I used to carry a bit of mom guilt around over not taking Kendall to the library. Oh sure, we tried it, like, once for a story time thing last summer. It was not a pleasant experience. Not pleasant enough to stick around and get a library card, for sure.

Friends would talk about taking their kids to the library on hot/cold/rainy days, participating in story time and city events. Truthfully, I’d rather let him stand in front of the TV and play Wii Sports. Did that make me a bad mom? I mean, he was just going to try to sword fight or run or jump off of things, anyway. It made more sense to encourage him to do that at home than to get mad at him for doing it at a library.

That’s not to say we didn’t read to him. We did that plenty. The boy has his own little library at home.

But still. A small part of me thought I wasn’t teaching him to love books and reading if I didn’t teach him to love the library.

Yesterday was stormy, the kids are on summer break between Mothers Day Out sessions, and Scott’s back to working from home. It’s been a challenge keeping the kids occupied the last few weeks, especially now that I have to keep them from hanging off his leg, whining for snacks while he’s on a conference call.

While Leyna napped, Kendall and I snuck off to the local library for the first time.

He’s 4.

It was perfect.

He got his own library card and the freedom to pick out any 5 books he wanted. He was responsible for carrying them in his backpack and keeping up with them so we can return them. He understood and appreciated the privilege, and he acted like an angel.

That’s not to say he’ll behave every time we go in, but I know I can expect as much from him now. My 17 month old? I can’t expect that from her, and I’m not going to add unnecessary stress to our trips by pretending I can. Kendall and I will go when Leyna can stay home.

My point is, the tiny bit of mom guilt is gone now, replaced by the feeling that I did the right thing. I waited until I knew my kid could handle it. It doesn’t matter if others could handle it younger. All kids are different. I listened to my gut (which was screaming THIS IS GOING TO BE A DISASTER for about 4 years), and I waited until he was old enough.

I didn’t rush it.

Are there any activities you’ve held off involving your children in because you were afraid they weren’t old enough?

26 thoughts on “Don’t Rush It”

  1. Amen! I tried the library story time and it made me want to stick hot pokers into my eye sockets. My kid was yelled at by the storyteller for touching the wall mural. My sweet newborn was a saint however.

    My oldest is now getting more excited about reading new stories so the idea has crossed my mind to go check out a few books. I think I’ll wait a bit longer then make it into a big boy adventure.

    I was fairly guilt free but it’s good to know I’m not the only mom depriving my children of that free rainy day activity.

  2. we are most likely delayed pre school until ALMOST 5 y.o. since she won’t go to Kindergarten until 6. She’s a holy terror, I love her, but a holy terror.

  3. For me it’s sports. My son is 3.5 years old and lately other family members with kids around the same age have been signing their kids up for hockey, karate, soccer, whatever and it makes me feel like we should be doing the same. But really, I also think my son is a little too much of a “free spirit” to want to go along with all rules, uniforms, etc. He’s a good kid and listens to his teacher at school but I think sports might be pushing it – really I think he’d rather just run around and have fun with it without all the rules still. And frankly, even if he can handle, I’m not sure he should yet. I’m more of a “let the kids be kids and not force them into too much STUFF do early” kind of person. But, of course it’s hard not to question it when everyone else seems to be doing something else.

  4. I think it all depends on the library and the storyteller. When we lived in KY we had an AMAZING library story time for younger kids. It was in a room with a door (no books to run around pulling off of the shelves) and they did more music and movement with short stories thrown in for good measure. We LOVED it! Here in DC that is not the case. The librarian who runs it is a disaster. She reads in a very monotone voice and the book choices are super long and not age appropriate at all for my 24 month old. Just throwing out that even if you “think” it might be a disaster, it is worth a shot just to see what your library has to offer. My son went every week (sometimes twice a week) and my daughter has maybe been a handful of time since she was born, just because our library here is not the same type of experience.

