I took the library books back on Saturday, primarily because the Provo library was having their annual “get these things out of our used bookstore” sale. And by “sale,” I actually mean free books.
I should have known better, first of all. By the time I got there in the evening, the books had been picked over so well that the only ones left were romance titles like “Santa Slept Over!” So I abandoned the book sale and decided to just return the children’s books we had checked out.
Then I remembered that John had ripped another book. He’s been experimenting with ripping his own books, and occasionally the library books as well. I’m at the point where I’ve been thinking of just leaving the library alone. I don’t want my kid to be responsible for damaging the entire children’s section.
I apologized, embarrassed, and showed the librarian the two shredded pages. “What would you like me to do?” I asked.
“Just leave it here,” she said, “and we’ll send it to Damages. They’ll figure out whether they can fix it, and if they can’t, they’ll charge you for the book.” Surprisingly, she was still smiling. I was expecting a stern lecture or a disapproving glare. Something to make me feel bad for letting me little boy treat their books with such disrespect, at any rate.
“I’m so sorry,” I said again.
“It’s worth it!” She said cheerfully. “Your son is becoming literate!” That’s the first time I’d ever thought of it that way. I mean, I’m willing to be a little more lenient when it’s a book we own. Especially if it was cheap, from the used book store. But I’ve always assumed the librarians were in charge of keeping unruly kids in order. This lady wasn’t babysitting; she was providing teaching materials. And of course that means something’s going to get broken.
So I’m trying to be a little easier on my toddler. He still needs to learn to take care of his books, but he also needs to learn to read, and that means there are going to be casualties.