No Library

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.


  1. Ha! I’ve actually never heard anyone talk about this but I kind of feel the same way. We go every other week, for about the past year, and since I had absolutely no reference point for it I was continuously like, “Why is this so impossible?” Ripping all the hold slips out of books and hiding them somewhere, running through the stacks faster than I can keep up with, being immediately tired/hungry/bored/needing to go potty. Something. And lugging a giant basket of picture books to checkout while trying to keep track of her (her not running out the door, while I’m checking out). Agh. I think the library should have shopping carts for toddlers. We’re at that age where she refuses to get in the stroller (and can unbuckle herself and climb out) but still can’t really be controlled. And there’s me, trying to read Tasha Tudor to her. . . . Sigh. Someday.

  2. Hahaha! This is so classic! “No library” for us either, but, as you say, sometimes Mom forgets and believes the charming 2 year old:)

  3. What a great post! So funny (for me reading it 😉 ) and so refreshingly honest! I really mean this: You are such a great mom!!!

  4. Thanks for the reminder of what it is like from your perspective. I am a librarian.

  5. This reminded me of many years ago having a loud argument with my son in our library, as I tried to explain that he couldn’t take all the libraries books on space out, because it wasn’t fair on other readers. I’m sure I must have seemed like a terrible mother.

  6. Ha! Been there-ish. I only have 3 and they are all girls but oh, goodness when they act up and you can’t rely on distraction tactics and even if you don’t usually holler at your kids but you went to and can’t. Hang in there!!

  7. Jodi Lloyd says:

    Some day you’ll look back at this post and smile. It may be a long while. And by then you’ll be back at the library enjoying every book!

    Keep smiling, Mama. Some days are rough!

  8. Girl, I will trade you Anelia for you guy any day!

    Ani is known to have FITS in the middle of the grocery store. And instead of sympathy for my ( 8 year old, obviously blind and “globally delayed” child) I get stares. And eye rolling.

    You took your kids to the LIBRARY with a wee babe in tow!

    You get the mom of the year award! Don’t let anyone take that from you!!


  9. Mom of eight here and you will read what you have written in 20 years and laugh. Remember God only gives you what you can handle, just wish he would distribute it a little better. My third child ( a girl) was Job. I would wake up in the morning and say it would be a good day. It was crushed the moment she was at the breakfast table. We all live through that “one” and they seem to become your closest as an adult.

  10. I can’t even…

    Anyway, I love the picture of Jonny showing the beautiful grain to Trudy & Weasel. My husband talks to the animals too.

  11. I guess there are some advantages after all to living in a small town with a small library. There are just enough books too keep the kids interested, but not too many to overwhelm. From the tables in the kids section, a parent could see all the shelves. The thing I always forgot about was keeping track of due dates. Oh, those tricky librarians know what they’re doing when they let a kid check out 30 books on his card. Cha-ching!

  12. Anyone who can’t sympathize either didn’t have active toddlers to care for or it makes them feel justified to criticize others the way they were. Remember the humor that a naughty boy can provide.

  13. Oh my goodness…sometimes it’s just nice to hear other people saying the same things I say! ha, ha. The library is wonderful and dreadful at the same time!

  14. Oh goodness Ginny, I think every mother has had embarrassing scenes like you describe! Normal kid behavior. Thank goodness your children are active and reading, not sitting on the couch in front of the screen. As far as damaged books – I just paid for one that the puppy dragged out of my son’s backpack and chewed up….And my son also tells people things I would prefer that they not know. There is a semi-abandoned house that is apparently infested with rats, near our farm. Last winter a rat got in our house through the crawl space under the kitchen. After many encouraging words to the cats, and attempts to trap it, we had to resort to putting out poison (which I hate) to get rid of it. I was mortified to discover, when my son brought his journal home from school, that the rat in the house had been prominently featured in that week’s journal entry!

  15. Oh my goodness, that is hilarious! I’m sure not at the time it was happening, but those stories are the very things that make the best memories and get the best laughs. You are a great mom!

  16. This made me laugh! Not in an awful mean way, but in an “omg, that would be me and I’ve only got 2 kids” kind of way. We don’t do the library AT ALL! The kids running around like little maniacs only being part of the reason – I’m awful at remembering to return books, so I end up owning what I take out anyway.

  17. I am cringing for you but I am sure that anyone with kids would have been thinking sympathetic thoughts and not judging you in the slightest! Good for you in producing engaged, educated kids who take an interest in reading.

  18. Sounds as if running off has become a game. I think the double stroller is a great idea. If Jobie or Silas won’t stay with mommy, then mommy will buckle them in the stroller for time out (if he has a fit so what if people stare…everybody has been there). I’d get one with a five point harness that is hard to wriggle out of. Hang in there.

