Thursday, August 1, 2013


Yesterday I took all three of my kids to the library.

In an attempt to organize the week (and to preserve my sanity for the remainder of the summer) I've instituted a new summer afternoon schedule so that I have at least a semblance of a plan for the dreaded 4pm - 7pm hours.

On Mondays we go to the park!

On Wednesdays we go to the playground!

On Thursdays we do water guns in the backyard!

On Fridays Daddy comes home and throws the kids around until bedtime!

On Tuesday afternoons we do a library outing. I stretch it over as much time as possible. First all four of us gather after nap time to talk about what subjects we most want to find books about. Then we walk up to the library en masse to search out books on those topics. Finally we come home and sit together reading for the next hour or so.

That sound you hear? Is the thunderous sound of  ME PATTING MYSELF ON THE BACK FOR THIS AWESOME BIT OF PARENTING!!!

Yeah, except in reality it never quite happens quite as plan. This beloved academically-minded outing, in particular, has a tendency to go SPECTACULARLY off the rails.

It has gotten so bad that I fear my kids are in danger of becoming known far and wide as "THE TERRORS OF THE LIBRARY".

And it's not for lack of trying on my part. I swear to you that before each and every library outing I give my offspring a stern talking-to about my expectations of "proper library behavior". 

On the list of things that fall into the category of "proper library behavior":
  • No screaming
  • No running
  • No taking books off the shelf without supervision
  • No dancing of any kind
  • No shouting the lyrics of songs from the 'Cars' soundtrack at the top of your lungs
  • No removing articles of clothing for any reason
  • No hitting of siblings with library materials
  • No attempting to verbally engage fellow library patrons ON ANY SUBJECT
  • If I hear a ripping sound you are going to time-out FOREVER!!

I try, people, I'm telling you I try.

The kids usually start off pretty well. The library has a fairly small "kids area" consisting of a VERY HUNGRY CATERPILLAR rug, two puzzles, and about a half a dozen nicely-sized rows of books.  The area is really just one section of the one-room library, so there is no separation from the rest of the place where people are engaged in their reading and/or general quiet-necessitating library activities. Which means the pressure to maintain complete silence from my three children under five is FAIRLY INTENSE.

The feeling is compounded by a librarian straight from Central Casting who walks around shushing anyone who makes a peep (this does, from personal experience, include 17-month-olds vocally delighted at the sight of the aforementioned caterpillar rug).

So it is that our library experience -- which I always envision as a contemplative stroll through the library shelves in search of tomes that will satiate my children's nascent curiosity about the universe -- instead becomes a mad dash through the stacks before I actually melt from the hot burning shame of inflicting my children on my fellow patrons.

FOUR-YEAR-OLD: Mom! I wanted a book on cars!
ME: Listen, here's something with Curious George on the cover, you'll like that.
FOUR-YEAR-OLD: Curious George is for babies!
ME: Pleeeeaaase stop yelling. That librarian lady is going to kill me. Where is your brother?

(Brief glimpse of three-year-old laughingly disappearing behind library shelves)

ME: Don't touch anything! I've got to go get him. Has anyone seen a baby around here?

So it goes until I manage to grab a half-dozen or so books, check out, and wrangle the children back out to the street. 

I wrench the children home amidst cries of,

"I wanted to stay at the LIIIIBBBRARY!!!!!"

I can happily attest that the kids are really enjoying the great array of books cycling through the house, but these library afternoons? They're a bear.

I may start sneaking off by myself to choose books on nights when my husband's home and skipped "Library Afternoon" altogether.

Tuesday night could always be, "Let's hit the drive-thru and watch a movie night"...


  1. We have not been to the library since last October. I can't take it. Not to mention we tried Storytime and I was freaked out by the moms that knew all the songs, plus the special hand jive, PLUS they had their kids dressed up. I was people are not my people.

  2. Take them anyway and ignore the mean librarian. Just keep doing your best to teach them 'library manners'. Try to make a game out of it or teach them a song for it. This is the way we borrow a book, quietly, quietly, this is the way we read our books, early at the library... and maybe drink a margarita before you go. <3

  3. So I have to say, I have had the same plan, except I haven't instituted it. But in my past experiences with good parenting via the library, let me tellya what happened. See, the library near our house is also near North Hollywood Park. So I witnessed a drug deal, saw a bunch of destitute people waiting outside the library to use the computers to find jobs, and then discovered the library was closed. Undaunted (and perhaps I should have been daunted), I came back! We strolled past all the full computer stations--full of destitute people looking for jobs but also getting a break from the elements--got our books, but then Zack had to poop, so we spent a whole bunch of time in the library bathroom, fending off homeless crack addicts coming into the library bathroom to...I don't want to know what. Wash things? Inject stuff? No idea. I'll try the Studio City branch next.

  4. Time to find a new library. The one that we go to has a whole floor devoted to the kids section, behind some kind of fancy sound proof glass, plus tons of toys, puppets, puzzles, fish, kid-friendly computers... It's mayhem but the kids love it.

  5. The woman who runs story time at our library has zero tolerance for babies who crawl outside of the circle formation. None. She'd stop mid-story to wait for the mothers to pull the kids back. I went once.

  6. One time, my then 3 year old pulled out all the names in the books on hold section! They had all the hold books with book marks, with names of the person the book was being held for, sticking out. Lightning fast he grabbed about 50 of them.... I was HORRIFIED! So was the librarian... She looked like she was going to cry. We never go to the library any more (he is 12 now) but I am not over the horror of it.