That Happened

How To Survive A Visit To The Children's Library Without Getting Banned For Life

What every mom thinks as she ushers her littles in the door.

school boy taking books from shelves in library, with a stack of books in hands. child brain develop...

Listen up, you four. We’re about to walk through those sliding doors into the library. Stop looking at your reflections – I need all your eyes on me for a second before we go in. In the Children’s Section, there will be a cardboard standee of Pete the Cat, and perhaps one of Captain Underpants. Both should still be standing after you pass by.

I know those empty aisles feel like lanes on a track. I know they do. And that quiet air makes one of you – I won’t say a name – want to belt out Adele. I know it does, but we have been at the park where you have used your legs and your lungs, and now it’s time for the eyeballs and brains. Here is what’s about to happen:

We’re going to claim a small table – yes, we can get the one with the rainbow chairs by the window if it is not occupied. On our table, you will stack the books you’d like to check out, and I will sort through them and make the official decision. I repeat: I will make the official decision on which books we bring home, based mainly on the amount of text per page.

We will check out ten books in total. Ten. That is the number of fingers on your hands and toes on your feet.

I know you like books that have “butt” in the title. I may allow one of those. I know you want books with graphic pictures of vicious predators. I may allow one of those as well.

Some of the books have pages with tears in them or smears of what looks like snot. We will brave those inconveniences and see the value in the books anyway.

Stay away from the bins of board books on the floor in the back – they have too much slobber for even us to brave.

Please don’t pull out seventeen books and spread them on the floor. One book at a time. If you cannot read the words, read the pictures. Yes, you may sit on the floor. No, you may not do a forward roll.

Yes, you may ask the librarian a question. No, you may not ask her for a snack.

When we have our ten books, we might do the Self Check-Out, if it is open, and I might let you help me scan the barcodes. If you take turns with the scanner and this trip goes smoothly, then we will listen to the Sing 2 soundtrack on the way home take the road with the good bumps.

Is everyone ready? In the name of literacy, let’s go.

Hampton Williams Hofer lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she writes and raises babies. Her work has appeared in Flying South, Walter Magazine, Architectural Digest, and Food 52, among others. Family aside, her great loves are a South Carolina beach, a Roger Federer backhand, a Charlottesville lawn, and–most of all–a good story.