well, there’s nothing i like better than to write a really gruelingly real piece about parenting after I’ve spent too long in lala facebook land, seeing people portray their lives as perfect to really bring it all back home and keep it real.
I love the library. but the library does not love kids. kids love the library. but, for the life of ruth, she can’t BE QUIET for more than a couple words in a row. and, for the life of joel, he can’t stop being a baby. not even for a little while when we are at the library. I think that’s pretty selfish, don’t you? I mean, it’s not too much to ask for him to stop being a baby and be instead a seven year old just for like…an hour, right?
I think you can see where this is headed. when we just had ruth, the library was a great option. there were two of us, one of her, and one of us could run off and browse books and movies while the other stayed with her in the kids section and then switch off. no more. I hope to make it a place where I can take both kids on weekdays by myself (don’t remind me that I have another on the way. I’m not even going there mentally yet), so sometimes, I try and go. as long as joel has pretty much just woken up from either sleeping at night or a nap, his mood is usually pretty happy and pliable.
ruth picks out her own movies (god help us all, she usually finds the ones that stand out because their covers are sparkly and pink) and then I pick out their books. how I do this is to quickly browse the easy to reach shelves while the kids and running in and out of the play house they have there for them. I can usually browse with one eye (so I’m not taking home a great big pile of garbage books. believe me, some kids books are simply terrible) and watch them with the other. the rest of the time is usually spent with just ruth or both kids on the computer, doing the little kid games. as far as I am concerned, I never make it over to the adult movies, magazines, music or book section. my stroller is loaded down, but I personally leave empty-handed.
but, usually, when it’s just me, I find that I barely make it in and out of there with my sanity intact. first, everyone has to make it into the building alive, and ruth and joel get all excited and start running ahead of me as I struggle with pushing the stroller through slush in the parking lot. then, the question of who will push the button on the elevator arises. ruth usually jumps to it, eliciting the first screams from joel. I’m fumbling at this point, one step behind, still never anticipating the problems that the library entails. I think I will get better at this with practice. then they both have to push the button on the inside to take us to the right floor. once we are out, we need to deposit our old books, and each kid starts yelling that “I want to do it!” (well, ruth says that. joel just yells, “me!”). how are these whiny chants so universal to kids? is there some “being a kid” handbook they are mailed by some kid organization?
after admonishing them both to be quiet and giving them each a turn to toss the books into the return bin, and after they’ve piled up their coats and hats and sweaters on me, they take off to the kids section, at something barely less than a run. raised eyebrows abound. I can almost feel the collective sigh as we enter, breaking up the beautiful peace of the patrons reading in silence. once we are in the kids section, though we are in the section supposedly allotted for kids, they are still barely kosher. joel is always a tear stuff off the shelf at random risk and ruth isn’t much better, trying to bark commands at him every two seconds, provoking screams of outrage. and when she sits at the computer, though she’s nearly five, she still really has no idea what she’s doing so she gets easily frustrated and starts yelling at me for help while I try and keep track of where in the hell joel has run off to, in between shelves.
this is when my blood pressure skyrockets and i wonder: what the hell am I doing here? what was I thinking? and: why does it seem like I have the loudest, least socially acceptable kids in the world? this is when I turn into mean mommy and start using all kinds of sarcasm and people wonder what the hell my problem is, why can’t I get off my kids backs? they’re just kids, after all (I hope the irony of this is not lost on you. when you are nice and let your kids run a bit rampant, people disapprove. when you are mean and ruthless, people disapprove. there is just no way to get public approval when you are a parent). and I agree with them, then I start feeling bad, like “why can’t I be a chill mom?” (you can see how being a parent is a merciless barrage of self-examination at every turn). this is when I usually try and leave as fast as possible, which isn’t very fast considering I have to get the kids over to the check out counter, load all the books up there, hear about my latest fine with a disapproving look from the librarian, try to keep joel from wandering, yet again, then I can finally leave.
by the time we’re done, I could really go for a double shot of something strong. my nerves are humming like a plucked cord. I usually settle for mcdonald’s ice cream, being pregnant and all these days. does this mean i’ll never go back? hell, no. I’m that desperate to get out in the winter that I will willingly put myself through that scenario again and again. hopefully, eventually, the kids will get better at following the library rules and norms. in the meantime, keep that ice cream flowing. better make it a large.