Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Filling out their applications
September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month.

And although their Mommy and I, of course, already have library cards to check out books for them, it suddenly occurred to me, as I zoomed past the sign placed strategically along the human conveyor belt in the airport (really excellent captive audience marketing opportunity, FYI), that they didn't have their own.

And I really remember very fondly getting my first library card. Actually, I can't tell you when it was, or how old I was, or what color it was, or even what library it was. Ok, so maybe fondly was a little too generous of a term, but it is a very warm fuzzy that remains with me to this day.

Because I do remember distinctly thinking at the time that it felt like it meant more than money.

Signing his library card
Only it was a currency, just one that I couldn't understand or explain at the time.  There was a power there that I've never ever been able to replicate.  Because there's an intrinsic strength not just in having access to knowledge, which is obvious, but in the autonomy that comes with walking up and down the aisles, touching and flipping through pages, completely unencumbered, of any book, on any topic, imagined or real or otherwise.

There's an unexpected and delightful sense of self-sufficiency -- feeding your own soul, fulfilling your own curiosities, being able to satisfy your own wants and needs.

Then there's the sense of self-governance -- what am I ready for? what is outside of my reading level? what are my emotional capabilities? where am I in my social development?  And the subsequent delicious sense of self-anarchy in the independence and liberation that allow you to begin to define and push your own boundaries, question authority, find and develop your own identity.

And finally, there's that sudden and glorious sense of emancipation...from everyone...everywhere...all the time...telling you exactly what you should be digesting and when.

And, my God...

It. Was. Just. Revelatory. For. Me.

Signing her library card
And best of all, it's free. It's all yours. And it's completely impartial in its dissemination and endowment of power.

And as parents, we typically spend a good 18 years (or more) striving moment to moment to be able to recapture that feeling from our own youth. To bottle it up and pass it on. To not break our kids' spirits and sense of wonder and adventure and inquisitiveness.  To be THE ones who fill our children with all the knowledge they'll ever need and turbo boost their self-worth.  To mold and build them exclusively into the little people we had all those oh-so-high-hopes they could and would someday become. And then, at some point, we stop being so completely narcissistic and learn to let go...a little. (Right?)

But, like most unanswered prayers, it's so often exactly the way it was always meant to be.  And so, what you thought was just a little 2 x 3 piece of plastic, suddenly becomes in the hand of child, a time machine, a magic wand, a tunnel to China, a sword, a pirate ship, a rabbit hole, a monster in the closet, under the bed, inside themselves...

And the words "nothing is impossible" suddenly begin to make crystal clear perfect sense.

Using their own library cards for the first time

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