Friday, March 26, 2004

Do you love Kayla like I love Kayla?

Today a little two year old girl named Kayla came in the library with her mom.

How do I know her name was Kayla? Because her mom said that name seven thousand times! I think this child had been loaded up on Red Bull and Runts just prior to coming in because from the time she came through the door to the time she left Kayla did nothing but run and stomp and squeal and scream and drive everyone crazy, especially her mom.

At the time, I was upstairs shelving, a task that doesn't get done quite as often since Mrs. J, our resident shelver, has been out with a bad heart. (And believe me, that's a post unto itself.) From downstairs I hear stomping and screaming and girlish squeals with an underlying soundtrack of Kayla's mom pleading... "No Kayla, don't run. No, Kayla, put that back. No, Kayla, don't leave the children's room. Kayla we need to use our inside voice. Kayla stop running. Kayla stay off the stairs. No, Kayla don't press the buttons on the computer! Kayla we need to use our inside voice!!! No, Kayla, we don't take the stuffed animals from the kid's rom. Kayla don't run! No, Kayla, stay in here. Stay in here, Kayla. Stay in here, Kayla!!! Kayla stop it! Kayla..."

After a few minutes of waiting for the inevitable *SMACK* "WAHHHHHHHHHHH!" it didn't come. Kayla was still running and stomping and squealing at full force. She even ran, stomped and screamed her way upstairs and into the non-fiction room, dashing past me clutching a yellow stuffed chick toy. A moment later, her mother came huffing and puffing after her and herded Kayla back down the stairs.

Now, our library is one of the loudest libraries in the world. We don't have a whole lot of rules about being quiet because most of our patrons are quiet naturally and we usually only have to shush people when other patrons complain, which is rare and often involves Ron the Ripper. However, we aren't beyond asking parents to keep their kids in line when the kids are doing their bull in a china shop routine. I knew that any patrons who were downstairs would be crazed by the antics of this little girl by this point, so I decided as the senior staff member in house that it was my job to go and try and do something about it.

I made it to the landing of the stairwell before I saw Kayla blindly careen around the corner from the children's room and stomp full-speed down the computer/reference hall, turn around and stomp back. By the time she made it back, her mom had reached the doorway and was there to catch her when she arrived.

"Now, Kayla, you have to stay in THIIIS room," Kayla's mom said, pointing to the children's room. "See that line on the floor? You can't cross that line."

Well, at least mom is trying, I thought. However, Kayla's wild-eyed expression of ADHD-addled glee told me that she wasn't listening. I wasn't even back to the top of the stairs before she plowed around the corner and stomped through the reference hall again. Fortunately, no one was using any of the computers and there wasn't another patron in the building save for Kayla's mom's friend and her daughter (who, though not as rambunctious as Kayla, was trying her darndest to emulate her friend).

I went back downstairs and pulled the computer chair out from the first computer desk by the stairs, providing something for Kayla to smack into when blindly plowing around the corner. I know, I should be horribly embarassed to have done such a thing, but kids are very often quiet after having knocked themselves senseless. Before Kayla had a chance to give this a try, though, a computer patron arrived and so I had to slide the chair back out of the aisle to make room. Probably for the best.

Soon after, Kayla fled the carpeted children's room again and into the main fiction room, her little stomping footsteps echoing from our hardwood floor in there. I stepped into her path and squatted down. Let me assure you now, the following tactic would only work in the film version of my life.

"Kayla? Hey, how bout doing me a favor," I said in my best charmingly sing-song voice. "How bout don't run when you're in the library, okay? Library's are supposed to be quiet... Quiet like a little mouse. So you have to move slowly, and quietly, like a mouse, okay?"

Kayla regarded me curiously for a moment, like one might briefly regard a dully-colored fish in a tank. Then she revved her engines and sped off.

"We already tried that. It doesn't work," Kayla's mom said with weary irritation.

Kayla stayed for another 20 minutes. In that time, her little tightly wound spring gradually began to run down. Before leaving for good, her mother hauled her to the restroom to change Kayla's diaper. Kayla emerged triumphantly announcing to all, "I went Poo Poo!" before colapsing onto the foam chair in the children's room where she declared she wanted to take a nap. Her mother and I exchanged expressions that said, "Oh, now she wants to take a nap?"

"Next time we're taking her to the park first before coming here," her mom said as they were walking out the door, Kayla's limp form draped over her shoulder.

As a childless wonder myself, I can only laugh and make fun of situations like this. Karma working the way it does, though, I'm sure it will come back to haunt me when the wife and I eventually grump out a critter of our own.

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An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.