Kicked Outta the Kid Section (2024)

Kicked Outta the Kid Section (1)

Illustration by Andrew Gillespie

I am writing this blog from the second floor of the Eugene Public Library. For those who don’t frequent this library I will clarify: I'm in the ADULT section.

I am having an identity crisis.

The library has been my “other home” since I moved to Eugene. We have spent over a decade of autumns collecting buckeyes along 10th avenue on our way from our parking spot to the front doors.

We get free lunches and a free book every summer. My kids have done hundreds of crafts sitting in the little frog and heron chairs. They have built about 549 different castles with the magnetic tiles on the light table, and they’ve attended numerous presentations where they practiced skills such as break dancing and making a sound on a tuba.

When they learned they could play Minecraft on the public computers, that was… well… annoying for lack of a better word. But, whatever, it kept them interested in the library through early adolescence.

Covid REALLY threw off our library game. We never really recovered our library vigor. After the library reopened from it's excruciatingly long Covid hiatus, my kids didn't want to go anymore. And when I do take them, they head for the teen section, grab their Manga Romance, and are ready to be on their way. They have no desire to linger. It doesn’t help that the coffee shop where I always bribed them with bagels is currently inactive.

The teen section is not inviting to adults. Maggie notified me that I really shouldn’t be in there at all. She directed my attention to the signs that say, “Tables and chairs are for teens ages 13 - 19.”

“Fine” I told her defiantly. “I’ll stand.”

I meandered obstinately through the isles while receiving “Seriously mom???” glares from Maggie. And a couple “How long are you planning to stay here?” glances from a staff member, as well as a few teens who were adorably gothed-out and painting birdhouses.

Okay, Okay, I acquiesced, and left.

I’d rather be here anyway, I thought, as I entered my true home: the kid section. I chose a pile of novels and sat down to decide which I might actually manage to read. Reading has been hard for me lately with all the transitions in my life. But even normally my brain does not enjoy navigating the adult novel. Occasionally I choose literature from the teen section. But mostly I'm a juvenile junkie, all the way. Give me some Christopher Paul Curtis, Cynthia Voigt, Lois Lowry… that’s where I want to be.

Surrounded by the books I admire, I started to relax. I opened my computer to write, inviting-in the inspiration of my favorite authors. “Beverly Cleary… c’mon in and help a girl out!”

Suddenly a woman appeared. A real woman. Not the spirit of Beverly Cleary. She was hovering over me weirdly, so I looked up.

“Excuse me,” She said. “This area is only for families. You can’t be here unless you have a family.”

“Uhhhhh, that’s a weird discrimination to make.” I said. “But I do have a family.”

“I mean kids,” she said. “You have to have kids to be in here.”

“I'm sorry,” I said. “I have been coming to this library. To this exact table, in fact, for FIFTEEN YEARS. And no one has EVER told me I can’t be here. So I don’t know what you’re talking about. Do you actually work here? Because I don’t even recognize you.” I spoke to her like I had more right to be here than she did.

“Yes. I work here.” She said politely. “And I’m just doing my job. I’m supposed to tell people without kids that they have to go to the adult section.”

I was too confused to speak. All I could think to do was stare her down. I whipped out the most dominating expression in my facial repertoire. And even though I was seated on a tiny chair, and she was standing above me, I stared her down like only a mom can do. Like What the actual f*ck is this nonsense leaving your mouth right now???

My stare down worked. She walked away. Possibly to go find a more important librarian. Probably someone I actually would recognize. And that would be embarrassing, after 15 years of juvenile-section librarian comradery.

Her absence afforded me the time I needed to process this turn of events.

It took me about three minutes and then I had a revelation. It was the revelation that I’m certain you’ve already had while reading this. And I know it’s ridiculous that it took me so long. But finally, I was like… OH. The reason no one has kicked me out for the last 15 years was because I had KIDS all that time. I don’t have kids now. I DON’T HAVE KIDS!!!

Holy sh*t. My invitation to the kid section of the library has been revoked?

I never realized this relationship had a time stamp. An expiration date. I have been disowned!

I left my pile of juvenile fiction on the table. I guess I’m not supposed to be reading that stuff anymore. Now that I’m like… kidless and all. I got Maggie and we went home.

I stayed away for a couple of months. But I can’t break up with the library. So here I am. Trying to accept yet another transition in a sea of transitions. On a shelf to the right of me there is a book called “The Oregon Nonprofit Corporation.” To the left of me, “The Franchise Bible.” I shudder to think of it. What am I doing here?

A couple months ago when my girlfriend, Kate, and I got in a little squabble about how to re-decorate the living room she aggressively described my aesthetic as “5-year-old-with-a-box-of-crayolas.” She 100% meant that as an insult. But, much to her dismay, I was not insulted because, “HELL YEAH!”

When I used to hang my kids’ drawings on the wall, it was not because I was trying to promote their self-esteem. It was because I actually thought the room looked better that way.

I don’t belong in the mother f*cking adult section. OK?????

Don’t worry, people. My days in juvenile are not over. I’m just sitting here in the adult section temporarily. Formulating a plan.

****

It’s two days later, I am now editing this blog in a coffee shop since I’ve decided that my library relationship has become too confusing to nurture quality writing. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure that all these emotions have less to do with my truly missing a place. And more to do with some random person, who knows nothing about me, telling me that my whole life has changed. Like I didn’t already know. And then forcing me to accept it by ripping my home base out from under me.

My kids are learning how to drive. This is the last year any of my kids will go to the school we’ve attended since they were five. And next year they will all four be attending a giant traditional high school. Ash just got Type 1. Benjah and Kate just started a new business. Literally NOTHING is the same. And now this lady is telling me I’m not invited to the library. So I’m feeling dramatic.

But I will be ok. Because I can still read. And I can still write. And I can still walk up hills all over town while talking to myself. At nighttime I can watch Abbott Elementary with Andrew, or Never Have I Ever with Kate while eating ice cream. And that’s how I’m gonna get through all this.

And I’m probably still gonna go hang out in the kid section anyway. So there!

Kicked Outta the Kid Section (2024)

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