Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Overheard at the Palo Alto public library

Mark and Carolyn's kitchen remodel is well underway so I went to the local library to cut 2-inch squares for an upcoming sewing project. A new library is being constructed so a temporary library has been set up in a nearby community auditorium.

A young mother came in with her four children, all under the age of 5. She began looking at books in the children's section but the children went straight to the computer and began shouting for a movie. "Children, come look at the books, you can be on the computer or watch a movie when we're home." She was ignored, the shouting continued and she went to the computer to give instructions about how to use the mouse and find a book they could watch and listen to. The mother left again, the children unsupervised, another dispute arose, the shouting began.

An older lady working at a nearby table began to glare and finally said something to the mother. "Children, this library has no children's room, you must be more quiet. If there's one more complaint, we'll have to leave." She wandered off, the children were quieter . . . for a while. Another complaint from the old lady. "Children, off the computer RIGHT NOW. That old lady is complaining again. Let's find some books to check out and leave." Three of the children listened, left the computer station with their mom, however the toddler remained, trying on the headphones, playing with the mouse, tugging on cords.

CRASH! The entire computer station tumbled to the floor. The old lady and I looked up, the mother came over, the old lady headed for the librarian's desk. "Baby, baby, are you all right? Are you hurt? Are you sure you're ok?" The librarian arrived. "I can't believe this computer is not bolted down. It's very unsafe, my child could have gotten hurt." The librarian asked if the child had pulled on the equipment. "Well, perhaps, but children do that sort of thing. This library is not safe at all." They went to another section of the library although you could still pinpoint their location based on the noise.

The old lady caught my eye and beckoned me over to her table. "I can't believe that! She was not paying attention at all to what her children were doing. I tell you, I don't want to be alive when those children become adults, especially if they become elected officials."

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