We pushed the automatic door button on the brown brick wall and two glass doors opened up. We walked right in. It was our Saturday ritual.
Goldi and her little brother excitedly promenaded in as her voice bounced out “Here we are!”
There was a pointed nose lady with perched glasses looking over the circulation desk with eyebrows raised. I am certain that her thinking bubble read: “There are kids in the library. I hope they know how to follow the rules.”
Just like the story:
“There’s a lion in the library” reported Mr. McBee to the head librarian.
“Is he breaking any rules?” asked Mrs. Merriweather, the head librarian.
“Not at the moment.” said Mr. McBee
“Then let him be. ” said Mrs. Meriweather.
Yes, just let us be “Mrs. Meriweather”. Return your pointed nose to the research of the three toed sloth or whatever it is librarians do while waiting until the next illiterate comes inquiring. We know for the most part, how to follow the rules.
The sounds and sights of the library are clearly distinct from the grocery store or the post office. You can still hear through the silence the clicking of the buttons on a computer keyboard or a soft voice exchange of book talk. You see people sitting like statues hovering over one page of a book. You have to look twice or wait until a page turn to know that they are real people. You have to strain to see or hear these things, because quiet and stillness is all there is in a library. But Goldi hears and sees it all.
Goldi slid her hands all the way down the spines of the books that lead us around the corner. There we stood admiring the wondrous children’s space. It was colored with kid art. Stuffed children’s book characters smiled from the tops of shelves. There were wide chairs perfect for parent /child reading. There were toys I’d never seen before. Costumes galore, and … a laminated sign – framed and standing tall and proud:
Please follow the rules:
No rough play.
Use your inside voice.
Pick up after yourself.
We wound our way into one of the A-Z aisles and plunked down to see those overlooked bottom shelved books.
Goldi yanks one off out of pure randomness. She speedily page turns through it and begins a pile of “check outs” on a chair we have claimed OURS. Goldi busies herself making friends with books while her brother sits and reads a board book. I breath a sigh of peace and begin my own perusal of all those children’s authors that have beaten me to the shelf.
I peek up every now and then and find that Goldi ‘s pile indicates a check out of everything but the shelf itself. There are more yanked off books on the floor and sloppily on top of the ones remaining in ABC order. Some costumes are all scattered about the floor.
“Hey Mom! I found this!” she exclaims loud enough for the world to hear.
She’s holding up the latest version of Cinderella.
“SHHH!” that’s really exciting!” I say with my fingers to my lips.
“This is the ONE mom! Look!” she says pointing to her favorite version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
She plunks down and begins to “read” :
“Oh no! She’s at the Three Bears House . She is knocking on the door mom!” she says very expressively.
I notice that her voice is beginning to be heard by a “statue” nearby. He has sighed a few times and crossed his legs away from us.
“Indoor voices.” I say to Goldi in my Mrs. Merriweather voice.
There are a few rattles because Goldi has soon found the set of magnetic shapes. I sit down at the counter space with her and show how to build. She engages for a minute and then there is a loud beep.
“What’s that?” she screams. “Mom! That is too loud. Make it stop!”
“It’s okay, it will stop. A book got beeped. ”
She covers her ears and scrunches herself up. And in a few seconds … it stops. Goldi leaves the shapes and continues to build her tower of books which stands about 15 titles tall. Her brother still sits as one of those statues hovered over a book.
I try to speed read through at least one book when suddenly there is a great big loud shriek:
It was the only thing that Goldi knew how to do when someone else takes something she had handpicked as HERS. A boy had wandered into the children’s section and had helped himself to one of the books from Goldi’s massive pile.
Mrs. Merriweather marched over. “If you cannot keep quiet, you will have to leave. Those are the rules.”
The pointed nose lady behind the circulation desk was soon standing inches away. She had some serious pointing out to do.
“There have been some complaints about the loud noises in the library. You must use your inside voices and play calmly. If you cannot control yourself, you will have to leave.”
I found myself the mother of a Lion in the library. Goldi hung her head low. She welled up with tears and left the huge stack of her new hard cover friends. She knew she had broken a rule. She knew the feeling of being unwelcome now.
“We’ll leave.” I said in a voice that was quieter than the library stillness.
We didn’t visit the library the next Saturday or the one after that or the one after that. We didn’t visit for a whole bunch of Saturdays. Goldi had soon forgotten what had happened and missed it so. But hadn’t forgotten.
I didn’t have any comeback lines like “It was a few loud noises, she won’t do it again.” Do you mean to provide all this for children and not expect some noise?” But rules are rules. No Lions in the Library. They have no business being in the library. They are loud, big,and wild.
But my Lion loves the Library. A Lion in the library might break the rules from time to time. And for this Lion, there is a reason for rule breaking, and the reason was autism. And a Lion like Goldi has every business being in the library.
So one sunny Saturday, we walked right up to the button on the brown brick wall and pushed it. “We are here!” Goldi announces. The pointed nose lady looked over the top of the circulation desk. The thinking bubble that floated over her head remembered. I am sure the words in the bubble were :”Here they are again.”
We have spent many a Saturdays in the library. We do our very best to follow the rules. Because even in the library there is a place for a Lion, rules and all.
Romans 6: 14 You are not under the law, but under grace.