Mommy Misadventures: The Library

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Hold on tight, friends.  This one’s a doozy.

Every few months someone brings up the idea that with ebooks becoming more popular, libraries are quickly on their way to becoming obsolete.  Publishers will stop printing books.  The literary world as we know it will end.  What these futurists forget is that libraries are the center of our culture.  Librarians are far from old ladies sitting quaintly behind desks.  As Michael Moore once said about us librarians, “they’re, like, plotting the revolution, man.”  Libraries will always exist, in some form, because they are hub of our society– communities in and of themselves offering respite for the old and the young, the tired and the energized, not to mention a safe place for weary moms and their kids to gather and enjoy.

Of course, none of that was on my mind when we visited the library a few weeks ago.  What was on my mind was the book I’d reserved has finally arrived, so I packed Bee and Noodle into the car and visited our own “happiest place on Earth”– the local library {with a playground next door– bonus!}

reading books starts early in this house

This was the first time I’d gone in without first strapping Bee into a stroller.  In fact, in previous trips Bee was always sleeping when we went to the library so our visits were idyllic and serene.  I’ll admit my first misstep on this particular trip was breaking Commandment #1 of traveling with two little ones at the same time: “Thou shalt complete the major purpose of your errand first, do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars, proceed directly to the initial reason for the trip and THEN hang out.”  My fate was sealed the moment I decided to pick out books with Noodle instead of first checking out my reserved book.

As I set Bee down on the rug to look at the new picture books, he found the toy bus in the children’s section.  Grabbing it and clutching it to his chest, he ran directly towards the quiet adult side of the library, gleefully squealing in delight as his new toy.  Noodle had a look of shock on her face as I raced to catch Bee before he disappeared into the other side of the library.

Cornered by the computers, I picked up Bee and the bus and started taking him back to the children’s area.  “NoooooooooooOOOOooooooOOOOOoooooo!” he screamed.  All heads turned toward me, and like a deer in headlights, I was stuck in place.  There was Noodle, clear across the library, and Bee, turning like a rotisserie chicken in my arms until I put him down.  This scene was repeated several times until I “got smart.”  That’s when I made mistake #2.

I wanted my reserved book, no, NEEDED my reserved book to FEED my SOUL!  After a series of ridiculous attempts to corral both Bee and Noodle, grab my book from the reserve cart, and head toward the circulation desk we were finally there.  In line.  With two squirming toddlers.  Whose only objective was to follow the colorful promotional footprints taped to the floor that led OUT THE DOOR.

Phew, after a dicey minute of chasing after each one as they tromped on the footprints and bringing them back we were finally second in line.  Almost there.  Which is when I met clueless lady from hell {yes, folks, I just used that word.  So sorry}.  I’ll admit to being an airhead most of the time, and clueless during those moments I’m not being an airhead, but for the love of God if I had a mother with two Houdini toddlers crying in line behind me the last thing I’d do is this:

“I can’t find my library card.  Hold on, let me search for it…”

Bee makes a break for the door.

“Found it!  Could you also check on the status of a book I have on hold?”

Noodle starts grabbing books off the cart in front of us.

“Oh, a fine?  I’ll pay it now.  $1.23?  Let me get that for you.”  (jingle jingle) “Here’s a dollar in quarters… I must have two dimes somewhere… here’s one dime, and a nickle.  Ah, pennies.  Okay, one two three four pennies– oh!  another nickle!”

Both kids run in opposite directions.

And then, I kid you not, after paying the fine and checking out the books she hands the librarian a list and says, “can you help me find these books?”

I wish I were lying to you.  Truly, it’s my biggest desire to be exaggerating this story.  Sadly, I am not.  At this point both kids are in my arms and wiggling and kicking and freaking out.  Why didn’t I just leave?  Did I mention my soul needed this book— it was Cutting for Stone, for goodness sake!– if just for the fact I needed to win this round of Toddlers vs. Mommy?

Back from finding the list of books, the woman needed to AGAIN check out.  When she said, “ack, I can’t find my library card again!” I actually exclaimed– under my breath, but still– “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!”

She stopped mid-grope, realized there was actually someone behind her in line, and after a brutally long minute managed to locate her card as my kids were, at this point, playing “Who Can Make The Loudest Scream?”  To pacify the kids, I’d come up with a genius plan.  Ignoring all signage (and internal warnings) stating food was not allowed, I started feeding them goldfish crackers.

Last year at Noodle’s goldfish themed birthday party

Finally.  They were silent.  They were still.  The woman in front of me was almost done.  Goldfish to the rescue!  Until I heard Noodle’s signature sound.


Oh, no.

“Gag, gag, cough.”

Oh please, dear god, please please please…

“huack!”  As the gagged-on goldfish and that morning’s breakfast started to come up from my little reflux baby Noodle, all eyes once again were on me.  Parents shielded their children.  The people behind us quickly scattered.  And Noodle did what she does best– gagged and, um, “refluxed” directly into my Vera Bradley tote bag.

It was all over, folks.  Or should have been.  They were finally and inexplicably ready to check out my book.  I had my card in my hand, a $5 bill in case there were fines, and a Noodle giddily explaining to everyone in earshot: I frew up, Mommy!  I frew up!”

Yes, my dear, you did.

I, and my Vera Bradley tote, will never forget this one.

Despite this traumatic event, I’m happy to say we’ve since gone back.  Sure, Bee continues to run in every direction but I’m ready for him.  This time, though, I head first to the reserve cart and check out my books.  And, leave the Goldfish crackers at home.

check out Bee’s onesie from last year.  That’s right– goldfish.


It’s amazing what doesn’t embarrass me anymore.  The old me would have rated this a 10 out of 10 on the Embarrassment Scale.  The “new” me, the “I have kids now” me, says it’s about a 2.  And that, my friends, is the truth.  Another truth?  You can burn them, puke in them, vilify them, technologize (?) them, but libraries are here to stay.  Just please, for the love of our future as a society, don’t stop funding them!

This post was inspired by From Left to Write‘s monthly selection, Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (which I received for review).  You can read more posts inspired by the book here.  I’m sure you’re wondering– “Carrie, you’ve lost it.  What does Cleopatra have to do with libraries?”  Well, the Library at Alexandria was often mentioned in this sweeping biography, and it reminded me that libraries are not something new– they have been cornerstones of the community, gathering places for information, and pillars of civilization for thousands of years.  Even before, and perhaps in spite of, the invention of Goldfish crackers.  😉
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