Screw Literacy

Wanna know something that sounds fun and wholesome and like a great memory-maker for you and your children? Me too. Because I thought that something could be a trip to the library in our good old American wagon last night, but it wasn’t.  It sucked.

Perhaps my motivation was suspect.  Yes, I was hoping to show off when Jeff called from out of town– “Hey, Jeff, we’re doing awesome even though it’s 110 degrees outside.  I am not taking the children to some big box store where they can suck stale air and watch disgusting Americans consume crap they don’t need. Nope.  We’re going to the library. How intrinsically imaginative am I?”

Oh. So. Imaginative.

In my defense, it was very hot, and I really couldn’t take one more trip through the soul-numbing aisles of Target.  It was fun the first three days of the week when we did that, but I needed something more literary and cheaper, because three trips to Target is almost a mortgage payment.

Our .7 mile journey to the library started out serenely enough.  Everyone had water.  Everyone had his own snack pack.  In a burst of Mommy magnanimity, I said “yes” to 7 different items that Sadie asked to bring with her, which effectively resulted in her packing in each of her new birthday presents.  Which explains (1) why the wagon was almost too heavy to pull, and (2) there was barely any room for Simon.

One block from home: Sadie dropped her Dora The Explorer yellow brush in an intersection, but didn’t tell me until we had crossed.  At that exact moment, a rogue cab driver hurtled through the intersection running over her brush.  Ya’ll, that brush is about 4 inches by 2 inches, not exactly an easy target, but there are now tire marks all over it.  (If you actually wanted to hail a cab in my ‘hood, good luck.  Apparently, the only way to make them appear is to drop your child’s treasure in the street.  PRESTO! CABBO!)  Once the inevitable meltdown subsided, Sadie promptly put the brush in her mouth, but I didn’t even try to stop her because at least she shut up for three seconds.

Three blocks from home: Sadie and Simon were bawling because there wasn’t enough room in the wagon.  And that’s how, on a 107-degree day I ended up walking down the street with a stuffed terrier under my arm.  Guess what?  Carrying a dog covered in synthetic fur isn’t a way to cool down on a hot day.

First five minutes in the library: Sadie climbed on the radiator, which lured Greta, the security guard, over to caution me that I have to watch my children more closely.  “Thanks, Greta.”

The next 2 minutes: I picked out a book called, “The Children’s Book of Virtues,” by William Bennett, and started reading to them. To wit:

Hey, kids, look at this cool book about going to bed like civilized little people.

Hey, kids, look at this cool book about going to bed like civilized little people.

During that time: Simon pooped, which I assumed was his way of saying, “suck it, Mom.” (Simon had a point; the book is rather douche-y.)  Guess who decided that bringing a bunch of stuffed animals and doll hair products was more important than a diaper bag? Yep. Me.  Freaking genius move.  Do you know how crap that sits in Simon’s diaper smells after a wagon ride in triple-digit heat? Can you picture it in your mind’s nose? Well, it was about 100 times worse.

Two minutes later: Simon ripped a page out of a book.  I got whiplash looking for Greta to see if she was going to arrest us.

Four minutes later: Sadie and Simon both decided they want to color, so I asked Greta if there were any crayons for the children. She grunted me towards the “reference” desk.  Crayons were procured and the children commenced to color.

1 minute later: I took my first deep breath since this sh*tshow started.

1 minute later: Sadie and Simon were positively engrossed in coloring their dehydrated hearts out.  Sadie looked up at me and said, “Mom, I am busy doing my work. Don’t bother me.”  Hmmm.  “Don’t worry, Kiddo. I am just going to sit here and daydream about how I used to have more than 6 minutes to myself every day.”

DURING THAT THOUGHT: Greta interrupted to tell me we have to leave because the library closed in 5 minutes.

The rest, dear readers, is a blur of confusion, agony, pathos and heat stroke.

But, man, I have learned my lesson. Screw literacy and libraries.

Next time: Target.


26 thoughts on “Screw Literacy

  1. Ha! I have been there! My girlfriend was just asking me what I do with the little ones to beat the excruciating heat in the city. I think she was expecting an array of my favorite museums, library story times and other cultural tidbits. What she got: BABIES R US. At 3 stories it is the largest store we have in the city. An air conditioned haven is priceless, even if it costs me a fortune.

