Saturday, November 18, 2006

"Elizabeth Brown entered the world, dropping straight down from the sky..." - The Library, Sarah Stewart

I just ate a bagel.
And because I have several bad habits (only in regard to bagels; I have actually MILLIONS of generic bad habits), comprising the following: 1) liking my bagels soggy with butter (and NO WONDER I still weigh six hundred pounds!) and 2) eating in bed (BECAUSE I CAN, see previous bitter post about the institution of marriage), I just dripped a big splooge of butter on my favorite ratty grey t-shirt.
As Primo is fond of pointing out these days, it’s not fair.

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Speaking of fair, Primo’s school’s Scholastic Book Fair is next week. And yours truly, ever ready to mold herself into the perfect-PTA mom, was the volunteer coordinator for the event. I have a few tips to share, garnered through my dedicated experience and hard work over the past two weeks.

First, if you signed up to be a parent volunteer, don’t ignore my emails. And phone calls. And second, third and fourth emails. And another phone call (in case your three-year-old erased your answering machine messages or your dog ate the tape or aliens abducted your husband/wife before he/she gave you my message). If you are going to punk out on me, please let me know in advance. Please also know that by punking out, you have relinquished all right to complain about how the entire affair is conducted. If you don’t like how we set up the books or organize the class visits, tough. You should have come and helped us staple Styrofoam jungle animals to the walls and string Christmas lights draped with fake moss all over the ceiling and arrange a thousand stupid little containers of stupid little “educational” geegaws and determine if indeed the Veriphone credit card doohickey needs a phone line while the nearest phone jack is 100 yards down the main school corridor and around the corner.

I pause here to acknowledge that the second-grade teacher did most of the planning and set-up other than volunteer coordinating, and she did a FABULOUS job, and I was blown away by her enthusiasm and her creative and fun ideas. I hope Primo is lucky enough to have her for second grade. Also, the fourth grade classes that made all the animal decorations under the tutelage of the art teachers deserve commendation; the beasts are quirky and bright, and I want the snake to take home with me.

Secondly, hide your credit cards, prepare to lie to your child about how many books Santa will be purchasing from the book fair, or arrange to be abducted by aliens prior to the event. Unfortunately my children know I am a big huge sucker when it comes to books. I can deny them most anything else with positive savoir faire, but if they ask me for a book, *especially* if they don’t whine? Immediate surrender. No matter that Primo’s birthday is in three weeks, and Christmas in a month and a half, and I have mostly finished the Christmas shopping already, including a substantial purchase at my library’s Scholastic book sale last spring.

Third, if you have to wear a name tag, don’t even bother with your real name. Just put ‘[insert appropriate child name]’s mom’ on it and be done. Because that is all anyone really cares about anyway, and it will save you a lot of breath. Which you can then expend in trying to deny your child books that he has asked for oh-so-nicely.

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Speaking of books, I managed to get to the library today. The fourth Sandman was ready to pick up, and the blessed library clerk rooted through several bins of incoming interlibrary loans to give me the third Sandman which I was waiting on. I also had Louis Cataldie’s Coroner’s Journal waiting. Because I am currently on a graphic-novel (comics, for those of you who last time thought I was talking about, ahem, softcore porn) kick, I selected Mark Alan Stamaty’s Alia’s Mission: Saving the books of Iraq which was featured in the kids’ book review pages of the local newspaper recently. And when Terzo yanked The Inside Outside Book of Libraries off the shelf in his earnest efforts to rearrange the entire lower third of the alphabet in the nonfiction section, I fell immediately in love with the book’s concept and had to bring it home where I will reread it, hog it for the next few weeks, and eventually order my own copy from half.com. I have this little collection of books about and featuring libraries and librarians, and this has to be added to it. (My favorite book in this particular little group is Sarah Stewart’s charming The Library, with whose heroine I feel an incredible affinity.)

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And speaking of too many books, I have The Book Thief sitting on my nightstand, half-read; I need to finish Perfume which I am about two-thirds of the way through; and acting upon the recommendation of the Rogue Librarian during a lovely, long conversation (via Skype messaging) last week, I just dug out from the stacks in the computer/family room The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

I have only recently discovered that while it’s not really cool for me to sit and read a novel at Perfect clan gatherings (never mind that everyone else is staring at the television), no one blinks if you are reading what is perceived as a comic book – it seems to be akin to doing the crossword puzzle or one of those infernal sudokus, which H’s brother does all the time at family events. So one more debt owed to Neil Gaiman and Sandman: rescuing me from mind-numbingly dull gatherings with people whom I really don’t like.

But I lurve you, Neil.

6 comments:

Bec of the Ladies Lounge said...

And now I am waiting for Neil Gaiman to suddenly pop up your combox... Assuming he's alive, which instantly shows that I am a) uncool enough not to know who Neil Gaiman is and b) disorganised enough not to have googled Neil Gaiman first to find out if he is alive...

But I am very glad he has saved you from tedious family!

telfair said...

That's part of the reason I like knitting -- I can knit at gatherings with people I don't really know / like (except funerals) and it seems socially acceptable.

Odd, that television is okay in the Perfect family, as are comic books, but not a book-book...

MsCellania said...

Can't you read anyway? What do they do, give you a hard time? Unbelievable! If everyone is watching tv, what's the difference?! Go lay down with Seggie and Terzo and pretend to nap with them, reading all the while.

I LOVE Scholastic books. We've had the bookfair at one school; I spent too much. Parker is a fiend for the Magic Treehouse series now. (read aloud - it's too difficult for him yet) and Ryan is crazy for storybooks, but not chapter books yet.
I really don't think children could ever have too many books!

I do love the crinkly sound of a library book - sometimes when I've got a good chunk of time, and can sit down to read, I get goosebumps sitting down to start.

BabelBabe said...

oh my god, my kids cannot nap there. there's nowhere comfy and safe for them to lie down, and it's too loud anyway. we stay at home until the naps are over
(sob, sob : )) and I go late with the nappers.

they don't give me a hard time, per se, but disapproval is made known later. I am CLEARLY not trying hard enough...

MsCellania said...

Ah, the passive aggressive crappe. Eats away at one's soul, doesn't it? *sigh*

Lazy cow said...

The only school volunteering I've done has been book-related: listening to the kids' reading, shelving library books (I was in a most pleasant trance) and helping at the Book Fair and spending a fortune on kids' books.
I'll have to plan my Christmas reading strategy for the stay at the in-laws (naturally, no one else is a reader). I may plan to have 'stomach cramps' and be forced to lie down for several hours. The Book thief sounds like a good choice for holiday reading, though I just can't come at graphic novels, even for our Neil.