When you were little, you played with toys or followed close to me gripping me by the leg, my mother said of me. When K was little, he didn’t walk, he ran- everywhere. Up the stairs and down the stairs, into the alleyways, neighbor’s homes to steal a shoe, bring a frog as a gift for his grandmother, said K’s aunts, uncles, and mother.
In addition to K’s metabolism, it appears my son has taken after his father here too.
Let me be the first to say that watching my son waddle over to me like a penguin squealing with a wooden spoon in his hand is the cutest. thing. ever. But outside the confines of our house? Sigh. Today was my first solo-venture out into the world with my newly walking child. Library story-time, a fairly safe environment for chaos as all the children are waddling around babbling like a convention of slightly confused zombies. In story times past, he stuck close to me but now? He made a beeline for a set of keys [not mine]. Toys [not ours] which he then tried sticking into the mouth of a fellow child [said child obliged by opening wide] and then? His jaw dropped as he noticed the books- shelves of books- rife for the yanking and tossing. Which he did. With me close behind. Sticking them back in. As he pulled more out. And while asking him to stop works at home [though lately more finicky a challenge than before] here? He just looked at me like I was speaking Swahili and went on his business.
At the self-check-out, balancing both the ten children’s books I needed to place one at a time on the scanner and my nineteen pound child proved difficult so I set him on the ground for a second. Which he took full advantage of by zooming for the DVDs, flinging each one-by-one and then looking back with a proud grin like he just cured world hunger. I tried checking out as quickly as possible, put the fallen items back in their place under the disapproving gaze of a very sour librarian, and headed out, when we heard beep.
Without even giving me a chance to turn around, the librarian screamed for me to stop like I was walking out with classified government secrets. Must be the DVD you stuck in your bag, she said. Yep, I wanted to say, its a mother-son operation. I pretend to check out, he distracts by flinging DVDs, and then, we swipe obscure DVDs on the mating habits of penguins! Come on. Really? It turned out one of the books didn’t scan, needing manual entry, and in my distraction, I didn’t notice. So she gave me the book to manually enter at the self scanner [though between you and me, she could have kindly just checked it out for me!] and so I set him down, he bee-lined for the DVDs- and we rinsed and repeated.
We’re home now. And while he’s as perky as a bunny on ten cups of coffee, me? I need a nap. I thought I had at least a couple more weeks before toddlerhood began?
Seriously, as parents of fully mobile children, how do you balance their desire for independence with the desire to not have to be seen as sticky fingers by your local librarian? How do you encourage curiosity, keep from buying all broken inventory due to said curiosity, and leave the house before your child is eighteen years old?