Safety in Libraries

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

September 24, 2009

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Categories: The Balancing Act

Our obsession with safety has been a theme lately.  My actions towards my son and my husband’s actions towards our son, for example.  We do certain things to keep him safe.  We are so concerned, as parents, as a society, in protecting childhood innocence, I am beginning to wonder if we squander away learning experiences by being the overprotective parents we would have hated.

“It’s not safe there,” said the reference librarian as I began to set Levi on the counter so I could wriggle out the library card with two hands.  I smiled politely, set Levi on the ground, held his hand tighter (he was loosening the grip), and began to struggle, slowly, with removing the library card from my wallet with one hand.

I had a shoulder bag across my body, a light-weight tote bag with 2 books to check out for Levi, and Levi all on my person in some manner.  Levi had been loosing his patience, all he really wanted to do was look at each and every board book in the children’s section.  But, as an adult, I have things to do which included getting my holds, Peter’s holds, and these books for Levi within 15 minutes of the allotted parking before the milk started to spoil in the Bravada.  Levi and I had already read a few books, and now I wanted to locate an airplane book for him, which meant following the reference librarian around.  We decided to put a few books on hold, which required use of the library card.  Again, all Mr. 30-lb-2-year-old wanted to do was wriggle out of holding my hand and go back over to the children’s books.

Unfortunately, that space was out of my view.  I grew up on Stranger Danger, and we live in a somewhat busy city.  It’s certainly busier and bigger than the sleepy town of Greenville where I was raised.  Stranger Danger is one consistent fear I have.  One day, Levi squandered himself on the porch which resulted in 30 seconds of pure unadulaterated panic on my part.  Where was he?  He’s not down the street, where could he have gone in that 2 minutes?  He can’t run that fast, can he?! Then, he giggled, and I started to shake.  I am not letting this little, prescious, innocent boy out of my site.

So, what do you do with a squirmy 2-year old?  I take the option of holding his hand, and when that doesn’t work picking him up with hopes of hugging him on the counter to give my arm a rest while picking out my library card with two hands.

Sadly, that wasn’t to be because it wasn’t safe.

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