Thursday, September 10, 2015


Children scream at my library. Children cry, throw tantrums, shriek, and howl. Their blood curdling yowls can sound like birds or monkeys, but mostly they sound like unimaginable tortures are being inflicted; they are boiling in oil, on fire, slowly being eaten by machinery. Mostly children seem to have a pretty good time at my library, but sometimes they don't. In the library's defense a fair share of children's screams of unhappiness are directly connected to their having to leave the library.

I have long thought there are two kinds of people who work the front desk of my library here. One kind hears all that screaming and feels sympathy primarily for the parents, and the other kind hears all that screaming and feels sympathy mainly for the wailing child.

To give away my strongly felt position on the matter, though I admit a small handicap of not being a parent, I will simply state this: many times, when I see the screaming start, it is clearly the parent's fault. And every time I see it continued it is the parent's fault. The children, if you are carefully looking, give the parents a chance every time.

And the only real way I have ever seen it properly prevented, or ended, is through patience, attention, and presence, that is to say, through love.

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