  19. I only have three children, and I have stuff like that happen at the library, too –

    The library inspires bad things in my littlest one, who also enjoys running away and emptying shelves, but some of the worst scenes are with my big 11 year old, who ought to know better. They have computer games set up in the library here, and it’s always a horrible scene to drag him away.

    Once I didn’t think very well and took all 3 of them into a bead store. It wasn’t pretty. I had brought the Ergo to help control my littlest one, but she managed to kick her foot so that her shoe flew off all the way into the middle of the store….the ladies at the counter were so glad when we were gone!

  20. Oh my yes! I used to wonder if our home was the home that wrecked the library books when my 4 older kiddos were young! Now I’m wiser & I don’t let the little ones have the library books – we read them at bedtime & put them up! Thankfully our librarians have always loved us so we can’t have been that bad (they even put me on a special membership as a homeschooling Mum!).
    Thanks for being honest about real life 🙂
    That’s why I love your blog!!

  21. I thought I was the only homeschool mom who hated going no to the library!! I’ve been feeling inadequate and guilty- thank you for your honest and humerous post!! With four in tow ( the youngest 1 and 3) it so rapidly spirals out of control- and I avoid going back for weeks, so of course I’m always acquiring fees! It’s a viscous cycle! Glad to not be alone in this library stress club!

  22. Oh my goodness, this sounds like me, only I start yelling. The ladies at England Run start crying whenever they see or hear me.

  23. I only have the two boys and taking them to the library is…..not fun. The big one is fine. It’s the little one that’s a pain in the butt. To be fair, he’s not quite two yet and he gets really mad because I won’t let him chew the books or rip pages when we get home (he gets even madder when we return them).

    And the running….I’m seriously considering putting the little one in the monkey leash. I never thought I would leash my kids….and then I had the big one dart into the street at 2 years old (and the little one has tried it but I’ve caught him early enough). That was enough of that. I physically can’t hold onto either one forever. And trying to find books at the library when the little one is trying to squirm out of my arms….yeah, no thanks. ::sigh::

  24. This is why we have a library of our own. Well, that and a huge lack of self contol on Amazon. God Bless You Ginny!

  25. The online library request system and then the hold shelf are my best friends! !! I used to feel guilty requesting 20-30 books at a time, running in with the little one and a grabbing them off the hold shelf. Makes life easier right now!!

  26. so funny – still no glitter in this house!

  27. This is why I don’t take my kids to the library. Or the grocery store. Or anywhere other than church or the park! Well, not the almost-7-year-old anyway! The toddlers (2 and 1) are just fine. The eldest is a nightmare. I’ve experienced too much public humiliation to be fooled again! 😉

  28. Oh my goodness I had to laugh as I was reading this! Especially that last part. My oldest two (they’re 6 and 4) have almost always been great in the library. My youngest however, at only 14 months is already giving me a run for my money. I may have to institute a library ban as he gets older…

  29. I’ve had a library ban for at least a decade! Lol! I think I can remember each one of my kids doing the run around the stacks from Mommy thing.

    Last year, thinking I was safe with my youngest being two, we dropped the big girls off to babysit at Mary’s Shelter, and I took the four youngest, 9, 7, 4, and 2, to the library. I was basking in the happiness of it when my four year old wet his pants. I had just a little purse, with nothing but a tiny travel enviro cloth to try to mop up the floor. No diaper bag, no extra clothes, and over an hour until I had to pick up the girls. Oh well!

    We finally last week had a successful, relaxed trip with no running, no tears, and everyone happy when we left.

    • Theresa Dorsey says:

      As a librarian, bring it on!!

      We get played to shelve books and prefer you not but them back yourself.

  30. I had a library ban for awhile after my three year old (who was outgrowing nap time but still had a daily “quite time”) snuck in a contraband library book (I knew enough to say books we own in your room are OK for quiet time when the door is shut, but library books stay in the living room) and, consequently, when I went to check on him, every. single. page. of the book was neatly ripped out and they were all lined up in a giant square. When I asked him why he would do this he told me, “I didn’t like that this story had a soft cover.”

    He had to go explain to the librarian and thankfully, we got a nice teenage girl and not a “scary” librarian. Then we took a library break and now, with a two year old younger brother and me with a third baby coming soon…if I take them to the library we visit the small branch. All on one level, no chasing & no terrible stairs! I am a child who grew up practically at the library so it is very important to me (actually, I was banned as an elementary school student by my mom one summer because my fines were so high!), but sometimes at certain ages, stepping back for a bit is okay I’ve realized 🙂

  31. Pamela R says:

    I am a HUGE library lover and I have to say that with each of my children, I avoided taking them to the library at a certain age. It just isn’t fun to have a babe in a sling and be trying to pick up all the books that they so excitedly pulled from the shelves (all of them…on multiple shelves). However, know that it really is the case that this situation bothers you more than anyone else. In fact, I used to feel so uncomfortable when it was me and now it’s much easier to walk up to someone struggling and ask if I can be of help.

