At our local library infant story-time, the librarian passed out slips of paper with the lyrics of the songs we were going to sing. Everett looked at the paper, got a gleam in his eye, and then took off, striding across the circle of infants, out of the children’s section, across the library’s main hall, over to the front door where there was a recycling bin. Proudly, he dropped the slip of paper into the recycling bin.
My baby doesn’t talk much, but he can separate recyclables from trash, he can remember every trashcan we ever pass, and he can clean up.
And he can’t sit still.
I lured him back to the circle of babies, each sitting calmly in the lap of their caregiver, each happily singing “Eensy Weensie Spider,” following the lyrics that Everett had now recycled.
I got Evs to sit down for a few minutes until the librarian passed out maracas and he decided he wanted to help by redistributing the maracas according to some schema known only to him. In any circle of one-year-olds, he tends to choose a favorite girl and then attempt to present her with all the toys, whether she wants them or not.
He is the worst-behaved baby at our library’s baby-story-hour, but his misbehavior generally comes from a sweet kindness.
At least he didn’t eat any other baby’s snack, this week, or toddle into the librarian’s private offices more than once. He also didn’t climb very many bookshelves, partly because he invented a new game of hiding in the empty spots of lower bookshelves.
At home, after months of wrestling books out of my hands (he wants to read his own selected pages in his own order, thank you very much), he has finally started to learn that it is enjoyable to sit and read a whole book together. He is also discovering that one of the easiest ways to get my attention is to toddle up to me with a book, because I do tend to drop everything and read to any kid who asks. But this has taken months.
I am hoping his story-time misadventures don’t foreshadow his future in school. I am hoping he lands in the classes of wise teachers who will assign him tasks, so he can move around helpfully and eventually learn to reconcile his own agenda with the class’s agenda.
It has taken him longer than most babies to learn to enjoy books, but now that he has discovered the joy of poking his fingers through Very Hungry Caterpillar and laughing at the antics in Goodnight Gorilla, he laughs more heartily than any baby I know. And he can be depended upon to helpfully recycle any slips of paper he finds.