I grew up in my local library. I love to read. I’d happily spend each day sitting in a comfy chair and reading and consider it modeling the love by reading at home;)
I have three kids. The oldest is twelve and would rather play video games than do anything else. Heaven forbid clean his room or the dishes–that’s revolting. However, when I asked if he wanted to visit the library with me he jumped on this opportunity. And now that I’ve allowed him the freedom to bike to the library by himself, the kid hauls a backpack full of Legend of Zelda books or whatever else I don’t think I’d willingly pick up. But he reads them. And I smile. The library is a great place to go run off to. And any reading is better than none in my opinion.
The week my middle daughter was at camp my son and I took the three-year old to the library. She learned quickly that we use quiet voices there (man! Can I pretend home is the library? I love this quiet voice!) and we don’t run. She walked upstairs with us to the teen section to get one more book my oldest wanted. Then she started tossing books my way. Again, I will read almost anything someone gives me. Now, I just happened to get into some of those books she tossed my way. And it was a series, so of course I had to get the next books. As soon as I could! Which meant I had to bring both my girls back to the library.
While my twelve-year-old may love it and my three-year old jumped right in (she’s my creative girl–someone has to take after mom!) my eight year old is more challenging there.
She has Down Syndrome. She’s been gaining more language (especially this summer!) and on a good day she’s easy to bring places. On hard days she is not. The problem is with a special needs child you have no idea what you will get. I might have the quiet walk somewhere. But I might get plant herself on the ground and yell “noooooooo!” at the top of her lungs. And she’s now a solid sixty-four pounds. It’s not so easy picking her up and leaving at those moments.
Now teaching my daughter social etiquette has been challenging throughout the years. It’s partially limited vocabulary, but more the fact that she prefers to do what she wants. She knows there is a giant aquarium at the library. She has no use for the thousands of books, because we have the Biscuit the dog books she likes at home.
The instant we walked into the children’s section of the library she started to trot (she has a new run when she’s excited–she half skips, half runs with her arms swinging back and forth. It reminds me of a young foal kicking his legs, so it’s a trot). The library was still a bit quiet as it had just opened.
The librarian was busy peering through her spectacles at the computer screen, but had no problem saying “no running!” towards us. Dutifully I sat on the bench in front of the fish and reminded her we need to walk inside. We only run on the playground. (Small yard – too close to the street – not safe to run much there). She looked at me and squealed “fish!” Again, the librarian “quiet, please!” This time I didn’t correct. Seriously, does the children’s section of the library need to be a sanctuary?
My three-year old had been coloring an A is for Airplane picture and was so excited to show me that she forgot the running rule and ran to show me, yelling “mom! look!” Before the librarian could say I quietly reminded her of our library manners. She stage whispered “sorry!” as her sister decided to get down and cruise over to another section of the library. Of course, that meant she was excited. And trotted.
So Librarian Von Shush told us “no running!” again. And I was tired. I had spent the weekend alone with my daughters and trying to clean the house. So I hauled them both by the hands and said “we are done.” There weren’t protests. They walked out each holding my hand.
But I’m sad at myself. My eight year old was excited to be there. She wasn’t screaming. She wasn’t planting herself down and having a tantrum. Yet, I let someone else determine what was acceptable behavior. When she WAS behaving. And how else can I instill this amazing love of books to her if she’s not granted the privilege of exploring the library on her own terms?
So I’m planning on taking them back to the library. And letting her say “fish!” because she’s talking. Librarian Von Shush can go sit in the reference section of the library instead of the children’s section. Children do not learn quietly. And my daughter can watch fish. Perhaps this time she’ll want to pick up a new book. I could try one about fish?