Even after my baby sister was born, my mom still made me go to the library. 1989. Age 6. Education. Education. Everything had to be educational. After a morning routine of forced labor, I headed out to the library with my mom and my sister. The Northwest Branch Library was adjacent to a park with a playground. Sometimes I tried running towards the playground before hitting the books, hoping my mom let me get a little swing action. That never happened. “Denise, you want to wash more socks?” “No.”
It was library first, then swings. My mom always followed through with the Premack principle. She didn’t play games. During circle time at the library, I got annoyed at the slow pace the volunteer librarian read at, so I pretended to listen. Occasionally, I snuck in my Dracula teeth. Sometimes I got my Dracula teeth in front of Alpha Beta, the local grocery store from the gumball vending machines. “Sister.” In my lowest whisper voice, “Sister, jejejeje.” “Raw.” “You want one.” “I brought one for you.” I sneakily handed the Dracula teeth to my sister. “Raaaa.” “Raaaa.”
After, we read some Amelia Bedelia books. I begged my mom to let us check out read-along cassette books. It was my only opportunity to have a good excuse to touch all the buttons on the stereo. I pressed all the buttons. Hold on, “I have to pause it.” “I have to go pee.” I peed, went back to the stereo, read a page. Hold on, “Let me rewind, I didn’t hear that part.” “Ugh man, I rewinded too much.” “Let me fast forward to where I was at.” “Ok, push play.” I read along the entire book several times. Read-along cassette books were our favorite because it was entertaining and lazy. You got to wear headphones, if you wanted to, and if you didn’t want to use your eyes to read you could use your ears to listen.