Adventures in the Library

I took a sick day yesterday to be with Miss Camille, who has the worst case of diaper rash in recorded history. She needed to be at home with me so I could take care of her, but since she’s not contagious, we got to spend some time out of the house, exploring.
I decided it was time for her first trip to the library. I have very fond memories of the library. I remember pouring through books as a child, mastering those summer library reading programs. I love the sound of the plastic protective wrappers, crinkling when you open a library book – I don’t know why, I guess it just evokes good feelings.
We sat down in front of a long shelf of children’s books. I thumbed through a few, looking for something Camille might enjoy, while she busied herself pulling mountains of books off the shelf and into her lap.
A particular title caught my eye. “Mommy and Me By Ourselves Again,” by Judith Vigna. Curious, I pulled it down and flipped through it. The story is about a little girl who is sad because her mommy just broke up with boyfriend Gary. It’s the girl’s birthday, and she hopes Gary will call. Didn’t Gary love her too? Was it all her fault that they broke up? She had hoped Gary would live with them like Daddy did before the divorce.
I don’t know why I was surprised to find such a book. A look inside also revealed the titles of some of her other books. “She’s Not My Real Mother.” “Saying Goodbye to Daddy.” “I Wish Daddy Didn’t Drink So Much.” “My Big Sister Takes Drugs.” “Daddy’s New Baby.”
These books were really sad. They didn’t have fairytale endings. The first book I looked at, the one about boyfriend Gary – he didn’t call. He didn’t care. The book ends with the little girl having to learn that not everyone keeps their promises, but that she can still count on her mom and grandparents.
But these books are sad because so many children can identify. They reminded me how lucky I was that they weren’t on my list of summer must-reads when I was a child.
Camille and I picked a few more upbeat selections like, “Where Does the Brown Bear Go?” and my favorite, “Mouse Mess.” I used the self-checkout machine, and while I was scanning our books, the machine was pelted by a paper ball. I ignored it. Until it began to rain paper balls.
There was a balcony above me, and several young girls were peering over the edge, watching me juggle Camille and four books, and tossing paper balls at me. I couldn’t decide if I was angry or sad. Probably both. I was angry that they had such little respect for the library and for me. But I was sad because they’d probably just been dumped at the library by someone who was too busy to supervise them. Too busy to care. I’m sure I was feeling extra sensitive after reading through some of those Judith Vigna books, but I just felt sorry for them.
In my bossiest, grown up voice, I told them to please not throw paper. I told them it wasn’t nice to litter in the library. They giggled.
So, our first visit to the library was a little bit of a downer. But I’m sure we’ll be back often, and I hope we’ll create some better memories.