    Great post! Loved it 🙂

    1. Ha! One time I took him to a B&N story time, thinking it would be a little more relaxed. WRONG. That story teller clearly had no kids, an over-inflated ego, and an unfulfilled dream to be a broadway star. He chided all the children for being too “twitchy” and then I turned my stroller around, glugged my latte, laughed and left. For us, I don’t know if it was so much story time, or just the challenge of keeping him from leaping over other small children while he listened to the story, but that is a great point.

    2. It also depends on which library you choose, Kristy. I’ve found some in DC that are horrible and others that are perfect (glad to say the awful ones are being rehabbed or are slated to be). We live in SE and I’m pretty sure my girls and I have made the rounds to nearly every library in the city. My son, at 2, knows that the library is a quiet place. However, he will sit and read aloud. While I think it’s cute, it’s usually disturbing others, so he goes in infrequently. We’ve never been able to do storytime b/c it’s always in the middle of the work week.

      This is a timely post, Jill, because today is the first day I let my 11 yr old ride the bus alone. I rode halfway with her, then a few of her friends got on on their way to school as well. I got off and came on to work. She was supposed to text me when she got to the building. That was over an hour ago. Needless to say I want to leave work and go to the school b/c no one in the office is answering. For the sake of my sanity, I’m thinking this is one thing I should have held off on for just a bit longer.

  5. The library and I are not friends. I haven’t taken the twins since they were like 2.5, and even then I had them sequestered to a stroller with tons of snacks. Before that it was just running around all willy nilly, playing with the light switches, and trying to yank stuff off the wall or go steal the story lady’s props. I gave up. They’re 4 now, so I know that the time is coming when I can take them again. This gives me hope.

  6. We’ve tried the library thing with my almost-4 year old and with the 2 year old and it is NOT.FUN. We have a hard enough time keeping them behaving like civilized children in places where they can be loud, let alone a place where they will be (and have been, by the way) scolded for being too loud (The librarian told my 3 year old that he had to use his inside voice). So for now, the library is my place, not theirs 🙂

  7. We havent attempted the library yet. Mainly because at one she doesnt get the whole sit down and read concept very well. In another 6-12 months I want to try it, but only because of how our library is. We are between two libraries but the one we go to has big enclosed room with toys and all the children’s book shelves. Kids can scream and run and its no big deal. The other library is your typical open concept SHHHH! library. We wont go there for many many years.

  8. I’m delaying taking DS (3) to a movie theatre movie.

    I dont’ want him to disturb others and I also don’t want to fork over money for a movie that we only get to see maybe 15 of.

  9. Disney….We desperately want to go but want ALL the kids of them to remember it. As I’m preggo with #3 (and last), if the oldest has to wait until he’s almost 10, then so be it.

  10. This is awesome. I am currently kicking myself because I dread taking my 3 year old to the library for story time. I started trying a few months ago and he would either cling to me and cry or try to run all over the library. I have given up at this point in time, and I have been giving myself crap for it. I keep wondering what I’M doing wrong where it is so hard for him to handle things like that…I guess he just needs time.

  11. We are always the last to do things with our kids, and much happier for it. It even relates to things like tying shoes. I was glad I waited until mine was a little older to switch to laced sneakers, rather than fighting him and his laces for a year. We learned to tie shoes in one week and moved on.

  12. We tried storytime at the library…but once she got older than 20 months and the teachers started expecting certain things of the kids (like sitting still when it’s time to do that and participating when it’s time to do that), I started getting glared at by the teachers. I gave up on that. My husband takes her to pick out books and that goes great (she’s almost 3.5 yrs now) but we still haven’t tried storytime again yet.

    The main thing that we held off on for her that was really weird was stopping swaddling. She seemed to need to be swaddled to sleep and so we kept doing it. She was fully swaddled for sleep until she moved to a regular bed (at 18 months–which was quite early, but whatever). Now she’s almost 3.5 yrs old and guess what she asks for almost nightly to help her relax? Being wrapped tightly in a big blanket. Perhaps we created that need but I like to think that I recognized that need in her before she could communicate it.

