Saturday, February 18, 2017

Class Library

At the beginning of the school year I volunteered to help organize Rachel's classroom library. After all, I like books.

My mom is a professional librarian. I worked in a library the whole time I was at university.* I have quite a bit of respect for a well-organized bookshelf (though our home-shelving system is currently more along the lines of "not on the floor, please" than an actual system).

The books had mostly been sorted by reading level, but her teacher had gone to a training meeting where they suggested sorting the books by genre (in addition to reading level) so she asked me to come up with a classification and labeling system for that. It's been pretty fun, but rather slow-going. The kids keep reading books and not returning them to their proper bins, which is probably my fault because I haven't been able to finish labeling them yet.

Rachel, bless her heart, will sometimes use her spare time to put things back where they belong. But really I need to just buckle down and finish labeling these books!

I meant to go into the school this week but Miriam ended up calling home sick the day I was planning to go in, so then I didn't. But I did pop in to Rachel's classroom to tell her that Miriam wouldn't be on the bus (they panic if one or the other is missing in either car or bus line; and rightfully so) and to apologize to Rachel's teacher for being so remiss in my volunteer hours. I don't think I've been in since before Christmas break—and I used to go in once a week!

My excuse is that Benjamin and Zoë have been so exhausting (and sick). Or it's been cold and rainy so Andrew takes the van instead of the scooter. It just hasn't worked out. And this week was no exception.

"So," I suggested to Rachel's teacher. "Would it be alright if I brought a few bins of books home this weekend so I can label them and bring them back?"

"You don't want to spend your weekend doing that!" she objected.

"Sure, I do," I said and I almost added, "You remember which kid is mine, right? The one who thinks organizing the TIME Magazine for Kids by date is an idea of a good time..."

"Well, if you're sure," she said.

And I was. So after school the kids and I went to sort through the book bins to choose a few to take home with us (we had to put miscategorized books away first so that the bins would be easier to label). This evening after we had all the kids in bed we carried the books in from the van and settled in to watch an episode of The Man in the High Castle while I labeled books.

I got all four bins done by the time the episode finished!

This is only surprising, I guess, because I've only ever worked on labeling in the classroom with Benjamin and Zoë in tow. Boy, do they ever slow me down!

It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't have someone trying to steal your pen (because they want to draw, too) and whining until you procure art supplies for them, before emptying the contents of your diaper bag on the floor in search of a snack, which they then spill (several times)...and then ask for a drink, and then need to go potty, and then announce they're bored, and then sift through the books you just sorted (and in the process manage to jumble them all up again), and then cry and moan until you pick them up, and then demand to nurse or go home or go to the playground or...

I mean, really—I got more done in one hour (while watching television) than I probably ever got done at the school in four hours (with Benjamin and Zoë in tow). So I guess I can see why people cringe when I ask if I can bring my kids along while I volunteer (in the classroom, or to pick up litter, or whatever), but honestly I think it's good for those two to (or any child) to be forced into situations where they have to be thoughtful about other people and put the needs of others before their own (even if they're little). So while I don't think I'll stop going to the school (or bringing in my children) to volunteer, I definitely see myself bringing home another load of books next week.

* Bridget: this is the first thing I thought to type. But then, because of your post, I thought, "Huh. I just typed university instead of college." And then I thought that using the word university comes quite naturally to me. I think college is much more common in American English than other variants. It's a word that I heard way more after moving down to the States than before (and I'm not sure if that's because I was older and headed in that direction or if it's because Canadians genuinely say it less often (I looked it up and it's probably the latter; growing up I never dreamed of attending "college," it was always "university")). 


  1. Well, in Canada university and college are different. So, if you university-bound, you say university. Like Lethbridge College vs. The U of L? Not the same kettle of fish at all.

    1. if you ARE university bound. I left out a whole word!

  2. Yeah, I think it's definitely a US thing. The British say uni or university with "at" all the time, or even "to." I just can't do it in American English. I guess you Canadians follow the Queen on this one. :)