Friday, March 05, 2010

Unsolicited Advice

At the library sale today:

Elderly Volunteer: (To Danny) There are children's books over here, wouldn't you like something to read?

Danny: No thank you.

Elderly Volunteer: (To me) You really should read to your children, so they are ready to learn when they get to school. It's very important for children to be read to.

She was so earnest I didn't have the heart to say anything mean, much less muster any good sarcastic zingers. I mean really, I was at a library sale. I had a full-sized atlas in each arm. What's so strange is that momentarily (it passed quickly) I felt the desire to defend Danny's lack of interest. I wanted to tell he I live in a house with many thousands of books. Like that somehow makes me a better person. I ought to be ashamed of my reaction, not her comments.


Raymond said...

Wow, I applaud your restraint. I would probably have wanted Danny to quote something far beyond "Dick and Jane." Imagine if he had told the lady about chess as a metaphor for life and death and all that.

And this reminds me of a childhood library moment that irritates me to this day. I might have been 8 or so years old at the school library, quite possibly younger. I had seen a scientific book about "Motion." The cover had a stroboscopic photo of those steel balls on strings that bang into each other and transfer their energy to the one on the other side making it fly out. You know. Anyway, the title and the image intrigued me. "Hm, this book might teach me something scientific about why those steel balls do that, and "why" things move." I was quite intrigued that there is "science" behind all that. I remember reading the book cover summary and being interested. So I took the book off the shelf to check it out. The librarian saw me holding this book and took it from my hands and told me, "Oh no, that book is for older kids. The children's books are over here." And she gently pushed my back toward the "Dick and Jane" section. Bitch. I still don't forgive her for that.

Goody said...

The same thing happened to Mr. ETB at around the same age-and it still bugs him as well.

Seriously, so what if it is above the child's reading level? It isn't like you were trying to check out Fanny Hill to look for all the naughty parts. It was a science book.

I must have been terribly lucky-our librarian was bringing in books for me and getting me passes to cut out of last period to see films at the art house cinema. I can imagine how well THAT would go over today.

I was a *little* sorry that Danny didn't start telling her how much he enjoys reading The Magic Mountain (he now sleeps with the damn book-that's how I know he likes a book, it ends up in bed next to Spider Man and his Matchbox cars).

Goody said...

The thing that really annoys me is the condescension. You know, like the "boob brigade" that confront women purchasing baby formula to tell them what horrible mothers they are for not offering the magical tit juice. There's this idea that anyone, anywhere is fair game, so long as it can be wrapped in the, "I was only trying to (re)educate you about better choices." I swear to god, how do people get to the point where that EVER seems appropriate to say, much less to a stranger?

Me thinks it is just the socially acceptable form of bullying in the 21st century.