How to Behave in a Public Library

By: Sam. Age: 23 Months.

Step 1: Upon entering, return your books! No delinquent status for us! Push them through the slot one a time even though the whole stack would easily fit at once. Watch to make sure that each one makes it all the way down to the book pile at the bottom of the bin before depositing the next one. A line of annoyed, impatient people should form behind you. They can wait, this is your show.


Step 2: Growl or hum at a low yet noticeable volume wherever you go. This is how people will know when you’re coming. Like entrance music.


Step 3: Weave in and out of the ropes marking off the aisles at the front desk. If you happen to knock one over, so be it! Serves them right for putting them at toddler-head-height to begin with.


Step 4: Run everywhere. Giggle and squeal loudly when you see your mom chasing you! And don’t be alarmed by the redness of her face—she won’t hurt you in public!


Step 5: As you run by the self check-out stations, slow down to become mesmerized by the computer screens and neon lights of the scanners—it is okay to temporarily cease your humming at this point as long as you resume as soon as you proceed past them. Graze the palm of your hand along each glass panel, even if a stranger is standing there checking out books. He or she will be glad to see you.


Step 6: Sit quietly in your mom’s lap while you wait for story time to begin. As soon as Mr. Ron sits down in his chair and opens the first book, immediately dive into her bag to see if she brought a snack. If she did, demand to eat it. NOW! If she didn’t, grab as many sticks of gum as you can fit in your hand. Then, put them all in your mouth at once. Chew with your mouth open and grin at everyone who makes eye contact with you.


Step 7: If Mr. Ron picks a book that sounds educational—letters, counting, shapes—go stand at the window to watch the traffic below. Remember to press your sticky fingers on the glass, and breathe heavily onto it. When you see a truck, police car, or ambulance outside, notify everyone in the room. Bonus: If you see a trash truck, yell out “I stink!” repeatedly until your mom acknowledges you.


Step 8: Select one adult in the room and step on his or her fingers. Frequently. Choose someone who looks familiar because that means you’ve probably targeted him/her before.


Step 9: Only participate in the songs which require your mom to pick you up and spin you around. If they sing something childish, like “Shake Your Sillies Out,” return to your spot by the window. Look glum. Make the adults feel sorry for you because, you know, “you’re too young to be this jaded.”


Step 10: If your mom has the audacity to put you in time-out, do as your told, but make sure the world knows you’re angry about it. Slouch. And scowl at anyone who has the nerve to glance in your direction.


Step 11: When you’re told to pick out books, only pick lengthy chapter books. Or those complicated-situation-themed books that are about topics that don’t apply to your family. Like going through a divorce. Or the sudden death of a pet. Or growing up with two mommies. Perhaps migrating to a new country and not knowing the language. All are fun!


Step 12: When it’s time to go, your mom will always choose the self check-out. Press as many buttons on the touch screen as you can! Don’t worry about what they mean—you won’t have time for that because you’re probably on your way to time-out again. Don’t forget to scowl!


Alternate Brother Activity: If Nate—sadly—does not have school and gets to come with you to the library, be sure to include him in your story time antics! Wrestle with him on the floor. Or race him from the back of the room to the very front! Make Mr. Ron remember why Nate’s “on his naughty list.”