Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cows udders and Child-beasts

Hi-dee ho, good Bloglanders!

Today, for a change, the sun is not beating down upon us in all it's lovely, sunshiny glory. It is overcast and grey. The clouds are heavy - they remind me of the udders of a milking cow - heavy, sagging and waiting to be relieved of the burdensome weight held within. So much for the picnic lunch and plans for reading in the park...

I guess there's a silver lining - even in clouds that remind me of a cow's udder. We made our daily stop at our local library branch to return the pile of DVD's we'd borrowed the previous day to get us through the cloudy - yet somehow sweltering - day, and found some gorgeous, buttery leather chairs to sit in and read the latest literary jewel.

Quite the idyllic picture, isn't it? Even those of you who aren't voracious readers want to curl up in this picture with...well, anything. Just so long as there are words. Perhaps some pictures. If you're into that. Don't you? You do. I know you do. It's okay. You don't have to tell me that your inner nerd is whooping for joy.

Well, let me ruin that for you. Imagine this gorgeous picture....close your eyes and see it, in beautiful detail. See yourself sitting there, reading - or not reading - enjoying. Now, insert about 60 of the loudest, most obnoxious, nerve-gratingly disturbing child-beasts you have ever come across with foul mouths (that would clearly put me to shame, which is quite the feat!) and the poorest (read: non-existent) manners or sense of general courtesy for the people around them that you have ever encountered in your entire life.

I am not a stereotypical singleton/child hater. I neither love them in that I-want-to-run-my-own-daycare way, nor do I belong to the children-should-be-seen-and-not-heard camp. I do expect 'please' and 'thank you' and perhaps that someone should tell you that you are in a library, so please keep your obnoxious, foul-mouthed SCREAMING to a necessary MINIMUM!

Childhood should be filled with lots of giggles, laughter and play. Please, go ahead. Play. Sometimes, even loud, obnoxious play is good too...It is my belief (however incorrect) that play should never have to include profanity as verb modifiers or adverbs. Nor does that need to occurr at the top of your lungs, kiddies!

But there are other public spaces for that - they are called parks. Why should a park be desolate and silent, and a library full of children screaming at one another and running about? Go there! It's right outside. In fact, the City spent 18 months and hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate this that you wouldn't be here, screaming while I am trying to READ!

Of course, complaining to the over-wrought librarian is of no use whatsoever. Her response to my statement that there was no place quiet to read in a space designed for quiet reading? "Tell me about it."

Tell you about what, Madam? The noise? Clearly you can hear that. The hoardes of children - clearly under five - who are not supervised? You can see them, and you instituted that rule, babe. How the designated wheelchair spaces are filled with people who are clearly not disabled? Well, Madam librarian, before you go on at me about hidden disabilities...let me point out that this person has their feet on the table, wearing an iPod so loud that you and I can both hear it, and are apparently 'reading' 50 comic books all at once.

I get the point: this is a library, and not a daycare. You are not here to babysit the neighborhood children. But you are the adult in charge here. Act like it. Please.

Thanks for nothing, lady.

Whatever happened to the neighborhood library of my childhood? I remember it like yesterday. It was so quiet you could hear your feet touch the floor, and make the old wood floors creak. The library staff were always sure to help you with whatever you needed (and a little extra, if you were a regular), but they always made sure that the library space was treated with respect. You spoke with respect, and you spoke quietly, if at all.

I miss those days. When you could find a place to read, and lose your place in the day. I miss the libraries of my childhood.

I guess the secret joy is that you get to take a little piece home with you. Borrowing a library book to me, is like borrowing a piece of tradition. You borrow, you read, you return. I relish the satisfying 'thwack' of a book hitting the bottom of the 'returns' bin. One book down, a million more to read. Millions of pages of delicious words and gloriously satisfying knowledge. Such power to weild with a tiny little square of plastic. My library card; my sword.

Unless of course, you're reading Canadian Literature. But, I digress.

Today, while pointedly ignoring throngs of screaming child-beasts, I found the most gorgeously poignant piece of literature I've read in a long time. "Life on the Refrigerator Door" by Alice Kuipers (which, by the way, though it's classified as Can-Lit doesn't count because she was born in London, England. Phew. You're lucky, Ms. Kuipers) is a fantastic book.

I will tell you that it was so good, I read it in a couple of hours (not bad, considering its 230 pages). What I will not tell you is what it's about. You must go and read it. You will not regret it.

Write yourself a note. Post it on the refrigerator door, to remember. Put it on a little scrap of paper. Whatever. Just go and get it. Read it, and then give it to your friends so that they can read it.


Beauty, surrounded by screaming child-beasts. All is possible with the Almighty Library Card.

Thank goodness for cloudy days.

All my love to each of you.....xo