We’re sitting in the Gulfport library, now at a table in the children’s section, out of earshot of the librarian. It’s time for my Little to figure out the next step. My Little had brought her library books back, but late, and also some money because some of them were damaged. Last time at the library she excitedly took out 10 books. But then, disaster. She had lost her library card, and no books were read. Her grandma had told her she couldn’t take out a lot of books anymore because she wasn’t being responsible….the books got damaged when they were in the family car, having tumbled out of a paper sack.
The librarian, recognizing a familiar situation with children, had reduced the late charges to only half of what was owed, and said that the damage charges would be waived. The librarian suggested that my nine year old Little could offer to do a chore for me in exchange for my coming up with the money owed to the library. That strategy was often used in her own family when the son needed more money than he had at the moment. The librarian said it was good at an early age to learn the lesson that we are all accountable for our responsibilities.
I suggested that we go sit at a table and sort things out. After a couple of minutes I asked my Little if she wanted to put the money she had brought for the damaged books toward what was owed on library fines. She didn’t answer. There were still three books she wanted to take out again. I waited. She sat and pouted, and wouldn’t answer my questions. She did pull the wallet out and looked at the money. She zipped it back up. Still no answer to my question. I pulled out the computer and started to do some work.
Ten minutes later I asked her again, “How much money did you bring toward the damage?” No answer. She got up and walked away from the table. I said, “Sit down, please”. She did. Then she opened up the wallet and pulled out 36 cents.
When I asked her again if she wanted me to pay the rest of the fines, she nodded her head. I told her I would, but she had to ask me. She said, “Would you do that for me?” I said yes I would, and she smiled. I suggested she call her grandma to ask her how many books were allowed.
Grandma said she could take out only one, not three. Now the angry nine year old shoved the three selected books back onto the library shelf and stormed off to the restroom. I met her near an exit table of free books and selected a couple for myself. I asked her again if she wanted to get a book, and this time she said yes. We left with the prized and now respected single selection. And she remembered by herself to write in her “Adventure Journal”
Sometimes it’s hard to be nine.