Friday, November 20, 2009

Well, I declare!

Libraries are magical places. My childhood library was monumental. We went to the city's main library, simply because it was the closest, but also because it was amazing. There are some advantages to small-town living, one of which is that the children's librarian still recognizes my mother when they see each other in the grocery store. I've lived away from my childhood hometown for 15 years; but I had such a close relationship with my favorite librarian that she still asks after me.

I still have my library card with my 3rd grade signature. I would have one from even younger, but I had to turn it in. The earlier card was made of paper. In 3rd grade the library system switched to barcoding, and I got a plastic library card. There was a rule in the children's room of the library: each patron could check out four books per visit. I made my selections so carefully, knowing how I'd reread those four books for several weeks before I traded them in for new stories.

We recently began taking the girls for regular visits to our local library, and imagine my surprise and horror that there are no limits on books. I would have been so good with telling E to select four books but the lovely librarian on the first day said, "sweetie, pick as many as you'd like!"

Do NOT give instructions like that to my child, for she will hold those words in her heart as Truth. Please and thank you?

So the girls run around making piles of books on the little kid-sized tables until I finally point out that we can not carry anymore. E finds a series that she is currently enjoying, such as Curious George, and tries to gather one of every Curious George on the shelves. (Do you know how many Curious George books there are? No? Many. Many many many. Could someone please give a name to the man with the yellow hat already?) L finds a book that enchants her and tries to take every copy of that same book off the shelf. She truly wants all four copies of Learn Baby Sign Language. Try to replace one, let alone three, and she'll shriek for all to hear: my babies, my babies! as if her offspring have been kidnapped.

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. There is no physical way to enforce both
1) Pick as many books as you'd like
2) Shh! Quiet voices. We're in a library.

But it's all worthwhile, I remind myself, because I'm providing them The Library Experience. I'm a good mom, see?

E has a new chief joy: books that she reads that are also available as audiobooks. We read the Amelia Bedelia series, which I'm estimating is set in the 1950s, and have discovered that many of the Amelia stories are available on CD, courtesy of our wonderful local library. So we've been listening to Amelia Bedelia bumbling her entire existence (because that's what she does best) as we drive to daycare and work, and as we drive from daycare and work, and as we drive to again the next day. As such, and this might all by iteslf make the impossibility of enforcing both Notions #1 and #2 (above) worthwhile, E has taken to saying, Well, I declare! in a mildly British accent in the midst of her regular preschooler sentence structure.

All of which is just preamble to the facts that we've had some very mild weather, and the girls wanted the windows down for our drive this morning, and it's been a while since they've yelled anything inappropriate at strangers through the window. Well, thank goodness it's Friday, because I was missing that from my life! I braked suddenly as we came upon a stalled car in our lane, right in front of a traffic light that was turning red. In response to my fast stop E commented, I declare! which earned an amused smile from the man with the open window whose car had just stopped on our right. In response to her sister's outburst, L, the lovely little parrot tried to utter the same phrase. Instead, however, in her still-imperfect pronunciation she screamed very clearly with glee, DICK HAIR!

The tight-lipped woman in the stopped car to our left also aimed a facial expression in our direction. However, it emphatically was not a smile. Pin It