I sometimes forget that taking young children to the library is something that I ban from time to time like markers or glitter.
Today Larkspur asked if I could take her and Beatrix to the library at 3 o’clock to meet friends. I needed to go to the nearby post office anyway, and Gabe wanted a haircut at the barber shop round the corner, so I said sure. In a moment of fuzzy-headed-ness, I thought that this would be great. The little boys could look at books, the girls could see their friends, and I would have Mabel in the sling. No problem.
As we pulled into the parking lot, I went over the rules with Silas and Job in my best gentle, yet VERY serious, mom voice.
“Remember we don’t shout in the library. You stay with me, and NO RUNNING.”
Job piped up, “No running? …Walking?”
“That’s right Job, no running, only walking.”
I believed him. (I never learn.)
We entered the library, smiling and excited. All the books. All the possibility! We marched upstairs and onto the children’s floor. It was a busy day at the library. Lots of people. Lots of children behaving well. My kids too. The girls found their friends and Silas, Job, and I (Mabel in the sling) started looking at books. It didn’t take Silas long to declare that there weren’t any good books. You know, in the whole children’s section. None. I started pulling books from the shelves and suggesting them to him, but they all “looked boring.”
I noticed Job was missing and started walking around looking for him. He was of course at the water fountain. I have a bit of a water fountain phobia. I used my sing song voice, “No, no Job! There are bad germs on that!” I am trying to train him early to avoid water fountains, though I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what germs are yet. He gave me a grin and took a big drink before following me back to the books.
All seemed well again, though I noticed a familiar glint in Job’s eyes. Sure enough, a few minutes later he giggled and started running. I called him back, “No running, Job!” But he kept running. What a fun game! I didn’t chase him though for two reasons: I find it very difficult to run with a newborn in a sling, and I also tend to cling to my pride in public situations. I stayed calm and eventually convinced him to return to choosing books, though at this point I noticed that we had three canvas bags full. It was really time to go. But Larkspur and Beatrix wanted more time with their friends. And Gabe wasn’t back from the barber shop yet. I squatted down to dig through the bags and see what the kids had chosen to check-out while Job and Silas sat near me, looking at books. I failed to notice when Job started emptying shelves, despite the fact that I was about three feet away. I stood up and walked around a large footstool that was situated between me and the boys, and it was only then that I saw Job grabbing another book to add to one of several very large, messy stacks of books spilling all over the floor.
At this point I realized I had a small audience, which was slightly mortifying. I was a little unsure of how to proceed. I just wanted so badly to leave, but I was trapped! Naughty child, mess of books on the floor, bags of books to check out. Holding Mabel (who is beginning to fuss in the sling) with one arm while bending over, I started neatening Job’s stacks, because surely making them neater would improve things. I used my vocal power to stop Job from “choosing” anymore. Eventually I had to stop my useless stacking to grab his arm as my power was failing. A librarian who must have been alerted to the situation (mom who can’t control her children) arrived on the scene. Gesturing toward my stacks on the floor she asked, “Are these the ones you don’t want?” I apologized and she started loading them all onto a shelving cart. “I thought I could handle taking the new baby and the two year old to the library. I was wrong.” I explained. She smiled sympathetically. Thank goodness. (love her!)
I gathered up the other children and the bags of books and we headed downstairs after one last fun game of “Where’s Jobie?!”
But of course then I had to check out all those books. I won’t give you a play by play of how the little boys behaved for that. When a friend walked up and asked, “Need a hand?” I didn’t hesitate to hand her Mabel.
As the librarian checked out our books Larkspur exclaimed, “Quite a few of these won’t make it back in one piece!” Beatrix quickly chimed in with a, “Yeah!” I chose to remain silent and avoid eye contact with the librarian at that moment, though I died a little on the inside.
No markers, no glitter, no library. And I promise to pay for any damaged books.