Wednesday, 3 January 2007

The Library

The library in the centre of town always brings back memories. Like the time we were asked not to come back. It was six months before I had the courage to show myself. I hoped by leaving it so long the librarian would have forgotten what we looked like. She hadn't. She kept her eyes on us. She has the sort of puckered up lips you might get if you drank raw lemon juice several times a day.

It was when the children were all aged 3. Now with triplets I'm definitely at a disadvantage when they all run off in different directions. And they did. Shark started it by weeing on the floor behind the parent's shelf. I decided a dignified exit might be in order. Shark and Tiger ran off from the childrens area, which is upstairs, and legged it down to the exit, on the ground floor. Only Squirrel wouldn't come. She'd found some audio tapes and she wasn't going to leave them. But I had to run after Shark and Tiger. They were the ones who could leave the building, after all. And this is where I blame the librarian. She made it worse. She seemed to think I'd run off, abandoning my child. As if I would do it in the middle of a library for pity's sake. No, I'd choose a forest or something and frisk her for breadcrumbs. So the librarian ran after me. I thought you weren't supposed to shout in the library. That librarian was doing plenty. Especially when Squirrel sat on the floor and started ripping the cassette tape from the spools.

I needn't have worried about Shark and Tiger running out the library. They were having a fight on the stairs. Tiger seemed to be lying across several steps and Shark had her foot on Tiger's head. There was a huge amount of screaming going on in all directions by then. A bit of motherly physical intervention was called for. One at a time I got them to the ground floor desk and asked the lemon sucker if she could help. 'No' she said. Thank you, Melton Council, for your training programme. So I left Shark and Tiger brawling by the 'Just returned' shelf at her desk and ran back up for Squirrel, by now wrapped in cassette tape and resembling some strange sort of miniature mummy. I got her down the stairs and put her with the other two. They're all screaming and howling and rolling around the floor and I try and take a breather and recover my senses. Suddenly, Squirrel jumps up and runs off out the building. She sets off the alarm as she goes, because she's still holding the cassette boxes. I chase after her, bring her back, and Tiger legs it back up the stairs to the children's library. So I chase after her, bring her back, and find Shark and Squirrel, still wrapped up in her cassette tape, pulling books off the shelf 'Just returned'.

It's still raw, three years later. The horrible details still haunt me. The look of contempt from the lemon sucker and the line of parents with perfect pre-schoolers staring at the floor show. The cassette tape, streaming in the wind.

I suppose I got off lightly. I had to pay £6.99 today for the book we lost in August last year. It was part of our 'Workplace' project, and it was titled, 'Jobs people do: the librarian'. I have a horrible feeling I might have thrown it in the bin, by accident.

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