The last few weeks, Hubby and I have been taking Goober to the local library on Tuesday nights. Why Tuesday? I don’t know. Because Mondays are the nights we pick Goober up from my dad’s house and we always stay and eat dinner, and Wednesdays are Magic House nights, where Goober can run and scream and throw things without getting in trouble for FREE. We needed something to do on a Tuesday, it was air conditioned, and we check out movies there, which are due in 7 days, which means, Hey! We gotta go back by Tuesday! So Tuesdays it is.
When I think about libraries, I think about the dank, smelly library built in the basement of a civic building in the tiny suburb where I grew up. I think about my elementary school library room with my teacher following us around making shooshing noises. I think about my university library, where the chairs were designed so that the minute you sat down with your Bio 101 text, you immediately passed out. I think it was a covert operation to force a fifth year of tuition out of us. Nowhere in the depths of my memory, however, do I associate a library to a sweaty, full cardio workout.
First a little back story: I am a reader. My husband is not. If you were to look at side-by-side photo albums of our childhood, you’d see the following.
Merrsidote’s Album: Grandma reading to Infant Merrsidotes, Toddler Merrsidotes flipping through a picture book, Preschool Merrsidotes sitting in a chair in the middle of the yard in winter reading some Dr. Suess, 2nd Grade Merrsidotes reading in her room, 5th Grade Merrsidotes reading some Danielle Steel swiped from step-mom’s nightstand, High School Merrsidotes at the homecoming game with a book in her bag, College Merrsidotes plowing through three Harry Potter books during final’s week.
Hubby’s Album: Baby Hubby holding a ball, Toddler Hubby kicking a ball, Preschool Hubby kicking a ball, 2nd Grade Hubby kicking a ball… you get the idea.
So you can imagine, as a reader, I have always wanted Goober to become a reader. Books were my favorite shower and baby gifts. I started reading to Goober as soon as he was born (I tried the whole reading to my belly thing, but it felt weird) and we have always had lots of books available. He’s sort of kind of interested in looking at a page or two, he points out the pictures, but he won’t hang out long enough for me to read a whole book. This makes a reader like me very sad. (I know I’m not supposed to wish him to be like other kids, but I REALLY want him to want to sit with books! Like this! Meredith, tell me your secret!) So when Hubby suggested we start taking Goober to the library, I was SO ON BOARD.
When I walk into a library, I see possibilities. I see brand new novels and favorite old stories. I see an afternoon spent in silence, delving into a world far away from my own.
When Goober walks into a library, he sees a playground. There are shelves to climb and books to pull down. There are racks to spin, tables to stand on, computers to click, and stuffed animals to throw oneself onto. THERE IS A LOT OF QUIET TO BREAK WITH SOME GO OLD FASHIONED YELLING!!!! Over all, it’s a cool place to be a toddler. To the toddler. To the parent of the toddler, it’s a way to burn a couple hundred calories. It’s not an experience for the meek. If you plan on trying to take your own rambunctious toddler to the library, here are some tips of the trade:
Do not go alone. I repeat, DO NOT GO ALONE. If you have any plans on taking anything out of that library, you’re going to need a partner. This is a group workout.
Bring the right equipment. Baby wrangling is a tough business, a shoulder bag is only going to get in your way. I like to take our bookbag diaper bag. Strap that puppy on BOTH shoulders. This will minimize the likelihood of you smacking some 4th grader in the face with it as you weave through the stacks.
Dress appropriately. This is no time for a skirt and heels, even if your husband has a thing for Naughty Librarian. 20 minutes in, you’ll be sweating like a pig and your shoes will be in the backpack. Save yourself the hassle.
Interval training. You want to look for some books for yourself, great. Your
53 minutes starts now. Get in, grab the books, get out. Tag your partner and get back on baby duty so he can have his 3 minutes to pick some DVDs. Repeat as necessary.
Keep your eye on the ball. It’s easy to get distracted by your surroundings. But if you’re on baby duty, maintain focus! One quick skim through the board book section and you’ll be dealing with 15 shredded magazines and some pissed off librarians.
Know when to stop. If they’re kicking you out, you’ve waited too long.
That about sums it up. Well, one last thing.
7. Do it all again next week!
No, I’m not insane. Not any more than any other parent at least. However, I’m convinced that the only way for Goober to learn how to behave at the library is to continue to go to the library. Kids are experiential learners: they learn by doing, in my opinion. Whether or not this is true remains to be seen. I’m hoping that consecutive visits will show some decline in his feral tendencies. I’m still determined to make this kid a Reader. If that means being ushered out of the library on a weekly basis, so be it!