“Good morning mama!” I hear Oscar chirp, feet padding on the carpet. His hair is still rumpled with sleep. I put my coffee down and open my arms for a hug.
“Hello! Did you have good sleep?” He snuggles into my shoulder.
“Yes! It morning mama! The sun is up! We go libirdy today?” There is nothing on our agenda until evening.
He cheers and runs off. As we eat breakfast, his excitement at getting to go to the library is palpable. I remember how excited I would get as a child to go to the library. We went weekly to the big one in town, fifteen minutes away. The one with the carpet-covered cubes and wide, curving window seat. I would pull countless books from the shelves and perch, reading until it was time to go home. My bag would be laden with books, and a week later, we would do it all over again.
When we get to the library, we’re just in time for storytime. We watch as toddlers and preschoolers file into the room. When we go to join, Oscar stops me.
“No ‘tory time today mama. Want read books. Play train.” He runs quickly down an aisle of picture books until he sees a one that catches his eye. The plastic around it crackles as he pulls it out and hands it to me.
“Sit down! Read to you? Please?” I grin at his mixed up pronouns. Sitting down, I open the book. He’s found a “Pete the Cat” version of “Five Little Ducks.” He climbs into my lap and I start reading.
“Five little ducks went out one day, with one cool cat leading the way,” I read, turning it into a song. Oscar leans in and reaches for the book page, slick with ink. It whispers as he turns to the next page and I continue, singing a familiar tale, with a twist.
By the last page, Oscar joins in, “Five little ducks went out one day, with one cool ‘tat leading the way,” his voice sing-song and near a whisper. He closes the book with a crackle of plastic and adds it to the bag we’ve brought to fill with books.
Looking up, I see that we have a small audience of preschool-aged kids, sitting rapt. Their mothers see me and hustle them away and Oscar and I are once again, alone. He reaches back to the shelf and puts a few more books into our bag. He reminds me so much of me, so eager to fill his book bag to the brim.
Once our bag is full, it’s time to play, and Oscar is off and running to the play area on the children’s floor. It’s a train, and he waits patiently before the librarian’s desk for me to join him. We head inside where he picks up a stack of paper train tickets lying beside the toy cash register. I pick up plastic coins to buy a ticket, and we start making up stories about the places depicted on the tickets. One has a picture of the Alamo on it and he tells his own story about it, making it into a stone house filled with people who have a farm. I let his imagination run wild as he talks.
Eventually he moves on to the magnetic wall, covered in letters and simple words. We rearrange the letters over and over, talking about their names and sounds before once again settling in for another book, found perched on the ledge beside us. We read all about “The Little Engine That Could,” and by the end of the book he’s whispering “I think I can I think I can I think I can,” along with me. He’s found another world among the shelves to add to his imagination.
I hear his stomach grumble. It’s been two quick hours since we arrived and it’s lunch time. Before I can say anything, he catches my eye.
“Mama, check out? Go home?” he asks, walking to the exit of the train.
“That’s a great idea, buddy!” I follow him to the self-check out and scan our card. Immediately he reaches out and starts stacking our books onto the black pad and we watch as they pop up on the screen, checked out and ready to go home. Our receipt prints as I refill our library bag, and Oscar snatches it up and heads to the elevator.
“Bye library!” he calls, pressing the button to go down, “Bye!”
In a week we will return for more books, more play, and more fun. Neither of us can wait.