  13. Sometimes we don’t always have that option. I have 4 children the oldest two are 13 and 10 and the younger two are 4 and 16 months. So we kind of don’t have a choice but to go to the library all together since hubby can’t sell fish from inside the house, lol. I can happily say that our library is the perfect place for even the smallest of children. The children’s section is huge and it’s noisy. Not at all like you would expect a library to be. I know it wasn’t like that when I was a kid. The librarian was always shooshing and there just weren’t little ones in site. I like to think all libraries are as child friendly as ours. Maybe I’m wrong, but in the summer especially there are always activities for the kids to do and it’s great. Even though last summer the baby was under 6 months old I had no problems having her there. I do think I held back more with my oldest though. She probably was your son’s age when she got her first library card too. I expected the library to be like it was when I was a child though. Now I know better ;).

  14. We avoided the library for a long time. Ours has little toddler-sized computer desks with learning games and headphones. Are you kidding me? My boys just wanted to climb all over them and press every button they could while the bigger kids would tell me that “babies are not supposed to use the computers” It is still enough of a struggle to get them away from the computers (at 3 & 5) that we only go a few times a year!

  15. I have 2.5 year old and 3.5month old boys. We went to the library twice. It was a disaster both times. While most of the children sat for story time my toddler danced, rolled on the ground and tried to interject new plot lines into the story when he got bored. I won’t take either of them until there’s a little bit more impulse control. It’s just not fair to my toddler to have to tell him to be quiet and still – that’s not how he roles. We head to wide open green spaces most of the time. I’m so happy I read this. I’ve always thought I was missing out or was the odd one out with a kid not ready for libraries.

  16. I think the single greatest gift you can give a child is to love him and accept him for who he is and who he isn’t, while at the same time nudging/encouraging him to gain new skills, try new things, take on new challenges. The perfect balance is impossible to find but you sound like you are pretty darn close.

    I know any time I try to teach Ella something or move her on to a new phase because she “should” it just ends in tears, as often as not for both of us. I try to remember to ask myself, why now? Why give her the message that her development isn’t on the right pace?

  17. We have very similar parenting styles, especially regarding this subject.

    I don’t take my kids anywhere they are just going to make the trip harder. They never go to the grocery with me. That’s my adult time where I take my time, walk up and down aisles, read labels. And I do not want my kids to know what kind of food is out there that Mommy isn’t buying! We haven’t been to the library yet either, and my oldest is almost 4. I’m slowly branching out with the older two and taking them more places, but even then I’m often reminded that yup, they aren’t ready for everything yet, but normally they do well. But I don’t think, “I should have done this earlier.” Instead I just remind myself how awesome I am for waiting until they were ready! Since I have 3 kids 3 and under, we go even fewer places as a whole family than most. We tend to break everything up.
    “I’ll take the boys and you take the baby” is how it usually goes if we both have errands to run. Otherwise, we just leave one parent at home with the kids and the other does stuff. It works for now. We are going to the zoo in a week and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be CRAZY.

  18. My son just turned 5 April 17. We have been going to the library off and on since he was about 3. I tried the story time, but he never sat still (he never has…he’s a very active boy). I was always looked at as the mom who couldn’t get a handle on her kid. I was embarrassed that he didn’t want to sit with the other kids and participate in the gathering. I finally came to realize that I have a son who is just too active to sit through 30-40 minutes of reading without doing something. So, I changed my approach. We took a year and a half off and went back when he was 4.5. When we got, he sits at the learning computer and has 30 minutes of learning time (this is when I sneak off and look for books for me). Then we got to the children’s area and he picks out some books; we read them at home.

    This works well for us. He is a computer genius…I swear he can read and isn’t telling me! He can find a Lego game site like nobody’s business.

    I think my daughter will be a different story though. She is 2.5 and whenever she is quiet…she is in her room “reading” her books. <3

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