Today was my day “off”, and thus my day on kid drop-off and pickup duty. Despite snowfall and a major traffic issue, I got the kids to their schools, and then I had a few hours to myself.
As usual, this consisted of me running around cramming everything I needed to do for the week into the space of five hours. Animal shelter, gym, bank, dry cleaners, grocery store, then home to log into work and clean out prescription refills, clinical questions, emails. That left just enough time to do some laundry and take a nice shower. Then, I was off to get the kids.
I like to do something fun with them after school, and today, I thought we’d try the library.
Just last week, a friend and I were talking about how much money we spend on books for the kids. We’ve both been reluctant to use the library, because we stress about keeping the books in good condition. My kids, like most three- and four-year-olds, will sometimes draw in books. Or, tear the pages. Or, take a pair of scissors to the pages.
But, as my friend and I chatted, we both expressed that we feel guilty about not using the library more. It’s a lot of money to spend on books that they outgrow so fast.
So this past weekend, the kids and I spent Saturday morning at our local library. There’s a lovely kids’ room: a large and impressively well-stocked, family-safe space. There are not only books and magazines, but also computers, including indestructible touchscreen computers set at teeny desks, with art, music and learning programs- no internet. There’s a puppet theater, couches, and a reading nook. Overall, it’s a pretty cool place.
I also noticed that many of the kids’ books are really beat up, with scrawls here and there, some pages torn. This was a wonderful realization! We weren’t expected to keep the books pristine!
That Saturday morning library adventure was a hit. The dedicated childrens’ librarian spent time helping us find books featuring Curious George, kitties, and, of course, skunks. We left with a pile of books.
So today, when I suggested that we go to the library to drop off those books and pick up new ones, I wasn’t surprised when the kids happily said Okay.
Now, Nana had noted last night that Babyboy was a bit clingy and whiney, but I figured he was tired. He goes to bed too late; they both do. But she thought he might be coming down with something.
And, Babygirl’s had a cough for about a week now. We’ve been doing multiple awakenings a night with her, due to her coughing fits. She’s got a humidifier, we’ve tried steamy baths, menthol chest rubs, drinks with honey, everything you can safely do. But every night, she’s been up. No fevers, and she’s fine during the day. It’s just one of those things. But as a result, she’s been a bit tired as well, and grumpy.
So. We were at the library for about a half and hour, Babygirl drawing on the computer, Babyboy quietly following me around as I picked out some books. There were many more people there than had been on the weekend, mainly school-aged children meeting tutors, and parents doing after-school kid time, like we were.
Suddenly, I heard Babyboy say, “My tummy hurts.”
I looked and he was bent over holding his belly.
“Do you have to use the bathroom?” I asked. Babyboy’s been in potty training again, and doing pretty well.
“Yeah,” he answered softly, and he looked a little pale. Thinking he may be about to throw up, I grabbed his hand and we flew to the family restroom. I fairly tossed my pile of books on a corner of the checkout desk as we ran by. Fortunately, the restroom is right there in the Children’s room.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it in time, and Babyboy had underpants full of liquid stool.
And very unfortunately, I hadn’t thought to bring a diaper bag.
Very conscious of the fact that my three-year-old was still alone at the computer, I did the only thing I could do. I grabbed reams of toilet paper and cleaned Babyboy up as best I could, and as quickly as I could. Those clothes had to go back on him. Ugh.
I got him dressed and explained that we needed to go home, so he could get in the tubby. We washed our hands like crazy, and hurried back to the computers. I gathered our coats, and told Babygirl that we needed to leave.
“No! I’m not done yet!” howled Babygirl, pushing me and her coat away. I shushed, then quietly coaxed, then ordered her, but she planted herself firmly in that seat and kept drawing.
I leaned forward and whispered in her ear: “Your bother has diarrhea in his pants, and we need to get him home to the tubby. Finish up and put on your coat NOW.”
“No!” She didn’t even look at me.
I was about to just pick her up and carry her out when I heard Babyboy making uncomfortable noises beside me. He was again bent forward, holding his belly.
Rewind and repeat. Same thing. More liquid stool. Another rushed cleanup. But this time, as I was delicately pulling folds of clothes here and there and dabbing with toilet paper in a futile attempt to minimize the mess, I heard Babygirl yelling: “Moommeeeeee! Mommy mommy mommy where are you????”
I had to leave Babyboy, open the bathroom door, and walk aways to where she could see me, then yell back to her “I’ll be right there honey!” Of course, everyone in the place is now looking at her and then at me. What the hell type of parent leaves their little kid alone and out of view in a public place? I’m sure was the general sentiment.
I had to go back into the bathroom and finish “cleaning”. Again we pulled his wet, soiled clothes on. Again we washed our hands like crazy.
And again I tried to get Babygirl to leave. This time, I was more forceful, and this time, she threw a tantrum. A loud, screaming, howling tantrum. “Nooooo mommy I’m NOT going! I’m NOT going! I WANT TO DRAW! AAAAAAAAAH!
I could feel people’s heads turning, hear quiet conversations stopping. Oh goodness.
Big deep breath. I grabbed all the coats, my purse, and Babygirl under one arm, and went to collect Babyboy, who was standing at the checkout counter, chatting with the librarian. He was pointing at the the scanner, asking, “What’s that? What does it do? Can I see?” and she was humoring him. In the process, she had gathered all those books I had tossed on the counter, and had started checking us out.
I felt like we couldn’t leave without the books, so, I had to get out my card. Thus, Babygirl ended up on the floor again, rolling around, face covered in snot and tears, yelling “I’M NOT READY TO GO YET! I’M NOT READY TO GO YET! I WANT TO FINISH MY DRAWING! YAAAAARGGH!!! WAAAAAAH!!!”
“I’m so sorry,” I apologized to the librarian.
“Oh, don’t worry,” she reassured, smiling kindly, totally unfazed, “That’s why we have the Children’s room.”
Books checked, I added those to my load, somehow again hoisting Babygirl up under one arm, she still protesting and howling. We made our way to the front doors.
An elderly woman held the door for us, smiling. Babyboy dawdled, and she stood, smiling and waiting.
“I am so sorry,” I apologized to the lady.
“Oh, don’t worry,” she reassured, smiling kindly, totally unfazed, “I’ve been there, done that.”
She offered to carry our pile of books, and walked with us across the parking lot, in the heavily falling snow. While I continued to wrassle with Babygirl, she stayed close to Babyboy, who was toeing the snow, dragging his feet, admiring his tracks. Once at the car, she placed the books in the front passenger seat for me, waiting on Babyboy’s side until I had Babygirl strapped in and could get over there.
And off we went, to home.
Home. Babygirl got a binky and Curious George, plopped on the couch, finally quiet. Babyboy got his tubby. The clothes went into the washer on “extra-sanitary” setting, which I imagine means really hot water for a really long time. He’s been running a low-grade fever since. Neither of them ate dinner, only sippie cups of warm milk.
But, they happily read all of their new library books before falling asleep.
I’d like to say thank you:
To the librarian who made me feel at ease while my daughter threw a doozy of a tantrum in her space: your matter-of-fact demeanor and reassuring response were better than Benzos. I so appreciate that.
To the woman who held the door, carried our books, and watched over my child, I’m sending you telepathic thanks. You are truly an angel. Praying that you win the lottery this week, because you deserve it.