Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Library: A Love Story

Every so often, I have the chance to get lost in the library sans children.

Mostly, I have the four of them in tow, the tiny blond one racing over to the fish tank, the loud one exclaiming over a stack of Superman books, the dreamer sneaking up into the pillow-filled kid tower with Anne of Green Gables, the movie lover unloading the shelf of every single DVD that has a picture of Harry Potter on it. There's lots of shushing and sidelong glances from grumpy librarians. If I don't have exactly what I need, call numbers and titles and whatnot scribbled with a tiny pencil on a little square of paper, I can forget about getting out of there with anything for myself. Even when totally prepared, I often abandon my quest for the book I longed to have on my nightstand, too defeated by the sighs of an army of old people to dare enter the adult section with my four crazy kids trailing behind me.

But every so often, I have the chance to get lost in the library sans children. Today was one of those days. I wandered through the biographies, the fiction, the "Hot New Books." I picked one, found another one, put the first one back, pondered. I drifted through the Children's department, marveling over the selection of audio CDs and ballerina books and brightly colored hardbacks with puppets attached. I had the time to think about what we'd be learning in history and science, and then find the perfect compliments to our lessons on the states of matter and the French Revolution. Interesting, fun books for my normal, non-genius children.

I took up a vast armful and deposited it on the counter, probably three hundred dollars worth of books if I'd bought them on Amazon. I paid the ever-present fine with a smile; the three bucks would go to good use.

I brought them home and the kids ran to greet me, and I've got a surprise for you, I sang. What is it, what is it, what is it? they chirped, and I gleefully handed them out. The dinosaur book with the puppets for the tiny blond one, the history of ballet for the dreamer, Robinhood for the loud one, and a version of The Wizard of Oz performed by none other than the Muppets for my movie lover.

Presents! yelled the loud one. Presents! he yelled again and did a little shimmy. Then they were gone, three weeks worth of treasures tucked under their arms, their little minds flashing with the ideas of new things.

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."
Jorge Luis Borges

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