May 21, 2007

The Kid Gets Library Card, Signs Name, Holy Crap


We've been reading a lot of Thank You Bear the last couple of weeks, and I have to say, it's just great. It's beautiful, it feels great to read it, and the kid loves it. The MBA in me sees it as a powerful touchstone for geniuses who have to go through life surrounded by knuckleheads.


But the kid in me is reminded of something else, a book of my mother's I read to pieces: Ruth Krauss & Crockett Johnson's The Carrot Seed. When we went to the library to look it up, I was blown away; the similarities, which were even greater than I remembered. Johnson's expressive yet spare/bare illustrations and Krauss's quietly confident protagonist are both echoed in Greg Foley's book [though I have to admit, I like Foley's art better, and his story feels more realistic.]

The kid took to it immediately, so much that she wanted to bring the book home. We'd never done that before; the library's just across the street, why take anything home? But she knew somehow that pocket in the book meant she could check it out if she put her library card in it [something she learned at that confounded school of hers? free-thinkers...]

Well, she marched right over to the desk and asked for a library card, please, and the librarian looks at me to see who's in charge, and I shrug--clearly, my vast parental power doesn't extend beyond the crosswalk--and so she hands me a form to fill out.

"Can we put the card in her name?" I ask.

"Sure, she just has to sign it," as if three-year-olds sign official government documents every day.

"You can help her, hold her hand, but she she needs to sign it herself," as if the DC government actually requires the signature of a three-year-old.

Well, the kid's not letting me hold her hand, no way no how, "I can do it all. by. my. self."

And damned if she didn't leave a string of letter-shaped objects that are at least mappable back to the entry on the top of the form I filled out.

The kid getting her own frequent flyer number didn't faze me [though her getting Premier status on United and her own upgrade coupons did make the ex-road warrior in me blush with pride a bit]. But for some reason, watching her sign for her own library card feels really momentous and freaked me out.

She's growing up so fast, and there's nothing I can do about it; I mean, if I'd ever imagine this situation would've come up so quickly, I'd have lobbied to give her a much longer name.

Buy Thank You Bear at Amazon [amazon]
Previously: Bowie, Lagerfeld, Stipe, Daddy Types, love Thank You Bear


i don't think it is just the DC government, that was how it worked in the little town I grew up in, you could have a library card once you learned to write your name. I remember working on it for just that purpose.

I'm about 1/2 a year behind you, but, yeah, I've always been totally amazed at how my daughter can learn stuff well before I thought possible...

Although, for some reason, she's working hard to avoid learning her letters...

The Vancouver Public Library (motto: you may have see us in Battlestar Galactica) actually suggests that children get their own library card instead of their parents checking out books for them. The cards are signature-less, so no signing issue.

The bonus is that any book checked out with a child's card is not subject to overdue fines, ostensibly so that older kids can enjoy reading without penalty of late fees, but it also works great for "Damn, it's raining... no way we're walking 10 blocks in this weather today!" situations as well...

[battlestar galactica?? brb. OK, I'm back. the kid's card is actually the same as the supermarket club card. I even got the keychain-sized one as a backup. It provided a nice chance to learn about bar codes, which she points out everywhere now. -ed.]

Ours are a lot like supermarket club cards as well, meaning that I've lost mine and have to resort to using my phone number at the check out counter, just like I do at Safeway to get my discount.

BTW, the library kind of fit the whole Battlestar Galactica Greek-god aesthetic... I'm sure some viewers probably thought it was computer graphic generated. (We need *some* kind of bragging rights about our library considering that the coolest public library in North America is just a couple hours south of us in Seattle... )

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