I might as well have yelled “fire” in a crowded theater. Here is the story…
Once a week I volunteer for Vivien’s class when they go to their school library. By every week I mean every few weeks as we are at a public charter school that is underfunded and rents space, so we are often kicked out of the library if the landlords need it. It’s a great little library and our librarian is a dad who volunteers tons of time to sort, organize and label books, coordinate parental volunteers. He is the kind of parent every school needs ( hundreds of).
For my daughter’s class another dad and I show up to read the class a story and help them pick a book to check out for the week ( or two months depending upon the next time we get in the library). Afterward we sort and re shelve books. Rather I do, some parents don’t, I’m not naming names, but it hasn’t gone unnoticed. (arched eyebrows)
The other parent had read the book the last few weeks so I was eager to read this week. Let’s face it, that’s the money job, right?
” I need a ringer” I said to Librarian dad. He picked something about a dragon that was fun and I can’t remember the name because I got so in the zone while telling the story. I had a little bit of opening night jitters, but I really sold it to the K-1 crowd. I had them eating out of my hand! Only a few inappropriate interruptions of non-sequiturs ( you know when a kid says something like, “my grandfather has an ax”. That’s nice kid, I’m reading a story about a dog)
Well, flush with my bang up job of reading I moved on to helping them pick a book. I knew Vivien was proud of her mom and she was being such a good girl I helped her first. Ha, whom I kidding, I always help her first. When I was sorting before the class arrived I noticed two books with unicorns. I filed it mentally, “must tell Vivien about unicorn books”.
Now, here comes the bone head mom move. I said ALOUD
“Vivien, there are two books about unicorns”
UNICORNS she and her 3 best girl friends yelled. But, here was the problem. I MENTALLY noticed the books, I didn’t PHYSICALLY put them away. As I scanned the stacks I did need to also assist some other kids.
“Where are the fairy tales?” one little girl asked. Check, found that. Meanwhile, their teacher is starting to do the countdown.
“You all have 2 minutes to find your book and line up.” I am finding NOTHING about unicorns. Now, I have introduced the concept of scarcity to these little girls and Vivien and her best friend, who had walked in holding hands were now at war. I had found a book about moons or bunnies or somethng and tried to sell it to Vivien in lieu of unicorns, she took the bait, but so did her BFF so there was a conflict about who would get it. Another girl said they should do “eany-meany”, but they had a fight over that which caused BFF to go and hide under a table as Vivien shouted,
” I don’t want her to count on me.”
“Oh, Librarian dad” I summoned. “Where are the unicorn books?”
“Hmm, I don’t know.” It was hard to scan the books, repair a friendship over the din of “stupid, stupid” that was running through my head.
“Vivien’s mom” asked a little boy “where is a shark book?” Scan for sharks and unicorns.
“Here it is” Librarian dad found the first one. Vivien tossed the other book aside and grabbed it.
“I want one too!” yelled BFF. Fortunately, the other two girls, who are about 6- 9 months older and possess a whole other level of maturity, had found books about butterflies and pirate girls, yes, I did sell them on them and it worked. Phew.
“Here is the other one” my white knight said.
“Line up!” The teacher commanded. Just as I handed the boy a shark book.
“I got this one.” he said toting a book about turtles toward the door.
Vivien fell in line behind her BFF. They were smiling. I gave her a kiss and off they went to class.
As I sorted I said to library dad.
“Wow, what a blunder! Why did I tell a group of 5 year old girls that there were unicorn books when I wasn’t totally sure where these books were?” I knew the answer. I wanted to be perfect mom. The mom who volunteers, who cares about her kids school and also brings joy and happiness to her daughter.
“Yeah”, Library dad said. “That was pretty stupid.”
I know there is no name calling in school. But, he was right.