boring fantasy about spending the night in the library. There was something romantic in the idea of being locked in overnight in that gracious space with no expectations placed upon my time there beyond reading whatever I wished. I appreciate the irony of sending my son into the library for an experience I hope to be in direct opposition to my own youthful ideal, but I ask you: how is a boy ever going to grow into a full-grown, actor/musician/archaeologist (in that order) without a few basic skills, hm?