I Survived My First Trip To Storytime With My Kids

In the end, the only person I talked to was the librarian (why didn't I talk to book mom?!) who I apologized to for Levi's meltdown. She assured me it wasn't a big deal, that it happens to all the kids, and I shouldn't worry about it. Of course I did, and still do, but I feel a little better.
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three kids reading a book
three kids reading a book

We've recently moved and if my circle of friends was small before this move it is minuscule now. I really only have two close mom friends. One in Colorado and one in Idaho. I have a handful of close friends but I don't see them often because I can't drive (poor eyesight -- this is important to the story) and the drive is a bit much for my closer in proximity friends to come up.

Instead of sitting around with my two toddlers all damn day, every day, I've decided in 2016 I will go and make mom friends. I will seek them out and drug them and drag them back to my lair where I will force them to drink coffee with me.

Points for honesty?

And how does one make mom friends, you ask? In my mind, they find them by going and doing kid-related shit you don't want to do. I could live a blissful existence spending most hours of my days by myself but kids aren't down with that plan. Additionally, my daughter is so social and so badly wants other kids to play with and it breaks my heart so, damnit, I will venture forth into the world and meet people.


So today we went to story time at the local library and it was a bit of a shit show. I'll start from the beginning.

I checked the web site and story time began at 10:00 a.m. I am an annoyingly punctual person and believe something one of my high school teachers pounded into my head: "If you're early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late." I do my best to always be 15 minutes early to any and every event because I'm terrified of being late and missing out or being a distraction or causing a commotion.

I immersed the children in head-to-toe rain gear because it's raining because we live in the Pacific Northwest and OF COURSE IT IS. Remember how I don't drive? That means we have to walk 7 blocks in the rain to the library. Seven blocks isn't that bad of a walk -- even with two toddlers in tow -- but in the rain it sucks. They were amused for a bit by the water falling from the sky and the puddles but after about three blocks we were all over it.

But we pressed on.

Despite whining and hand holding and, "Please walk faster!" said a million times, the library was in sight. The beacon of warmth and light and hope for future friendships. We all got a little more pep in our step and headed to the front door only to find it locked.

The library doesn't open until 10.

The same time that story time begins.

It is 9:46.

A very kind lady peeks her head out the door and says, "Hi guys! We don't open until 10."

"Oh okay. Story time is today, though, right?"

"Yes, at 10. So in about 15 minutes."

"Okay. Great." Not great. You're really going to leave us out here?

"Did you guys walk here?" My kids look like drowned rats. What do you think?

"Yep." Glimmer of hope...

"Well it looks like you've got some cool rain boots! See you guys in a few minutes!" And the hope dies.

I spend 15 minutes trying to entertain my kids in 45-degree wet weather. We sing songs, they whine, we run up and down the ramp, more whining.

"I know you're cold, honey. I'm cold, too. No, it's not time to in yet. Just a few more minutes. Hey, look, a squirrel! Yes, I wanna go inside too. It's not time yet..."

Another group of children show up at precisely 10 and FINALLY we are allowed entrance and all of us begin to thaw.

We follow the gaggle of kids upstairs to the children's area. There are chairs around a large alphabet-dredged carpet and I urge the kids to take a seat. They're cool. They like it. They're just sitting there next to each other watching more kids wander in and get name tags and I find a spot on the floor opposite of them so I can watch. Another mom sits next to me and opens a book and I think, "Damnit! Why didn't I bring a book?!"

Before the whole thing starts the kids migrate towards me. Lily takes a seat in one of the chairs and Levi sits in my lap. Soon the stupid thing starts. There's a song. My kids look at the librarian and at me as if to say, "What are we supposed to do? Are we having fun? Is this what fun is like?"

They start to get the hang of things and begin doing the hand clapping, stomping thing everyone else is doing. I breathe a sigh of relief. This is going to be good.

The librarian pulls out the story to read. Penguins! It has penguins on it! My kids are excited because they are related to me and therefore love penguins which is an excuse I use for some of our Christmas decor still being around the house.

She gets about three pages in before Lillian tells me she has to go potty. Of course she does. And, since she does, Levi has to pee also. So I ask the book-reading mom next to me where the bathroom is and we head over to the other side of the room. "Hidden" behind a shelf of books is the other half of the small room which has paints and crayons and crap on tables because after the story will be an art project.

I would say this was the beginning of the end.

I wrangle the kids into the tiny bathroom where they fight over who gets to go pee first, exclaim that the water is too hot, they didn't get enough soap to wash their hands, and attempt to open the door while I myself am sitting on the toilet because, hey, I'm here so why not.

We begin our trek back to the neon carpet but Levi isn't having any of that.

"I want to color!" he screams.

And screams and whines.

And whines and screams about how he wants to color some more.

For, like, forever it seems this happens.

Lils eventually gets bored with Levi's charade and heads back to the carpet while I become that mom in the corner trying to console her son in the loudest whisper imaginable.

"Levi, I know you want to color. We're going to get to color after story time is over. You just need to wait."

Cry, whine, scream, repeat.

I'm sure the whole thing lasted less than five minutes but it felt like a fucking eternity. Everyone can hear him and everyone can hear me and in the name of all that is holy, son, please just stop.

Somehow, by some miracle, I get him to calm down and head back to the carpet.

Okay that's a lie. I didn't do anything. He just sniffled and said, "Where Lily?" and goes off to find his sister.

I remain on the floor trying not to cry because this is our first time here and I feel like a shitty mom and my clothes are damp and this is dumb and I hate everything.

I take a deep breath, regroup, and head back to the carpet.

Now everyone has scarves that they're tossing and swinging around to some song but we were all in the bathroom so we have no scarves and damn if that just doesn't make my kids sadder than a snowman in Florida. Somehow Lillian acquires one that was on the floor but Levi has nothing and begins to whine some more until book-mom goes behind the singing, scarf-wielding librarian and retrieves a scarf for him.

Once again they are pacified.

They sing a few more songs and read another story and honestly I must have blocked most of this out from being overwhelmed with how my kids were behaving because I have no recollection of the last 10 minutes of story time. Finally it's arts and craft time! Each kid got to paint ("Mom! We get to paint!") a penguin and glue on eyes and a nose ("Look, Mom, glue! Can I have the glue please please pleeeeaaaase?") and all is well for seven seconds until my kids realize there are now TOYS on the carpet and off they scamper to get into all the things.

I stood in the back and watched and sighed and tried not to cry because I just wanted my kids to have a good time and it's so damn hard to tell because they have the memory and attention span of a rock. I couldn't spend much time feeling sorry for myself before Lils needed help with a puzzle and I headed over to assist. They played with books and cars and crap until it was time to leave and I'd say, in the end, they were happy.

So happy, in fact, that when it was time to go, Lillian began whining and didn't stop whining until we got home.

Seven blocks of whining seems like an appropriate indicator that she had a good time.

In the end, the only person I talked to was the librarian (why didn't I talk to book mom?!) who I apologized to for Levi's meltdown. She assured me it wasn't a big deal, that it happens to all the kids, and I shouldn't worry about it. Of course I did, and still do, but I feel a little better.

Will I go back? Yes. Will I enjoy it? All signs point to no. But next time I vow to say something to someone other than the librarian and maybe, just maybe, make a new friend.

You can find more from Toni Hammer at Is It Bedtime Yet, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

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