Monday, November 15, 2010

Borrowing from the Library...and Life

My middle son Lefty loves the library. When he was a little guy, we'd take his big sister to school and then spend hours in the library. They'd have a reading day and a character day and it just became part of his life. One of his first words was book. It may have had something to do with his big head. It may also have to do with the fact that it was the one place we went where he could say "Can I have this one?" and hold up dozens of different books and I'd just keep saying yes and yes and sure and uh-huh and he was probably thinking this is the best store in the history of ever because Mommy lets us have everything.

When he was four or so, we were "checking out" at the counter and he noticed for the first time that I didn't actually pay for anything. By then he was well versed in money and Mommy's Credit Card. The blue one with all the numbers. He'd take it out of my wallet and then I'd be at the grocery store and when it came time to pay I'd open my wallet and see that lovely vacant spot where Blue Card was supposed to be.

He hid it in his tightie-whities. He always hid it in his tightie-whities.

Interestingly, no check out person has ever been thrilled about me paying with that card once I got it back. I'm pretty sure that's why the little grocery store by my house suddenly got the self-run-through credit card machine.

For the record, he also hid cash, candy and my cell phone in there. Which I discovered when his bum started playing "A Little Less Conversation" -- I got a new phone.

Anyhow.

So we're leaving with the books and I have no wallet and no Blue Card and no cash and he immediately tells the woman at the counter that mommy didn't bring money and she's about to steal the books. And does it in this way that sort of inferred that it was a regular thing for me, like he had to say it daily to the people at the grocery store, Target and the dry cleaners. It probably didn't help that I was all objecty. "I'm not stealing. I would never steal. I'm not even sure where he gets these ideas. haha. Ummm, we'll just take these books and quickly leave. But not leave like too fast like we're guilty. Just mosey out. God, did I just say mosey?"

Luckily for me, she kindly explained to my son that, at the library, you just get to borrow books and you don't have to pay. You just have to take really good care of them, love them with your whole heart, and then just promise to give them back so other people get to love them too.

He was flabbergasted. Stunned. And, suddenly, very very loud. The *one* rule in the library that he decides to break.

"YOU MEAN WE JUST GET TO TAKE ANY BOOK WE WANT AND ALL WE HAVE TO DO IS PROMISE TO BRING IT BACK??!?!?!?!!" [mouth agape in joy] "THIS IS THE BEST THING IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD!!!!"

After that, we'd go in and he was like a crack addict. Forget staying in the kids section. There was a whole library of free stuff at his disposal. We checked out magazines, car books, documentaries, encyclopedias...

[Editor's Note: You think I kid? Uhh, nope. He picked B -- did you know the Berserkers were these hired mercenaries that went into battle naked? They did. They thought it would freak out their enemies. Umm, yeah. Bunch of naked guys with spears running at me? I'm pretty sure I'd give up too. He still talks about it. Mostly because I think he thinks he can become a Berserker someday. It's like sanctioned nudity. -Kate]

...and any book that was especially huge just because who doesn't want to look at a map of Pangaea that requires you to lay it out on your driveway?

We went last week when there was no school. The kids scattered immediately when we arrived. And I suddenly stood there in the entrance and read the signs. And saw my life...

My daughter was in the drama section. She's eleven and full of drama and hormones and boys and shutting her door and playing music too loud and irritated at me for giving her faulty DNA because she doesn't have big enough boobs yet. I wandered down the rows to see all the stories of teenage angst and Bella and Edward and Jacob and Harry Potter and shouldn't he just tell Ginny that he loves her already and Margaret still wondering if God is there and wow I can't believe they still read that book. I read that book.

My son was in the adventure section...Percy Jackson and the Hardy Boys and Ben 10 and all those kids who live lives that are way scarier than his and wow he's super happy he takes karate just in case he finds out he's really the son of SpiderMan or something.

The little one was in the kid's section with all the tiny tables and the little shelves and parents need to walk on their knees there...and there's even these chairs that are like big squishy library chairs except they're super tiny. With tiny ottomans...

And I stood there and looked at the New Arrivals section. It's like the baby nursery in the hospital. We walk super slow through that section and see all the new faces...wonder what they're about...they still have that smell of brand new-ness. And they're so wonderful and you can't wait to hold it, even though you know you're going to be up all night and be useless the next day.

I wandered toward the back to the Reference and Classics...it's a totally different smell. The old pages that are worn and full of knowledge and they creak a little when you open them, but they still tell the best stories if you're just patient enough to go slowly. I ran my hands along them, their authors long gone, yet their voices remain.

When I came back to find the kids, they were all holding their collection of treasures. Full of drama and adventure and discovery and tales of growing up and learning about the world.

I didn't know until that moment how fast it all goes by. I wished we could go back to the New Arrivals.

I stood at the checkout counter quietly watching them check out their books. My son looked over at me and said, "How long do we get to have them?" I told him two weeks and he sighed, "oh, it never seems like long enough, does it?"

No, baby. It doesn't. I knew when I first showed up at New Arrivals, I'd only get to borrow you for eighteen years. I just had to promise to take really good care of you. And love you with my whole heart. And then just promise to give you back to the world so other people can love you too.

And you're right son. It IS the best thing in the whole wide world.

Thank you for letting me have this great honor of being your mom....

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

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