The favorite part of my job happens twice on Wednesdays, at 10 and 11 a.m. I sing to and with parents and children, many of whom are under the age of one. My Mother Goose story time is billed as “for children 6 mos. to 24 mos.” but I often get siblings older and younger than that.
We sing many songs. But only three really touch me, and no, “Itsy bitsy spider” is not one of them. We open with “The more we get together” (Because your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends). We close with “If you’re happy and you know it” (Or sad, or angry.) I really stomp my feet for “if you’re angry and you know it.” And somewhere in the middle, we sing the chorus to one of my favorite songs, “You are my sunshine.” We live in Pittsburgh where the sun doesn’t always shine, especially in the middle of the grey winter. So every week, rain or shine, we sing “You are my sunshine” which my father often sang to me, and which he told me that Jimmy Davis used in his gubernatorial campaign.*
I don’t wear any political pins once I’m at work. (I do have one on the lapel of the jacket I wear outside.) My mother and I recently had a conversation where she couldn’t believe that people at my workplace talk about politics (we talk to each other, not to the patrons) because she and the other teachers don’t talk about it at all. (My mother teaches second grade.) My mother is the most private person I know. “It’s between me and the voting machine.”
And I would never dream to express my political views to someone I am helping as we look for a book, or sing a song while they hold their children on their laps. But I did smile as yesterday I helped someone put copies of one of the current presidential candidates’ books on hold. I would have given the same service had the other candidate’s book been in question. But as a person, not just as a librarian, it tickled me that someone wanted to read those books.
A few years ago, the Steelers (or Stillers, if you’re really from da Burgh) were going for their fifth Superbowl win. I don’t really follow football, but I am fiercely loyal once we get into the playoffs. Even the road (black with gold lines) seemed to be rooting for the Steelers. It was insanity, and not just for me. A mother came up to me at story time and said, “This is the one place I can come where no one talks about football.” I was glad to offer her that space.
So in this last less than a month, almost just a week before this historical election in the United States, I grin to myself that without meaning to, we are singing a political song when we sing “You are my sunshine.”
I sing it because it reminds me of my dad, and while all the mama’s and papa’s are holding their little ones close, I hold my stuffed Olivia doll and look out at all the smiling, squirming children.
You Are My Sunshine
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You’ll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away