Thursday, June 16, 2011

how to take your kids to the library

Our little town has the neatest, little Children's Library. For the first few years, I would take a few children, and leave a few home with Dad. Every once in a while, I'd get brave, and take everyone. Then, for a while, we all went (including Dad) on Saturday mornings. Then it went back to me taking a few children.

Now, we are all going (minus Dad, because he has to work) every Thursday morning for almost an hour and a half. We leave the house in enough time to look at books for a half hour or so, and then participate in Storytime.

I did a trial run about three weeks ago, reminding everyone as we pulled into the parking lot that there was NO running, No being loud, and everyone must be on their best behavior or we WOULD, indeed, leave. (knowing I would have to follow through with this, or they'd never take me seriously. also knowing, that I would most likely be cutting our Library trip short, since we were already dealing with some not-so-pretty post-vacation behavior).

We were there about thirty minutes when Benjamin had his first meltdown. I took him to the bathroom, reminded him of the rules, and got him calmed down. About fifteen minutes later, meltdown number two arose. I informed everyone who had books that it was time to check out, apologized to the librarians, and we were out of there. I should have down that with the first episode.

(little side note: Benjamin's meltdown was over a wooden firetruck that all the kids get on and ride. He was fighting with Wesley over who was going to drive. There was also a slight squabble over the Lego table. Both the firetruck and Lego table have been banned on our Library trips. We do not go to the Library to play with toys. We go to check out books, and listen to stories.)

The next week, Storytime started. I knew I would have to have a fool-proof arrangement. So we did a little pre-planning.

I made sure to have all our library books that were currently checked out written down. We went over the lists, checking things off, "Return, Keep," and each child put their books in their own bag (we now use the receipt from the previous week). No talk of fees, overdues, left behinds, etc. at check in.

I told everyone they could check out five books. Since we will be going each Thursday, that seemed enough. I'm not real strict about this rule, but for the most part, everyone sticks to it. The total reaches six, or seven sometimes.

I told Connor and TJ they were to stay together (which was completely unnecessary, but I informed them nonetheless).

I told the girls that they were to spend the first few minutes with their partners (Benjamin and Wesley), helping them select five storybooks, and looking at the model train, and watching the fishies (OK, so we go to the library to check out books, listen to stories, look at the model train, and watch the fishies). At that point, I would take over, and they would have twenty minutes or so to look for books for themselves. Kylie has even begun to get on the Library's website to look for/request books, so she pretty much already has a list and a plan.

Then, at Storytime, Kylie and I sit down with the four youngest boys and listen and craft our way around the world. While Korinne and Connor read at a nearby table.

Check out is all together and orderly. Each of the older, reading children have their own Library card (a perk here at the Bailey home once you learn to read), and they check out their own books, and put them in their own bag. I check out Benjamin's and Wesley's on my card, and help them put their books into their bags. They give the receipt directly to me, I staple them together, and slip them into the so-handy Library Summer Calendar so that we can be sure to have everything the next week, as we check off for the morning's trip. It also helps in avoiding all those nasty Library fines.

Last week was an absolutely beautiful Library trip. I was amazed at how well everyone did, how fun the trip was, and praised myself accordingly.

This week was a wakeup call.

Although it was nothing like our trial run, it did not go near as smoothly as last week. And I knew that I had been premature in my celebration of conquering the Library with SE7EN children. But we're not going to give up! I think as long as we stay the course, each week will get easier and easier. And my grown children will have many, many wonderful memories of spending time with their Momma and brothers and sisters at that little Children's Library in that one little town we used to live in.

Now, if I can just make a plan for the grocery store.