I am a bad mom. An over-controlling, dream crusher of a mom.
I hope you will still be my friend after you have read this rundown of what our library trips, up until a couple of weeks ago, looked like. Brace yourself.
1. We enter the library.
2. The boys run exuberantly to the kid section.
3. Bennett runs straight to the Spiderman 3 book. He knows exactly where it is. He also knows he is only allowed to read it in the library, because we aren't going to check it out.
4. Joshy runs to the computer where he sits playing little kid games to his heart's content because he is only allowed to play computer games on Saturdays when we are at home.
5. Relieved that the boys are occupied, I commence The Great Search For The Perfect Library Books. I go up and down each aisle, with a slightly sour, prim look on my face, sniffing every once in a while in disgust and indignation at a particularly offensively dull children's book before moving on to the next row.
6. Every once in a while, Joshy will run to me with a hopeful look on his face, carrying a library book. I reluctantly flip through its pages, then declare "no, this one has too many words," or "you know we don't check out books that are made from tv shows, but you are welcome to read it while you are here, dearie."
7. Bennett comes over with his Spiderman 3 book with hope in his eyes, and of course I dash that hope into itty bitty pieces because not only is this book for kids much, much older than Bennett, but it also has actual photos from the movie in it, and that is just as boring as it gets!
8. Once or twice, Joshy strikes it rich and I nod approvingly, "that looks fun," and let him put the book in the book bag. He has no idea why I have finally accepted one, but he is happy to be useful.
9. Bennett picks a book we have recently checked out or something else that I just don't want to have to read to him, and I surreptitiously sneak it back on the shelf when he has run off again.
10. We leave the library, the boys' two book bags full of hardback, beautifully illustrated, carefully selected
Okay, I just can't bear typing one more word of that. Yikes, I'm breaking my own heart just writing it.
I hadn't realized just how bad I'd gotten.
It wasn't always this way, you know. I wasn't always this snobby. I just got so tired of second-rate library books that I took matters into my own hands and forgot who we were going to the library for. After I posted my previous post about fun library books, I had a couple of friends suggest that, you know, children's books are for kids or something.
Wait,what? Can you run that by me again?
(If you've seen this movie, I think you might have a good idea of my parenting style. Netflix streaming.)
Anyway, after that little wake-up call and some introspection, I committed to the following experiment:
Okay, here's what I'm going to do. The next time we go to the library, I'm going to let the boys pick every single book. I'm going to try my very hardest to let them get every book they want. Then I'll see if I can stomach reading them to them for the week. But I am going to have them talk about each one after we read it and if they say they like it, I'm going to ask them why. I will then tell them what I thought of it. Sound fair?
Before we went to the library, I prepped the boys. I told them I would give them each their own library book bag and they could fill it up with whatever the heck books they wanted. I told them that if I asked, "Can we get this book, too?" they should tell me, "No, Mom, you aren't picking library books today." Joshy, compassionate and sweet, looked at me and said, "You can pick some too, Mommy, that's ok." But I was firm.
1. We enter the library.
2. The boys run exuberantly to the kid section, each with their own book bags in hand.
3. They begin stuffing books into their bags as fast as they can. They look like they are going to clear an entire shelf of paperback books in five seconds, so I quietly suggest that they can also go to any other shelves they want to.
4. They run, they laugh, they are so excited. They almost can't believe it that for every single book they grab, I nod and say, "That's great! Put it in your bag."
5. It's like Halloween, but with books instead of candy.
6. Bennett is so excited to get the Spiderman 3 book that he gets two of them.
7. The boys are done in like five minutes.
8. We leave the library and, even though I am totally ready to go home and do lunch, at Bennett's request, we go to play at the park behind the library. Heck, I'm one of those "chill" parents now. My kids are running the show. I'm just here to make sure no one gets hurt.
9. On the way to the park, Joshy picks a flower and gives it to me because I "didn't get to pick any library books."
10. We all feel free, excited, and happy.
11. I don't yell at them at the park. I don't boss their every move. When they are ready to leave, we leave, and I don't hurry them as they meander down the trail back to the car.
12. At home during the week, we read the books. When I ask them what they like about them, I am a little surprised. They never mention the illustrations. Joshy almost always mentions something about the storyline, like that he doesn't like Spiderman 3 because Spiderman turns bad. Or that he likes how the girl in the airplane book rescues all the people and saves the day. He likes a Ni Hao Kai-Lan book because it teaches us another language. Bennett can't really explain why he likes a book, but he definitely likes his Spiderman book and is constantly looking at all the pictures.
13. We go to the library the next week and end up checking out 41 books. I pick some that I like, the boys pick some they like, and we all enjoy ourselves 100%.
14. I am a better mommy. Just a little bit better, but better.
On a side note, thank you for all the book recommendations! We will have to check them out.
I just have to recommend one more that my mother reminded me of. I grew up with this book and this week my boys have been completely fascinated with it and have asked to read it over and over and over again. The husband and wife that created this book (and other fun ones too like King Bidgood's in the Bathtub) often base their books on things that happened in their own family.