The librarian reads stories of clouds and shapes as my daughter turns to scowl in my direction. When she makes eye contact, she swirls back around in a silent huff. She is mad at me because I won’t sit with her on the mat with all of the other children.
She has been sitting on her own with the other children with no problem for months. She usually skips to the front of the room and doesn’t glance back at me until they all sing a song, clap, and wave good-bye.
It wasn’t always like that. In fact, some of my children’s worst behaviors seem to come out when we go to story time at the library: tantrums, epic crying fits, hitting, block throwing, unloading book shelves, screaming, and pushing the handicap door opener over and over again.
When my daughter was six months old, we attended regularly. Her brother was two; he was wild and somewhat uncontrollable. I would try to chase him around the room and get him to sit still, or at least stay in the general vicinity of the story area, while she desperately clung to me. If I sat her down or left her in her car seat on the floor next to the board books, she would cry. She would only be happy on my lap or in my arms.
It was nearly impossible to take them both to story time. I was tired of all of the sympathetic or annoyed looks, so we took some time off. I put my son in gymnastics where his wild behaviors did not stand out so much, and his sister could happily sit on my lap for thirty minutes.
Over the past few years, we have participated in story time here and there. Sometimes it was successful. Other times, not so much. This summer we started attending regularly again. Magically, when we arrived at the first session, my children sat, they listened, they participated … as long as they were both on my lap.
Over the next few months, I managed to ease my way back to the comfy chairs designated for the parents while they sat with the other children and behaved themselves. Library success!
Today not so much. My son is now slumped over and refusing to participate because I won’t let him leave the room to look for dinosaur books. I keep trying to make eye contact with him to give him one of my fierce mom looks, so he will stop edging his way toward the door.
Meanwhile, I am trying not to make eye contact with my daughter and feed into her drama. But, she is good at holding a grudge and manages to keep her pouty face on for at least half of story time. At one point, she even flops down on the floor and covers her face.
Then the librarian leads the group in a silly dance, and she forgets all about why she is mad. She smiles and hops and twirls with the other kids. For a moment, she forgets all about her mom sitting in the back of the room.
Surprisingly, I’m a little sad when story time is over, and she runs to a corner with two other girls to play picnic while my son walks to the other room to read about meat-eating dinosaurs. My lap isn’t needed so much anymore.