We went to the library for the first time today. No really, you guys, THE FIRST TIME. Library Virgins, for reals. I mean, yes, I've been to the library before (just last week, actually, after a... oh, I don't know, a 12-year hiatus?) but I've never taken the kids and I was feeling weird about that. I'm not exactly sure WHY I was feeling weird – I guess maybe because the library seems to be such an integral part of the routine for so many other families we know? Like maybe we're really missing out on something amazing-slash-free? Or maybe just because I'm sending my oldest child to kindergarten next year and I don't want the stinkeye from the kindergarten teacher on back to school night when it is discovered that his first visit to the school library is his first experience with the Dewey Decimal system, like, EVER.
Unfortunately (fortunately?) I am here to tell you that we went to the library, and it was just barely tolerable. BARELY. For starters, apparently we do not have one of those Forward Thinking Libraries, the ones I have heard about with train tables and the puzzles and the soft places to sit and read and/or some other kind of magical child atmosphere. Nope, ours is your basic library, with shelves and books and some tables and chairs and a big ugly mural in the Reading Room of nursery rhymes, none of which my children were remotely familiar with. (“That lady LIVES in that shoe? Why would she live in a SHOE, MOM?” “What's 'blind' mean? How DID those mice not be able to see anymore? What HAPPENED to those mice?” “But cows CAN'T jump over moons; that's pretend, right?”)
This is the problem with nearly EVERYTHING I do – I can't manage to think beyond INITIAL EXPERIENCES. So when prepping my children for the library, I could only think in terms of general behavior – you know, what we'd do as soon as we walked in. We talked extensively about what other people are doing at the library (working, studying, reading), then we had an extensive discussion about what studying is, then I had them repeat our General Rules for Being Out in Public Without a Leash, which are 1) no running, 2) no screaming, 3) no spinning (this is a rule based on past experiences that I never wish to recreate) and 4) no laying down on the floor. Then we talked about inside voices and whispering and just trying as hard as we can to be quiet so no one is disturbed by our presence. (“Mom, what's 'disturbed by our presence'?”)
Here's the thing I conveniently forgot about the library: IT'S NOT BARNES AND NOBLE. The books are all shelved spine out, save for the meager amount on display. And children's books are SKINNY, so there's EYE STRAIN involved in reading the spines. And I tried to appreciate how the kids were trying to be independent and look at what they wanted to look at without involving me but that meant they were pulling what looks like HUNDREDS of books off the shelves in order to see the picture on the front cover and then dumping them on a table which is earning us dirty looks from the librarian who, I am certain, does not look forward to reshelving the random selections of a three-year-old for the rest of the day.
Somehow, you guys, I overlooked that my children CANNOT READ. I mean, yes, Asher can read, LABORIOUSLY, but he is not going to pull a chair up to a shelf and be able to pick out a title that sounds interesting, you know? I know this NOW. I did not think of it THEN, eight hours ago, when we walked into the library and I somehow expected them to... oh, this embarrasses me to even SAY it now, but I expected them to... maybe... BROWSE? Yeah, I don't even know what I could have been thinking.
So that leaves the question of WHAT, exactly, am I doing wrong? Are those of you who are enjoying the library enjoying a PARTICULAR library with cushy perks? Are you taking one child at a time? Are you going by yourself and just bringing your kid home some books you thought they might like? Because I am not going back to the library if I have to wrestle a crappy book away from Lucy every single time. I am TRYING to let her choose what she wants, but she chose a book with an innocent looking penguin on the cover and then when I opened it and READ it, it was like terrible emo penguin poetry and I am NOT going to read terrible emo penguin poetry to Lucy for the next week in the interest of encouraging a love of literacy. I'm not even kidding, the book was written from the mother penguin's perspective and said something like, “And I will be HERE for you, in the FROZEN ARCTIC TUNDRA, protecting you from the ice and cold even though the wind stings my eyes and I am SAD” and I'm sorry, WHAT? New rule for the library: Animal poetry must be FUNNY ANIMAL POETRY.
Anyway, thoughts? On the library? WHAT AM I DOING WRONG HERE?