Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Step it up

Confucius say: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

So it was that, armed with zen wisdom, newly minted resolutions, and bright and shiny intentions, I began my day with that first, all-important step.

And promptly tripped, falling flat on my face.

Atop my to-do list today? Return a few books to the library.

Minor details, potentially pertinent to the tale: sixteen books, there were, several of which had been in my possession since early 2005.

I'll start this new year off on the right foot, I thought, by wiping the slate (and, by extension, half a bookshelf) clean, and returning these poor, hostage books to my fellow library patrons.

Who have, I am sure, been waiting for three years, with bated breath, to get their grubby hands on a free copy of Southern Fried Divorce.

After major wrangling, multiple wardrobe changes, bribes of all shapes and sizes, occasional threats and some yelling, which only served to exacerbate my ill-conceived hair-of-the-dog hangover, I finally piled the muppers into the minivan, and steered toward the general direction of our neighborhood library.

Once we reached the grounds, I reviewed a brief list of Rules and Expectations.

- There will be no running madly through the parking lot. Or the lobby. Or the stacks.

- We will use Inside Voices. Which means that our evil pirate cackle, the one we've been refining for weeks now, will need to stay within the confines of the minivan.

- The librarians neither anticipate nor appreciate our assistance in reshelving errant books.

- And no matter how pretty the pictures are that we find inside the library's books, we are not, under any circumstances, to tear the pictures out and present them as gifts to Mommy.

Although I recited the Library Commandments in my Most Stern and Scary Voice, occasionally pausing for a pop quiz to gauge comprehension levels ("Now, if you sweep the contents of an entire bookshelf to the floor, then shriek, 'STRIKE!,' what will Mommy do? That's RIGHT: Mommy will put Lightning McQueen into her purse for an all-day time-out."), I was plagued with the fear that my charges were merely humoring me by nodding their heads and looking wide-eyed and adorable.

Confucius say: a mother's intuition, you can steer a ship by it.

Mayhem is what we brought to our library today. Sheer, unadultered mayhem, as the muppers tumbled through the front door in a giggling heap of arms and legs and Outside Voices.

Quickly, I recognized that my best course of action would be to return the books, clear my fine and get the heck out of dodge in record time. I settled the muppers as best I could into the children's section, and prayed mightily for a quick line at the counter.

My prayer went unanswered as I shuffled for an eternity while pretending to turn a deaf ear to the din emanating from the kiddie corral. Or perhaps it was some form of penance for keeping my big bag of books out of circulation for so lengthy a period.

That would, of course, have been in addition to having the annoyed librarian issue me a tsk-tsk and a withering glare as I wrote out a check for sixty dollars. And ninety cents.

Penance served: the deed was done. Tail tucked, poorer but wiser, I crossed the room to fetch the children.

Katie had culled a neat stack of books, all in Spanish, that she wanted me to read. Right now. NOW, Mommy.

"Oh, sweetheart, I'm so sorry," I said, in my most impressive Inside Voice. "Mommy fully intends to learn Spanish some day, but right now: nada. Do you think you can find Maisy en la Granja in Italian?"

Before she could answer, I glanced around the nook and realized that, naturally, Spencer was missing. What never fails to entertain him continues to scare the crap out of me. My heart now reflexively leaps into my throat whenever those blond curls scamper out of sight.

Thankfully, I heard a giggle in the distance right before my palms began to sweat in earnest. The chase, it was on.

I had just about cornered him when I heard snickering near the travel section. Carter, who'd been working on a puzzle when last I saw him, had decided to join in the fun.

With impressive speed, Katie abandoned Maisy and chose a different quadrant of the room in which to hide.

Is there a more descriptive phrase in the English language than "herding kittens?" Or, en espanol, reunion de gatos?

Ciertamente: non.

After an interminable game of chase that had me using, ineffectively, my Outside Voice, I corralled my offspring and marched them out of the door and into the minivan.

And then, after two separate claims of Needing to Go, only one of which proved fruitful, out of the minivan and back through the door.

At last. Sing it, Etta: at long last, they were buckled. I was sweaty. The doors were closed, the vehicle was in gear.

Tummies were grumbling, so we limped across town to Chick-Fil-A. Morsels of chicken were consumed, indoor playground equipment was put to the test, and, just for a moment, this mommy was relaxed.

Until Spencer sought me out and, with a mournful look on his sweet face, took my hand and said, "Green Dog is sad."

Oh, yeah. Green Dog, Spencer's constant companion, was sad indeed. Hiding in some corner of the library, patiently waiting for us to recover him. Sad, lonely, loyal Green Dog.

So it was that we retraced our steps. And eventually, after a joyful reunion with el perro verde, made our way back home.

Confucius say: the journey of a thousand miles? Can wait till next week. When school begins again.


Blogger Kristen said...

My Annie ran away from me in the library once, and hid... IN THE LADIES ROOM. Biggest heart attack I have ever had. Here's to hoping school starts soon- we're not slated for some relief until next Wednesday. Sigh.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Tracey R. said...

Well, first...who would have seen that hangover coming?

Me, that's who. Me and my 39 text messages at .15 a piece. Oh, that's right, I'm sending you a bill, missy.

Okay, so I'm not. Reading this was payment enough.

7:39 AM  
Blogger anniemcq said...

"our evil pirate cackle, the one we've been refining for weeks now, will need to stay within the confines of the minivan"

That was the first line that made me laugh out loud. It was a gut buster from then on.

Oh my dear, to have been a fly on that library wall. You are the best mom ever. And believe it or not, you have inspired me to take JH to the Library today! Woohoo! Look out!

8:12 AM  
Blogger Franklin5 said...

Oh, PLEASE. Jen and I had a ball on your $5.85, giddily causing your cell phone to ping every ten seconds with our bon mots and non sequiturs.

Also, it seems quite the pittance when compared to my sixty dollars. And ninety cents. For books I never even wanted to OWN.

Lollyblogger, I'll be sending good thoughts your way as I pry the muppers off of my calves in front of their classrooms on Tuesday morning.

Don't you dare leave the state without coming to Dallas to see us! We'll make you an honorary member of the posse.

8:19 AM  
Blogger Franklin5 said...

Oh, Annie! I've got all fingers crossed that your library outing is far less eventful than ours was. I can't even tell you how mortifying it was to walk back into the place.

(And yes, I was typing furiously into the night, but look: I GOT 'R DONE. Yee-haw!)

8:30 AM  
Blogger nodnarB! said...

I so love reading about the adventures of Franklin and the C-Mups but it makes me seriously consider what we are in for. Being outnumbered is never good.

10:09 AM  
Blogger life with the wisners said...

i'm sorry. what did i read? you left green dog at the library? and recovered it? that deserves a post in and of itself.

AMEN for green dog.

honestly, i couldn't read most of this because i was so scared for poor spencer. and poor green dog.

how was the reunion? full of wonder and joy? all that this new year brings?

seriously...what was this post about? something about a library or something?

10:15 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

OMG0 that was hilarious! Love reading about your outing. If I have cause to take BOTH my kids at the same time, I make sure to strap Sam into his stroller (as to avoid the running off) and give him a huge snack to munch on. ophie is a piece of cake at the library, compared to Sam. But really, I try to AVOID GOING ANYWEHRE with both OF them, lmao.

11:13 AM  

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