Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The One With the 5-Year-Old's Question

Working in a library, I come into contact with a lot of kids. Quiet kids, loud kids, sweet kids, obnoxious kids. . .they're everywhere, these kids. My least favorite are the ones who scream and scream and scream when their parents have repeatedly told them to STFU. (These kids differ from the ones whose parents just let them run wild and ignore them. When this is the case, it's 25% disdain for the kid and 75% for the parent. But if they're ignoring their instructions? I can't stand those kids.)

Then there are kids like the 6- or 7-year-old boy who brought his own library card (signed in his own handwriting) and his books to the front desk all by himself to check out his books. I love kids like that, because they're so excited, and so polite, and very nice.

Today, though, I came across a kid who turned out to be perfectly fine (his brother, on the other hand, I wanted to slap, as he was screaming and crying and trying to twist out of his mother's grasp while yelling, "I'M NOT MISBEHAVING! I AM BEHAVING! I AM NOT MISBEHAVING!!!." Um, yes you are.) but who I swear took 10 years off my life.

Anyway, this kid is quietly standing beside his mother and horrible brother, just hanging out. He was about 5. I finish checking his mother's books out, and she turns with her younger, horrible Hell Beast to leave. The kid walks up to the counter (which, by him standing on his toes and stretching his neck out, he was just barely able to see over) and says to me, "Can I tell you something?"

My stomach Hit. The. Floor. There was no real reason for it, but I imagined it ending horribly. I expected him to say something like:

A) "Daddy says that Barack Obama is a Goddamn Communist Prick who is driving the economy into the ground. What does 'economy' mean?"

B) "Mommy drinks out of a big bottle every night until she falls asleep on the floor. When she falls asleep, me and my brother eat pie filling with a spork. Also, I like to play with matches. They're pretty."

C) "Mommy and Daddy yell at each other a lot."

D) "You've got a big black thing stuck in your teeth. What's that?"


E) "I just found out where babies come from! Wanna hear? Mommy says every lady has a vagina. Do YOU have a vagina?"

I panicked briefly, but said, "Sure. What do you want to tell me?"

He blinked his big, blue eyes at me, thought for a second, and said:

"What's that box of rubber bands for?"

I hope I didn't audibly breathe a sigh of relief, because I felt like I let out a giant breath I'd been holding. I wasn't going to have to hear something horrible, or get social services involved, or anything like that. I DID want to slap his mother and say, "You need to teach your kid that 'telling someone something' and 'asking someone a question' are NOT THE SAME THING, and you just FREAKED ME OUT."

But it was just an innocuous question that I knew exactly how to respond to.

(If you're wondering, when you have a book on hold, we put a piece of paper with your name on it on the side and rubber band it to the book. Once the person picks up their book, there's a container for them to drop the rubber bands in so we can reuse them.)

I'm just damn grateful that I didn't have to hear about his mother's vagina.


  1. I shudder to think what my kids are telling their teachers at school. One of my friends is a teacher, and she tells me they just come on in with their loose lips and tell it all.

    I agree--the vajayjay talk would have been most uncomfortable for you. Crisis averted.

  2. LMFAO! I love the thoughts that went through your mind!