Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Story Time

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Story Time

It's hotter than hades in my office, but I feel like writing anyway.

We were invited to attend story time at the library this morning. Despite my soaring level of personal stress and finding I required some sort of personal coach/event planner/engineer to draw up some sort of schematic to attack my jam-packed day, I said yes. I loaded Erik into the Jeep and hastily tossed him a mozzarella cheese stick for his morning snack, which instantly went flaccid from the heat of his chubby fist and the morning sun. We met up with Kathy, Dominick, and Baby Cecilia and formed an SUV convoy to the public library, a gorgeous new building that reminded me a bit too much of the children's hospital in Portland. After I shook off the surprise wave of nausea and dread, we entered a large, mostly empty room in which a few neat rows of metal chairs sat before an easel and a low table displaying three children's books about the ocean. We chose seats in the front row, and I perched Erik on my lap. He was silent as he soaked in his new surroundings and watched small groups of children and their parents enter the room and surround us. Babies fussed and toddlers expertly ignored their half-caring mothers, defiantly exploring the room. A woman with a sassy, short coif and bright, citrus-colored shirt sat down beside the easel. Kathy handed me a song sheet she picked up at the door.

A booming voice came out of this woman's little body, and Erik and I twitched with surprise. Erik was alarmed but did his best to remain calm and cool. I looked at his face, and his eyes were wide. His body stiffened, but he was obviously already intrigued by this person. She introduced herself, telling us it was extremely important that the parents participate to set a good example for our children. She then confidently inserted her hand up the backside of a very fluffy sheepdog puppet named Winston. Amazingly, Winston's voice took us to the next decibel level. Baby Cecilia, cozy in her car seat basket, did not react in the slightest, and I smiled at my very own bottomless supply of amazement in situations like these. Erik has a weakness for all animals, especially the stuffed variety, and a faint trace of a smile flickered briefly on his lips. We sang a couple opening songs, one about the ocean's creatures and one about keeping our pie holes shut and listening to the stories about to be told, and then the woman began to read the books on display. Kathy said she had some sort of degree in story telling, and she was indeed amazing.

Between books we sang more songs, including the one about staying quiet. I found these books were a refreshing change from Erik's favorites at home about various trucks, cars, and construction equipment. Even old Fireman Small, driving slowly back to the firehouse after saving the house on the corner of Church and Summer streets, is getting on my last nerve. Cocky, glory-hungry bastard. I relaxed, knowing my cell phone was silenced in the depths of my purse and that work could and would wait. Erik was mostly expressionless and silent, but his hands twitched and he briefly patted his torso when we sang, "If You're Happy and You Know It." At last. One flicker of recognition.

At the end of the session we were invited to play with an impressive selection of soft, surprisingly sterile-looking puppets shaped like colorful fish, crustaceans, and whales. I found myself fantasizing about having a Red Lobster in town. Winston the sheepdog made another appearance on the distal end of the story teller's overly enthusiastic limb, and I quickly took Erik up before the other children were able to organize and make their way up to the front of the room. Winston asked for a hug in his booming voice, and Erik smiled one slightly crooked, genuine smile. His blond head tilted slightly to the side to accept the large puppet into his personal space, and his arm very cautiously encircled the dog.

We then toured the children's library, and Kathy and I read a couple books to the boys. Erik's was about trucks, of course. I successfully kept Erik from stroller jacking another family of strangers on our way out, and we reluctantly went our separate ways after Dominick and Erik hugged and waved to each other in the parking lot.

It only took five minutes before my cell phone began ringing. As I picked it up, I sighed and imagined myself with Kathy, drinking wine in the sun all afternoon and watching the boys play.

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Blogger THE PASLAY'S OF IDAHO said...



8:15 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

Maybe i should take the time to step outside my comfort zone and go to the dreaded STORY TIME!
After reading your experience i am less fearfull... i think.
I will proceed with caution!

7:09 PM  
Blogger Rosemarie said...

"Even old Fireman Small, driving slowly back to the firehouse after saving the house on the corner of Church and Summer streets, is getting on my last nerve. Cocky, glory-hungry bastard."

This was by far the best humor I've read here! Though I suspect you have more to tell. =) Keep it comin'!

I remember bringing Julia to the Library a year ago for a session of toddler time in Connecticut. She wore a teddy bear nametag! In addition, at the completion of the program, each child received a certificate and a packet of songs that were sang.

You and Erik are exploring, but cautiously, which is perfectly understandable. You’re both doing great!

8:02 AM  
Blogger Kerry said...

Brady and I went to storytime last year and it was not the experience I had with Michael... I met my best friend there nine years ago, but this time the women were weirdos and the kids were way too old for Brady to have any friendship with. Sigh... maybe next fall....

6:56 PM  

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