This has disturbed me for several years.
Back in high school, I used to work at my town's public library.
My nameplate said I was "Mr. Serotkin, Audio/Visual Aide," but in reality
I was "Ian, Children's Computer Room Supervisor." Basically, I was
in charge of making sure the children played nice with the Macintoshes,
played nice with each other, and didn't break anything. When something
did break (most likely due to one of the librarians touching a computer
without me hovering nearby to make sure nothing exploded), I had to switch
into sysadmin mode and be Mr. Fix-It. All in all, it was a relatively
low-stress job working with kids, which was, despite my inital misgivings,
really fun and rewarding. I actually enjoyed helping kids learn how
to use computers--aid that just wasn't available when I was growing up.
I also got to spend 3/4ths of my time going around the firewall to idle
on IRC during the slow periods. :)
I've got pretty thick skin, and by two or three months into my three
year reign as King of the Computer Room, nothing the kids did would really
faze me anymore. I also got paid well for my job, almost double the
minimum wage crap most of my friends were making, and that helped too.
The parents were a bit more aggravating, as I had to kowtow to them most
of the time, but most types I could handle with ease.
There were three or four sets of parents who used the children's room as a permanent
day care center. On a typical school day, I would get to the library
at 4 PM--right when the after-school crowd of kids would start milling
The "day care" kids were already there.
They'd just sit at one of the tables, doing homework for hours upon
hours at a time. Hours. I don't know how much homework these
kids actually had, but I can't remember ever doing more than an hour or
two a night when I was in elementary school. They'd use the computers
intermittently, but only after they'd been there for five hours already
and had quadruple-checked all their homework.
When they had a problem with their homework, they called me over and
asked me to help them with it. When they were having trouble spelling
a word, they asked me to spell it for them. Some of the younger ones
would even ask me to help them go to the bathroom and tie their shoelaces
(which I would refuse to do).
This crap was not in my job description.
I asked some of the children's librarians I trusted for clarification
about this stuff, and the response was basically, "We know. We're
sick of dealing with it too. But, they have a right to bring their
children here, and there's no limit to how long they can stay here.
So, there's nothing we can do about it."
I tried keeping a logbook for a while to track just how much some of
these kids were in my care, but it was impossible since half the time they'd
be there before I got there and leave after I had already left. Half
an hour before the library closed--sometimes later--the parents would come,
look over the kids' homework, and finally leave with them. The kicker
was that they'd completely ignore myself and the librarians. In my
three years there, I was never thanked once for basically
guarding over their children for upwards of thirty hours
I know that day care is expensive. I know that both parents sometimes
have full-time jobs. I know that the public library is free, close
to home, supervised, and safe. But...
I am not their schoolteacher.
I am not a day care worker.
Raise your own fucking children.