There's nothing like a kindergartener, all bright eyes and pudgy hands, squealing with delight over this object, this thing that I, too, love. And the jaded lanky fifth graders, coming in all cool, and then they grab a book and sit in a corner and get so absorbed or show off books to their friends.
I've realized something over the course of the week: my job as book fair person is to bear witness. A kid will come up to me all excited and discuss the pros and cons of a book. Or they'll ask for help finding something. Or three of them will cluster around me, pulling my sleeve and vying for attention. They'll explain about how they're buying this for their little sister who is only three, or they'll ask how much a book is and whether they have enough money. All the microcosms of society are there: every once in a while a kid will try to steal something but then there's many more generous kids who are paying for their friends' books.
And it's my job to listen and affirm. But what I realized is that that's my job in all areas of my life. It's my job to affirm my family. It's my job as a marketer to affirm the educational institution I work for. It's my job as a writer, too. I'm telling the stories of characters, of people. I'm listening to the world and then mirroring it back, trying to show the world itself.
And in the process I'm trying to affirm myself. That's something I felt was missing in my childhood. No one listened, and I believed almost until I was thirty that I was invisible.
And so, in addition to being the keeper of memories, we also make people real to themselves.
(Hey, that's also what I do as a parent!)