The Aftermath

5 11 2012

The Librarian:

Well HE isn’t exactly running but clearly this is going to be trouble, she thought as she saw the pre-schooler hurrying down the hall.

As he ducked into the bathroom foyer she told her co-worker, “I am going to have to keep my eye on him to make sure he doesn’t go in the restroom.”

Why cant THEY keep track of their kids, she contemplated as she eye balled him drinking from the fountain and interacting with a white pre-schooler who arrived shortly after him with her mother.

The Kid:

I am not running.  I am not running.  I am NOT running, the boy’s brain repeated as he skipped and scurried down the hall as fast as he could while not EXACTLY running.

I am winning.  I’ll get the first drink.  I will DRINK all the water in the fountain before they even get there, he told himself.

Mom’s right behind me and she hasn’t even yelled yet.  I am almost there.  GREAT, the step-stool is here.  HA, I found it all by myself.  I am going to drink, drink, DRINK.

The Mom:

Well, he isn’t exactly running.

This has been the best trip to the library we have had in a LONG time.

Jeeze, these books are heavy… what was I thinking?

No point in raising my voice now, I will close the gap in a second and he went exactly where I told him to.

Wow, that librarian is CONCERNED.  Should I do my normal nonchalant claim, raise my voice and give him a command to ‘wait’ so it is clear ‘the black kid is my son’?

No, not going to bother. 

We are all back together now… just gonna aim a big smile at the librarian and forget about it.  After all, it is kind of her job to pay attention to these things.

Relaxing a few feet from the drinking fountain with the two giant bags of books resting on the floor.

Quiet – do NOT say anything.  Your kids are cooperating perfectly withOUT you.  If you interfere they will start to squabble.  They are taking turns.  Keep quiet so you don’t spoil it.  Wow, they really are doing great today.

We are in NO hurry.  Silence your brain and relax.  Let them take turns drinking on their own time table.  There is no reason to rush them so Do. Not. Rush. Them.

The Kid:

Finally tired of drinking, walks a few steps towards his mom to ask a question.

The Mom:

Spies her neighbors headed down the hallway with their grandchildren.

At the same time, she is looking at her son standing just a few feet away, contemplating what he just asked her.

The Librarian:

After watching the scene for MORE than a few minutes makes her move.

Cutting BETWEEN the black boy and the white woman he is talking to, she stares down at him.

“Where is YOUR mother?” she demands.

The Kid:

Silence

The Sister:

Silence

The Mom:

“I am HIS MOTHER,” she states clearly.  “Thank you.”

With a follow-up, loud and snide, “Thanks for your concern,” as the librarian moves back across the hall and behind her desk WITHOUT acknowledging a thing.

“Look here’s Mr. Chris.  Boy that baby is sure growing up and starting to look like you,” she says to the neighbor who has arrived at precisely that moment carrying his grandson.

“Say hello to Mr. Chris,” she says to her kids.

Resist the urge, resist the urge.  Do not blurt out the story of what just happened to Chris,  she coaches herself.  DON’T do it… The kids are listening.

“Oh, hello Ms. Mary,” she says to Mr. Chris’ wife.

“Say ‘Hi’ to Ms. Mary,” she tells the kids.

NO, Ms. Mary does not need to hear the story either… keep quiet,  she chides herself.

Is she watching us?  Does she see me talking to these upstanding, WHITE, senior-citizens?  Look, we are a part of the community?  Look! These are our neighbors who know and respect us, her brain screams as she picks up the book bags, grabs hands, says good-bye to the neighbors and prepares to leave the scene.

The Kid and His Sister: 

Mumble hellos while preparing to leave.

The Kid:

“Mom, I still want a bagel, ” he says as he buckles himself into the car seat.

There is an unusual quietness in the car as they drive to the bagel store and then head home.

When they arrive at the house, the boy, searching for control, thinks, There is NO WAY I am letting my sister get out of the van through this door.

The Mom:

Here we go with the stupidest fight on record; daughter refusing to get out of the van on the other side, son refusing to let his sister move past him.

I really can’t take this, she thinks after trying to solve what is becoming a nasty and physical confrontation between her children – the same children that had been getting along great all morning.

She moves towards the house throwing a promise to read the new library books towards the kids who are continuing to squabble.

Both kids panic when she goes through the front door and scramble out of the van to follow her.

Terrible parenting, she thinks.  But at least we are all in the house now.

The Kid and The Mom:

Shortly thereafter the kids are gathered on her lap for a cozy reading session.  A tiny skirmish breaks out – typical of what happens 1,000 times a day in the house with competitive, close-in-age siblings.  Except this normal event causes the boy to completely fall apart.

His body goes limp.

Tears stream down his face as he is racked with sobs.

She knows she needs to pick him up but he is thrashing now.

She knows she needs to hold him tight despite him fighting her with every ounce of his body.

