Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Which Way to the Casbah?

I have found that I try to simplify my life as much as possible. That way I don’t really have to think too much about those small daily things I need to do to keep the house running smoothly. If I do have to run errands during the day, I find I plan the route out in my head before leaving the house. First, I try to only make right hand turns into and out of shopping centers. This way I don’t have to go across traffic to get to my destination. You may think this sounds crazy, but here in South Florida people just wait for me to cross their path before speeding up and cutting me off.

I set off to run the errands and I do it in a circular trip. Dry cleaners, post office, gas station, department store, and office supply store. I try to go full circle ending up at the grocery before heading home. Most days this works perfect. But throw in the occasional stop at the library and it can really screw up the day. That means I have to do a u-turn, God forbid, and its right outside the local community college. After waiting a half hour to let everyone go that’s making a turn in front of me, I gather up the courage to make the turn. I feel like an adventurer taking her life into her own hands as she climbs Mt Everest.

I pull into the lot at the library that is full today as it’s ‘Bring your Kids to Story Hour”. I tuck my Jeep Wrangler (that’s right, soft top Wrangler) into a space in the grass at the back of the property. It may not be an actual parking place, but it’s away from the throngs of Mothers and children making their way into the facility.

My kids grew up in the library. Thank God for Monday, Wednesday and Friday story time. But I don’t remember them running around and screaming during story hour. As I scan the shelves looking for the latest Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts or Kristan Hannah, I notice this one kid who is making a nuisance of himself.

I hear the same name over and over.

“Evan, stop running.” The mother starts quietly enough while she sips her bottle of Pellegrino water.

Evan’s screams go up a notch.

“Is that how we behave in the library?” By now the whole library is glancing in her direction. She just shrugs and takes another sip.

“Evan, I’m going to count.”

I never got this counting thing. Numbers just don’t scare me. My kids would actually count along with me when they were young. I could hear them counting as they made their way to their room. In front of me, one, two, three, up the steps, four, five, six, bedroom doors slams and I’d hear them scream seven, eight, nine.

“One, two...Evan, I’m serious...three.”

Evan has now run over to the new release table. He stares down his mother as a smile, which looks noticeably like the one the kid that played Damien in the Omen wore, crosses his face. He sweeps his arm across and knocks the books to the floor. Mom takes a sip and calmly says, “That’s it, Evan. No trip to the toy store after story time.”

Evan doesn’t care, his mother hasn’t made a move to get up and stop the boy’s bad behavior. She has turned her back on him and sits listening to the girl reading the book to the other children who are actually behaving. Evan stops momentarily. We all hold our breath. Could it be by ignoring the boy maybe he will go sit and listen with the other children? Suddenly, the boy screams. A loud ear splitting scream that echoes through the book stacks. The girl stops reading and glances at the mother. The librarian walks over and asks the mother to please quiet the child as it is a library and others are trying to concentrate. Then the mother does something I’ll never forget. She grabs her bag and water as if she’s been insulted and walks over to her son, taking him by the hand. “Come on, Evan. Let’s go to the toy store. At least there they’ll let you be a kid.”

Was there a lesson there somewhere? If you behave badly and are called on the behavior you get a present?

I get my books and as I check out I smile at the librarian. “It can’t be easy,” I say.

“That’s nothing, she’ll be back next week and we’ll go through the same thing.”

I nod, commiserating with the woman. Everyone has to deal with his or her own routines and the problems it entails.

I get back into the car and head to the grocery. I go in, shop for the same things I buy every week, salad, turkey, sunflower seeds, salad dressing and crackers. My husband comes home for lunch every day and his menu has been set for years. I check out and as the bag boy puts my items into the plastic bags I remember that I have reusable bags in the car. The cashier notices that I have a pair of reading glasses on my face and another pair pushed up on my head. I thought the ones on my head were sunglasses, but I’d left them in the car. I get in my car and head home. As I enter, I am happy to have once more been out in the world and made it safely back in the quiet of my own personal sanctuary.

And with no left turns.

It’s the little things that keep me happy.

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