Ok, so I wasn’t going to blog about this. I was just going to let it go…after I put it on facebook. Once I did that, I got such an overwhelming response from family and friends that I decided I needed to jump outside my comfort zone and take action.
It’s not technically a topic I would normally cover here…then again, it does pertain to the educational path we are on and the resources available in our community.
Here’s the story.
Last week, when we were at the library checking out, Jake, my tired and hungry almost-2-year-old, was crying and an older woman, who was on her way out, shushed him, got in his face and rather meanly told him he was at the library and shouldn’t scream and cry because it was rude. Did I mention he is only 2?
Then, outside the library, she waited for me and lectured me on how they can’t act that way at the library and I need to make them stop. I was so shocked. Hadn’t she seen me correct them? Hadn’t she heard me tell them to quiet down? I was frazzled and I couldn’t think of what to say so I just glared at her and apologized kind of meanly.
This week, the same lady accosted us as we were walking out of the library. The same one! We were going through the double doors to the outside and Jake started crying and she said. “Shh! You can’t do that here. It’s rude!”
My response: We are not in the library anymore so they are not being rude. You are.
Then I walked away.
The response I got from friends and family from this post ranged from shock to outrage. I felt better about how I had handled the situation after reading all of the comments. And comments I got…42 and counting. Some of them from friends who also attend the library and have had similar bad experiences, but not just with patrons, with staff.
I too have had problems with staff rudeness. Namely, from the librarian in charge of the children’s library. She regularly shushes, glares and follows my kids around waiting for them to do something wrong.
The children’s room is a separate area from the main library, with a door that can be closed. I assume this is because kids are learning and need to be taught how to behave at the library…we aren’t born with this knowledge. We don’t come out of the womb thinking…I must be quiet and respectful of others at the library. We have to be taught…something that can only be done through experience and guidance from parents and other adults.
I am trying to do this. I am trying to guide my boys and model respectful behaviour and expose them to different environments and experiences so that they learn. I want them to love the library and I am afraid, that due to the staff and patrons, they will learn to hate it.
Honestly, I didn’t want to go back after the patron verbally attacked my kids and my parenting skills…but what would that teach the boys? To back down from a bully? Because, that is what she is…a bully.
So what am I doing about it? I’m using it as a teaching moment. One to model for the boys a respectful response to rudeness. I’m proud of myself for “keeping my cool” and not shouting at the woman. But I’m less proud that the boys have seen Wwwme stand by, on multiple occasions, while the librarian is rude, unpleasant and all-around mean.
What does that tell them? That Mommy won’t stand up for them? That they are “bad boys” who need to be scolded at every turn while trying to learn how to behave? A librarian is in a position of authority and should not use said position to turn present and future taxpayers away from a place of learning and wonder.
So, in addition to what I am already teaching the boys about behaving at the library, I checked out a book. Manners at the Library. It’s a great book that constructively teaches kids how to behave giving reasons and examples. It’s not one page that says “It’s rude to be loud and cry”.
My kids are 3 and almost 2 and, like all children, they are not robots to be controlled. They are little people who want to learn and do what is right, but they need to be taught, not belittled.
They also need to be taught how to stand up for themselves and have confidence in a constructive and respectful way–a lesson in preparedness for dealing with not-so-nice people. For that matter, maybe I need a lesson in confidence too.
So, I’m stepping outside my comfort zone. I’m writing a letter to the head librarian detailing my concerns about the children’s librarian. I’m citing examples of friends who now go to a different library because of her.
I’m standing up for my children and for myself.
Sure, I could just go to a different branch and maybe I will in the end, but this branch is too nice of a resource to let a few bad apples ruin it for everyone.
Perhaps, when I return the manners book to the library, I’ll suggest it to the children’s librarian as well as the rude patron. Seems like they could use a refresher.