Fucking librarian, she repeats over and over in her head while rocking her son and whispering.

“I love you.  I love you.  I love you.”

The Sister:

Later that afternoon, the sister (who happens to be a securely attached bio child) is practicing her skipping while leaving a big box-store.  Watching her own feet in awe she hears her mother yell her name from BEHIND.

Quickly looking up, she realizes the woman she was following, the woman she thought was her mother, is a stranger.

She rides home in the car silently.

She does NOT tell her mother what is wrong.  She does not tell her mother that anything is wrong.

Upon entering the house she immediately goes in search of her security blanket, Pink.

The Mom:

After checking in with the father, whom she called home from work to help re-regulate the son, she can’t figure out where her daughter has gone.

She was sure her daughter would run in the door to show her father her new glasses.  Confused, she searches for her.

She finds her upstairs frantically looking for her blanket.

“I know where ‘Pink’ is,” she says locating the blanket and handing it to her daughter.

As she sees her daughter’s eyes well up with tears a light-bulb goes on.

“Honey, are you upset because you thought that other woman was me?” she asks.

“It is no big deal.  I was right there the whole time.  I could SEE YOU the whole time.”

The daughter begins to cry in earnest.

She gathers her daughter onto her lap and sits down in a chair.

“I will never let you get away from me.  It is fine.  I am your mother.  I watch out for you and your brother.  You are fine,” she repeats.

The girl is wracked with sobs.  No matter what her mother says she can’t calm down.  She cries herself to sleep at 4 in the afternoon.

Fucking librarian, the mother thinks over and over as she holds her daughter.

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9 responses

5 11 2012
jcmarie

This post hurts my heart.

5 11 2012
barbaloot

The librarian needs to read this. I’d be tempted to wrap it around a brick for delivery myself. Poor lambs. F’ing librarian. I hope everyone rediscovers their sense of security quickly.

5 11 2012
shannoncl

Fucking librarian is right. Fuck.

5 11 2012
Scooping it up

we stopped going to a library in our town due to this shit. we go to one in a better for us neighbor, where we are surrounded with patience, kindness, village-like love every time my screamy dysregulated kids through that door. it has been like learning how to breathe again in public being in a supportive place.

6 11 2012
The Lost Planetista

You should send a copy of this to the fucking librarian.

6 11 2012
Casa Bicicleta

The hard part for me was that even after she made the mistake, she wasn’t sorry. Or embarrassed. At least that.
Ugh.

6 11 2012
Sarah Deem

This made my heart hurt for all of you. I get angry when I see *any* little kid unsupervised. So, I get that people see my daughter and worry that she’s not being supervised. However, I’ll also admit that most of my awkward or painful racial/parenting moments come when people are trying to keep track of my family for me. I think it’s often because by the time they have figured out that I am her mother–they have already directed a lot of anger towards *whoever* that child’s parents are. It’s hard for those emotions to dissipate. It gets old hovering around her, or purposely insert phrases like, “Stay with your sister” for other people’s benefit. We like everything to line up and make sense. “Okay, so *she’s* adopted. How about *this* one?” Literally pointing their finger at my blue-eyed child, who looks different from my three brown-eyed children, who look different from their brown-skinned sister. I find myself getting less and less tolerant of explaining who/what we are to strangers.

By the way–I had to read this twice. I totally read, “Librarian” as, “Libertarian.” I was SO confused. “What? What on earth does this have to do with politics. Is this an allegory?”

Also, this made me smile: “Quiet – do NOT say anything. Your kids are cooperating perfectly withOUT you…We are in NO hurry. Silence your brain and relax. Let them take turns drinking on their own time table. There is no reason to rush them so Do. Not. Rush. Them.”

This type of monologue goes on in my head often.

6 11 2012
Semi-Feral Mama

I absolutely agree, Sarah. I rest my hand on the top/back of L.D.’s head ALL THE TIME when we are in public. Recently I realized it is my way to provide a subtle, visual cue to the curious. “Nothing to see here. Just a mother and her son.”
I felt for the librarian first but the way she handled it was AWFUL. She had, absolutely built up her angst about WHO was supposed to be watching this child. It blinded her to the obvious fact that I was in charge of him. She made her snap judgement in just a few seconds and then was blinded by it for the ensuing minutes. And, UGH, the way she confronted him… as if HE was the one who was doing something wrong. If he had lost his guardian, wouldn’t that ultimately be the guardian’s fault?
I also CONSTANTLY say things like. “Stay with your sister/brother. Be kind to your s/b.” I used to do it unconsciously, but I am sure I have always been trying to establish in other people’s minds, “Oh, they are a FAMILY.”
Too bad about that blue-eyed kid – must be hard to parent that type of diversity! More proof that some adults need something more important to occupy their small minds.

12 11 2012
Kyra

Seriously, what an idiot. Have you been able to talk to the kids about what happened? Sorry to hear about this experience.

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