Story Time

It’s a good thing I believe in the power of reading – because if I didn’t, there’s no way I’d take my kids to the library.  Time after time, it proves to be a taxing experience – one I’m not sure is balanced by the benefits of the books we obtain.

The kids, however, love it.  So much, in fact, that they burst through the doors like an invading army, one running this way, one the other.  Unfortunately, the front doors deposit us right into the “quiet” section of the library.  While I try to corral them towards the book drop, they dodge and weave, this last time with Julia lighting upon the stack of rolling bins “just like the ones at the grocery store, Mama” to tote books around in – even though I can’t get her to carry our tote bag.

After numerous shushes on the way to the reserves where Mommy’s book is waiting, it’s time to commandeer the children’s section.  They rush to the stairs with renewed vigor, Angela’s voice reverberating through all the levels as we ascend.

They do comment on a few books on display en route to the play area, Julia picking one on various modes of transportation throughout the ages.  Story time must have just ended because there are many little people and their parents hovering about.  Julia and Angela dive into the crowd, playing with the puppet theatre and puzzles; making friends more easily than I.  Julia sits on a low-slung kid couch near another mother and starts a conversation with the Tyrannosaurus she’s operating.  Angela giggles at the parrot another mother has squawking.  I smile and mill about.  These two must already know each other because a few minutes later, I can’t help but overhear one relay the story of her husband’s possible adultery to other.  One father with a preschooler and an infant looks up in surprise when he sees his baby smiling through a gap in a bookshelf, playing peek-a-boo with me – maybe he doesn’t want to draw attention to himself either.  A grandmother plops in a chair after depositing her toddler into the play area, looking worn out.  I want to tell her I feel her pain.

Today, as with nearly every visit here, I’m having flashbacks to when Julia was an infant.  So exhausted as a new mother, yet determined to keep my active two and a half year-old busy, I would strap Julia to the front of me and take Bella to story-time.  I think I was trying a passive-aggressive attempt at keeping some semblance of pre-baby # 2.  I figured if I couldn’t sleep when she slept and lie around all day in my pajamas, I may as well be out and about to distract myself from my misery.  I’m still not sure which was worse: a mom who could hustle around two of them, her harried mania bubbling just below the surface, or a mom drooling in delirium with a stir-crazy kid.  I was so desperate to latch on to something, I rushed the kids to story time without realizing there is an etiquette to such events.  I was lucky enough to attend the first meeting of a new session, at which there would be arts and crafts and for which advanced registration was required.  The most dour-looking librarian of the staff came over to me with her clipboard, pointing to my daughter, and asked, “And who might this be?”  After introductions, she said, “Ok, I’ll add her to the list for next time as she’s not signed up.”  I stammered some statement/question about pre-registration and she assured me it was fine; she had extra materials for the craft.  She had moved on to the next child, who was on her list, before I could thank her.  We went home with our contraband craft and never returned.

I guess I’m not much of a joiner.  One of the things I love about reading is getting lost in one’s own little world, a world that changes from chapter to chapter, book to book.  The solitary, quiet joy of it.  Although, I do love sharing and discussing the juicy details of a book I’ve just finished with someone else.  It has to be someone I know will enjoy it equally though.  Someone who loves a good story for the pure, unadulterated joy of it; the thrill of figuring out a mystery; the ache of a loss as if it were your own.  Not someone who will rebuff me because I wasn’t playing by a set of rules I didn’t even know existed.

I still take my kids to the library.  Though I’d much rather get my books and run, I let them say hello to the fish in the aquarium; put together puzzles that are missing a few pieces; pluck books from the shelf not by their merit, but because they’re at eye-level.  I let them scan the books at the self-check station even though their squeals as they push each other off the stool they’re sharing make me cringe – never mind the other patrons.  I take them to the library because they need to create their own experiences in the world of reading.  I can’t force them to operate under a set of rules made by someone else; they need to be afforded the same opportunities as those kids whose names are on the list.

Plus, it always makes for a really good story.

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2 Comments

  1. I wish all librarians could be more welcoming! But it is so important that you do take your children to the library! Thanks for a good post.

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    • Jennifer Butler Basile

       /  March 8, 2012

      And most are! I was afraid my post might paint librarians in a negative light, but that certainly wasn’t my intent – just my experience with that one on that day. I know many fabulous librarians who most definitely instill a love of reading. Ok, I feel better having given that disclaimer. Thank you for your read!

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