We girded our loins and visited the library last weekend.

These days, our trips to library include 2 strollers, 3 bags, 6 library cards, 2 adults and $0.50 worth of change.

On Saturday it also included a change of clothes for Gemma, at least 7 trips to the bathroom and a race to get home before we would have to use said change of clothes.

It’s always a crap shoot with Gemma.  How dare we attempt to confine her to the stroller when there is so much to explore and why should she be quiet when she has voice and knows how to use it?  It can be exhausting and I find myself holding my breath, praying that I don’t get a scolding from a librarian or dirty looks from a patron before we can get us and all of our books in and back out and she runs out of nice.

Saturday, she figured out that requesting the bathroom meant freedom from the stroller.  Gleefully she watched the birds in their cage, stooping to get a closer look then trotting circles around them until they all flew up to their perches.  The stacks called my name – I had books to find and her siblings to help and time on the meter.

“Demma pay!” she told me, moving off towards the tables of toys.  “No.  We don’t have time to play. This is the LIBRARY.  You can play at home.” These thoughts nearly spilled from my lips.  I saw her hesitate in her path and look back at me and then I actually saw her.

I bit my tongue and let her play.

I watched her carefully thread beads on wires, concentrating and absolutely full of joy and realized how much she misses out.  She is surrounded by bigger people and bigger things and her days are filled with “Nos” and “Hurry Ups” and “Get Downs.” Everyone else moves faster and with more importance and she doesn’t often get the time to soak up experiences.  Maybe she wouldn’t grasp and claw and end up on counters if we just gave her some time.

And maybe we’re missing out by hurrying her along.

She stayed at the beads much longer than I expected but when she was done, she was off like a rocket, running through the stacks.  I jogged after her, just sure that she was off to the stairs or the water fountain. Instead, she was in the middle of the shelves, ducked down and waiting for me to find her.  She lit up with a smile and squealed in delight.

“Find me mama!” she yelled.

I think I have, lovey.  I think I have.