Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Library Story Time
I take my kids to storytime at the public library because it is free and because they love being read to. It requires me to exercise more patience than in any other area of my life. It also requires me to take a deep breath and count to ten before I lose my cool. And because we live in a town that is predominantly Indian and Asian, it forces me to accept other cultures for what they are and try to embrace our differences instead of freaking out.
To begin with, the storytime ages are listed on the door of the story room, they are online and they are posted in the children's section of the library but everyone disregards the age specifications and you will see 16 month olds at the preschool event, or you will see an 8 year old at the baby storytime.
What happens next is, everyone arrives late.
Then, as the storytime lady reads the story, children AND parents, push and step on people until they are at the front of the room and then sit on people's feet who are already there. This creates bedlam and causes the children who are already there to miss parts of the story and also makes it impossible for the storytime lady to be able to read an entire story straight through. Once in a while the storytime lady will stop, reprimand the parents or children and then continue. It generally doesn't do anything but cause one or two children to cry.
Then there are the parents that drop their kids off at storytime because for some reason they consider this half hour program a viable daycare solution. I'm not sure why they do this but they must need to get something done at the library that their children cannot be a part of. It is especially fun when their child starts to freak out when they realize their Mom or Dad is gone and that creates another problem. Last week a child was wailing and wandering around outside the library because when storytime finished and their Mom was not there in the room, the child wandered away. The best part of this story is that everyone was walking past the child and not helping her, as if helping her would have somehow been too dificult or maybe upset the child more. Anyway - when the mother finally found the child, instead of hugging her and apologizing for having left her, she openly scolded her and blamed her for wandering off. This by the way is not cultural, parents do this the world around.
Once storytime is over the storytime lady puts pictures out for kids to take so you can go home and color them or sit in the library and color them. That way if your Mom has dropped you off and left, you can wait it out by coloring something pretty. The problem is that all the children AND parents push to the front of the room to grab 3 or 4 or 8 pictures for their kids which creates all this havoc but also means that when your kids finally get to the pictures, there will be none left. Last night a little girl grabbed 4 pictures and then while her sister tried to get one from her, held them over her head and pushed her sister by the neck to keep her away as she walked out of the room. When her mother asked her why she didn't give one to her little sister (who is in tears by now) she shouted angrily, "I got 3 for her!" and then stomped away. It was classic.
Lastly the children and some parents saunter out of the library and into the parking lot where I continually am amazed that there aren't more reports of children being run over by cars because no one holds their child's hand in the parking lot and kids are running around like it is a playground. How these children stay alive in their countires of origin is beyond me, it is terrifying to think of. I know that there are countries where the infant mortality rate is higher than ours but I tend to think it is because they are being hit by cars because their parents do not require them to hold hands when walking in the street.
There was a caucasian woman last month who picked up her 2 year old old after 10 minutes of angry comments and left storytime because she couldn't handle the cultural diversity and the social norms of people outside of her ethnic group. As you can see, I am an ambassador for our country in a sea of cultural diversity. And while I feel like a salmon swimming upstream, at least I continue to swim.