  2. The last time I walked anywhere in this heat at any length was the result of our car breaking down. (Phoenix in summer. Dry heat my ample posterior.) I only take the kids to the park before 9:30 am (if I take them). The rest of the time gymnastics, science center (membership, have to get the money’s worth out of it), and indoor play-lands at the fast food joint are about it (I’ve become immune to the smell of stale hamburgers and stinky feet–my eldest son claims he has not to wit he claims it is probably against the Geneva Conventions but I tell him the Geneva Conventions don’t apply to the war that is parenting). If we do the library I usually reserve the books online then run down to pick them up on a rare solo trip. Exactly because of the Grettas and the rest of the horrors you mentioned. When we picked up the summer reading sheets, as I recall, my youngest ran and hid himself by filing his little body away on one of the empty shelves while my middle two started to play out Battle Royale in the children’s section and my eldest tried his damnedest to avoid looking like we belonged together.

    All that said, ditching the community pool this summer, for the most part, has prevented the annual bout of unnamed-illness-causing-extreme-gastrointestinal-and-respiratory-distress. I’m calling this as a victory for the team. We shall return to the pool when it is less regularly stocked with the ebola virus.


    Feel your pain, though.

    • WEll, I am terrified of water so I am not going near a pool and that was before the ebola highlight. And I am looking into a science museum membership TODAY. I am at two with the great outdoors for the rest of the summer.

  3. Lol. Hilarious post! Tears were welling up at one point….although that may have been my daughter’s teeth imprint on my boob (sucking for a freakin’ hour and she’s one years old next week). Despite the laugh, I do sympathize. I visited Chicago once at the end of May and the heat was so brutal I thought I would die. So, I know the heat and humidity you speak of. I second Babiesrus!

  4. Ah, I relate to your story, but being a former librarian I love the library. My kids will play or read and ignore me for as long as they can. I did stop walking my 3 kids by myself because crap like that always happened. Now i drive, so I can make a quick exit and not be mad that it took us 30 min. to walk a 1/2 mile for a 2 minute visit because mommy wasn’t smart enough to remember the diaper bag.

  5. I used to spend summers with my Dad and Stepmom, who I love dearly but they worked all day. I’d have my Dad drop me off at the library in the morning, and that’s where I’d stay all day. Three stories of books and educational videos. I loved it.

    I’m laughing most about Simon pooping, because I know that’s exactly what my son would do too. Except his would have burst out of the diaper and gone everywhere in the library prompting a mass exodus and the calling of the local Hazmat team. And I totally would have forgotten a diaper bag too.

    So funny!

  6. Christie, I have to apologize for laughing at your pain. In my defense, it was *your* fault for being so damn funny!

    My boys are 15 and 8 so I have different issues now but I *so* remember stuff like that (but of course I have blocked them out of my mind by now since reliving them might affect my mental health).

  7. You ladies are hilarious, and I’m sitting here laughing at work as I read this (it’s OK, I’m on a break – I think). “Sadie promptly put the brush in her mouth, but I didn’t even try to stop her because at least she shut up for three seconds”, that started the laughter for me – thanks! I’ve got 4 sons (2 over 20 and 2 still teens) and we live in Florida, which unbelievably is a lot cooler this summer than most of the places you all seem to be from. I do remember a trip we took with them when they were much younger… for years I had wanted to visit the Alamo – we chose the middle of July, 107 degrees. We came out of those hallowed grounds (said for affect, but believed whole heartedly) with what seemed like mouths full of cotton from the thirst.

    • You went to the Alamo in July? And no one warned you? Harsh. I used to work at a camp in central Texas and we forced the kids to swim because otherwise they would die of dehydration. We never walked them to the library. What was I thinking?

  8. (How did it post my comment without me being finished, lol).

    Well, we came out and went around the corner to find something to drink – and there is a pick-up truck painted like a Mountain Dew can with the bed completely full of ice and ice-cold cans of Mountain Dew. The young guy leaning on the truck said to help ourselves, and we did – probably 3 cans each. Who cared about the sugar content in that moment? Not us – and we thanked God for every ounce of sugary goodness!

  9. Once again, you describe a similar scenario in my own life. Made me exhausted just reading it. Usually when i take the boys to the library, we run through there in about 5 minutes flat, grabbing a few books along the way …

  10. This is so funny, and such a typical day in the world of motherhood. I only have one child, so I really can’t pretend to know just how hectic it can get, but I can certainly relate to this kind of scenario. I always remember to pack absolutely eeeeeverything, EXCEPT the most essential thing, like diapers, or sunblock, or the baby. No, just kidding, I always remember the baby. But I always forget my brain. I haven’t seen it since before the baby was born.

  11. I AM CRYING BECAUSE I AM LAUGHING SO HARD. I honestly think that you are a genius! Thanks for the joy during the day. Sorry you had to pay for it with a S**t Show.

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