One for the books: A visit to the library

Parenting and life

At the time of writing, the big one is sick, and has been feeling sorry for herself quietly on the sofa for two days now. Two loooooong days*.

I’ve just realised that this change to our routine has meant that the library books are overdue, and I can’t find our online pin number.

I’ve just checked and the library isn’t open for another three days – I thank the Tories for that.

I wonder what the going rate for an overdue library book is nowadays? It used to be a few pence a day, but I bet it’s gone up in the last 25 years. I am now wondering whether I have to remortgage my house again to pay the fine.**

As a kid, I loved going to the library.

I still love books; the way they look, feel, smell… The whole Kindle-thing just doesn’t work for me I’m afraid. You can’t dry a Kindle out on the radiator after you drop it in the bath.

Before kids, I was an avid reader. Although I rarely have time to read these days, I always envisaged the library to be a place I’d take my kids.

I imagined myself reading stories to my baby, who would be sat in wonder digesting every word. Turns out babies just want to eat books just the same as everything else, and once they’re out of that stage, reading out loud – particularly the same kids’ book you’ve read every night for the past seven weeks, even if you absolutely loved it to start with (I’m looking at you A Squash and a Squeeze), gets pretty boring.

A visit to the library

Pssst, it’s upside down

Library trip about 6 months ago

Tasty book – circa 6 months ago

To my credit, when the big one was a baby, I tried to make going to the library a thing.

We went along to Rhyme Time held at the main library in town, but she puked so much I had to change her six times in an hour and that took the shine off it a bit.

A few years down the line, and I thought maybe we should start going; I’d kind of like them to still exist when I actually have the time to read, so we joined the small local library which is a ten minute walk away.

Or should be.

Anyone who has ever been anywhere with a toddler knows that ‘a ten minute walk away’ can mean anything from ten minutes to several hours. Here are some pictures I took of my smaller child during a walk to the park; it should be five minutes.

Toddler touching ALL THE THINGS on the way to the park

I am toddler. I touch ALL THE THINGS.

Upon entering the library, I return the books which are hopefully intact and not too badly chewed. I can see the Librarian’s face fall, knowing the horror about to befall him; two small book crazed fiends, shattering his peace and threatening to eat into his lunch break.

When we arrive, the library is usually empty. I’ve recently realised that this is probably because the time we used to go – straight after pre-school – was about twenty minutes before it was due to close, but no one ever mentioned this to us.

Toddler reading a good book in the library

Both toddlers sit down and remove their coats and, for some reason these days, their shoes. Taking off shoes in public buildings is not something I have encouraged. They even did it in Oxfam books the other day, the small one even tried to remove his trousers which really isn’t the right thing to be doing in a bookshop.

Meanwhile, I find a seat and sit down. 

I might take a nice photo of them… and then spend the next fifteen minutes checking Instagram whilst they amuse themselves. They’re surprisingly good at it; if as noisy and messy as you would expect. I ‘shhhh’ them for effect (they take no notice) and it is of course imperative that all the books come out of the box and are placed upon the floor to be ‘read’, one by one.

Toddler in the library reading oi frog

After about 15 minutes I think we’ve probably outstayed our welcome (not to mention pushed our luck as there are no toilets there) and ask the Whingelets to select their books to take home.

This can take some time and requires guidance as they are without exception books that a) are entirely unsuitable or b) we’ve read before.

One week, I let the big one choose her own books and didn’t even flick through. One was about an exploding teddy bear. She cried and had a nightmare about that one.

Then we (I) tidy up, check out our books, and books in hand, we set off on the adventure home.

A few minutes in, the big one inevitably announces she’s tired, at which point she stops walking, usually along the main road. The small one is squawking ‘Walk, walk!’ from his buggy.Toddler tantrum on the tarmac
It’s actually really difficult to push two and a half stone of toddler one handed in a buggy whilst trying to stop the other one escaping to his doom. Don’t try it.

A round trip to the library can take well in excess of two hours.

But on the bright side, a trip to the library can take up two whole hours.

*This morphed into about four days of house-wide sickness. Fabulous.
**It’s actually free on an under 5s card. Thank heavens for small mercies.

(Oh! Look what I just found hidden in a box of toys. Great. Better pull my socks up before they put out a book warrant and I end up on some kind of list.)Overdue library book


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