    That being said, I opted for other activities for awhile with the little ones at that magic age. Library or park? Park please!

    Thanks for sharing this!

  32. carrying, not carry

  33. I had a child who behaved like an angel in the library. And the playground. And the store. And the restaurant. That is, until it was time to leave . . .then . . .cue the meltdown. Birthday parties were the absolute worst!

    I’m sure we were known in the neighbourhood as “those parents who always seem to be carry a sobbing, screaming, kicking kid out of some building or other.”

  34. You are a dear. I just want to hug you! You are doing an amazing job and I wish more and more that I was your next door neighbor so I could have someone who related to me on a daily basis.
    Thanks for sharing!

  35. Cindy in NC says:

    I’m laughing even though I shouldn’t. Thanks to my children, there are a number of “library incidents” in my past. Next week I begin caring for my three-month-old granddaughter when her mama returns to work. While doing grocery shopping and errands this morning I kept wondering how I will fare next week with a baby in tow. I think I’ll stay away from the library for a while. It’s been more than 20 years, but they probably still remember me there.

  36. My husband is a librarian in the children’s section and I have found that my children behave at the library a bit like I remember the pastor’s kids behaving at church 😉

    Also he assures me over and over that they really don’t mind reshelving the books. I suspect that’s to help me keep some dignity though!

  37. My kids are now 4, 6, and 8, and I recently made a vow to not take them to the grocery store by myself. At least the library kids section is intended to be kid friendly. The last 2 grocery trips involved a grocery cart on its side, with 2 kids in it, and peanut butter out of a grinding machine on the counter. It’s so tempting when you just need a couple of things, but it’s just never worth it! So until they can earn to behave, they’ll have to live without whatever we run out of! Usually fruit.

  38. As an old woman who raised four children (with five years between the eldest and youngest — yeah — that close!) please believe me when I say this:

    1.) Your children will remember the fun they had going places with mom.
    2.) Other children behave much, much worse and much more destructively.
    3.) Two-year-olds don’t hear Mom — a condition that lasts until they are 27 OR have their OWN children.
    4.)Librarians, teachers, ministers, musicians, and artists, among many others, are thrilled you bring your children out to “see” them. They wisely know that your children are learning, are curious, and are influenced by what they experience. And, they are glad to share. Trust me on this. I am a demonstrator in a state park and I LOVE for children to handle my spinning wheel, fibers, and such… even the kid who wound my roving around my wheel’s maiden and I had to cut her out! LOL
    5.) You will miss these special days when they are past. I’m a grandmama now and I miss my wee ones every day…

    Take a deep breath, a long bath, and let go of imagining what others are thinking. Believe me, there isn’t nearly as much judgement as we Moms believe there is! And that was the hardest lesson I ever had to learn… I am much harder on myself than anyone else would be. <3

  39. Before I was a stay-at-home mom, I was a librarian, and now, with four children ages five and under, I am trying harder and harder to avoid taking them to the library. Just the other day, a tantrum/fight over a book drew the attention of the library security guard. He stood and stared at us until I was able to quit nursing and get the heck out of there. Truly mortifying. I can totally sympathize, and if I ever work as a librarian again, I vow to make families feel as welcome as possible, no matter what.

  40. You probably weren’t looking for advice, but how about a double stroller? For the new baby and two year old, at least. There are also these kinds of things: . Not cheap, but they sure save wear and tear on family outings. Maybe you could find a used one. It may be worth serious consideration. Professional grade child care equipment is worth it when you have a large active family. Otherwise, you will be stuck at home too much. And that’s not such a good thing, either. Good luck and God bless!

  41. Jean G. Woodhouse says:

    Well written Ginny.

  42. I had my baby a few days before you had yours and he is going to end up with shaken baby syndrome as he was laying on my chest when I read this and I was laughing so hard his little body was bobbing up and down so fast! I have 6 children and my Jobie’s name is Rosie, guurl, I have been there! Too funny.

    Sorry to see there are some nasty judgmental ladies commenting on this post, it is too funny and sweet for you to have to put up with them! Your honesty is refreshing and makes the rest of us feel normal! God bless you and your sweet family.

  43. anniekitching says:

    You are so funny. I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets in these situations. Monica is just now beginning to get a little heavy for me to pick up from the floor – right when she has decided that having a public melt-down is an interesting concept… full shopping card, heavy tote and a dead-weight three year old screaming….that was me in the grocery store last week. So, I know that feeling of just wanting to take off!

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