My Offensive (?) Behavior Post

I’ve been thinking about a few things for awhile now.  Most of my conclusions are probably pretty controversial on these topics, but they make the most sense to me.  They do not reflect the views of my employer and may not necessarily reflect the views of my family/friends.  I apologize if the following post offends anyone.


I spend 40 hours each week working with the public.  I see them at their best and their worst.  I’ve learned which kids like certain series paperbacks and dvds so that I can almost have the catalog search completed before they approach the information desk.  I’ve learned which adults will almost always ask for “an exception” when it comes to paying their fines.  I know which teens are studious and hardworking, and which teens are only at the library because they don’t have a key to their house.  I’ve learned some tricks to keep the mentally ill regulars calm.  I’ve learned which patrons to watch because they have been caught stealing.  In my 7.5 years working for the library and the 4 years before that working for Sears, I think I’ve learned about people.

I worry about the future of our country.  I don’t worry because of test scores in school or because of the rising poverty levels – although those are concerns of mine.  I worry because of the way I see people behaving in public.  I believe that the way we behave when the world can see us says more about our potential for greatness than most other things.

Children learn how to behave by watching the people around them and through gentle correction.  With this in mind, I’ve looked at adults to see how they behave and (surprise, surprise) the adults who behave badly usually have children who do the same.  Overall, I see a huge number of people who are generally disrespectful, rude, destructive and careless, but who somehow have an unearned feeling of entitlement.  It just boggles my mind that our community leaders think that by focusing solely on education reform they’ll make our country be as great as it once was.

You know, the other day there was a 4 or 5 year old boy who was running and shouting in the library.  I looked for his parents so that I could talk to the child and his parents at the same time, but they were nowhere to be found.  So I asked the boy to stop, crouched down so we could talk without him craning his neck up to me and I said “I know there’s lots of open space in the library, but one of our rules is that we don’t run.  The other rule is to use our inside voices.  Could you please speak quietly and walk in the library from now on?”  I didn’t yell.  I wasn’t rude.  I didn’t touch him. 

About 5 minutes later his mother came over and yelled at the top of her lungs “Don’t you dare tell my child how to behave.  I’m his mother!  You come find me and I’ll tell him!”  I handed her a copy of the Library’s policy on public conduct in the library and pointed out the line stating that children under the age of 7 must be within speaking distance of a responsible adult at all times and that children under the age of 14 may not be at the library without a responsible adult in the building.  I explained that we have these policies because children this young are still learning how to behave in public buildings, and because people from all walks of life come to the PUBLIC library.  While we try to keep everyone as safe as possible, over 2,000 people a day visit this branch and it is impossible to keep an eye on everyone.  I asked where she was while her child was running and shouting in the library.  Can you guess?  On her laptop in the quiet area on the complete opposite end of our 34,400 square foot building.

See, this is my problem.  Kids aren’t being taught how to behave and thrive in our society and when their behavior is unacceptable nobody is “allowed” to correct it.  I’ll be 31 in a few weeks, so I’m not looking back to the 1950s and calling them the good old days.  I’m looking back to the 1980s and remembering the way things worked back then.  In my neighborhood all of the adults could tell any child to get out of the street, to stop riding bicycles on the grass, to stop hitting their sibling and to otherwise behave appropriately.  If they corrected you and you ignored them or were disrespectful they would immediately call your mother and tell her what happened.  The same thing happened at school, except that they called your mom after school.

These adults weren’t questioning your worth as a parent.  They were keeping an eye on the youth in the neighborhood and ensuring that they behaved according to generally accepted guidelines.  So why is it different now?  I’m pretty sure that this is one of the reasons why so many of the people I see at work, on my way home, and in my neighborhood behave so poorly.

I’ve always said that if I ever have children I will never be angry with someone for correcting their behavior as long as it’s done respectfully.  I don’t ever want to be one of those parents whose child acts crazy, ends up in jail or murders someone because I didn’t accept the loving assistance of other people in my community. I just think that it’s time for other people to think the same way for the good of their children, the community and even the country.

Dreaming of Mom

Mom had a second stroke this week – yesterday, in fact.  It’s weird how much can change from one moment to the next.  I was counting the money for the cash register yesterday morning when I got the call.  My sister said Mom couldn’t say anything but “Mom” and “Dad.”  They called 911 and I was on my way.

So, Mom’s back in the hospital.  She was admitted yesterday.  If she does well, she’ll be released tomorrow.  She’s super confused, talks like she’s had way too much to drink and lacks coordination.  We’ll see, right?

The ER neurologist showed me Mom’s CT scans.  She walked me through all the damage that her previous 7 (?) strokes have done, the damage the blocked carotid artery has done, the damage caused by diabetes, cholesterol, etc.  Almost the entire back of her brain on the right side is dark gray – a sign of damage.  There’s similar, but less widespread damage on the left side.  There are black pin-pricks in other parts of her brain.  The arteries are very narrow leading up to and through her brain.  The doctor said that there is so much damage caused by her previous strokes that it’s difficult to find the new damage caused by the stroke on Sunday and yesterday.

After Mom was admitted I went home to relax and sleep.  After my dad passed away, I dreamed about him.  I told him how much I loved him, he gave me words of warning and I woke up at peace.  I had a similar dream about my mom last night, but she hasn’t passed on yet.

My dream last night was peaceful, beautiful, touching and sad all at the same time.  I don’t remember all of it, but I do remember the most important part.  My mom, sister, brother and I were all standing in a field filled with yellow and white daisies.  It was sunny, but not hot and I wasn’t worried about us burning in the sun’s rays.  We were all so happy and calm, but there was a touch of sadness too.

Mom was standing tall without her walker.  She looked so vibrant and alert.  She was smiling.  Her hair was done like she used to do it before all these strokes.  Her face looked younger too.  She spoke to each of us kids and told us that everything was going to be alright.  She said that she loved us very much, but that she had to go away for awhile.  She would see us soon so we shouldn’t worry and we should always remember that she loves us.

Then I woke up.

I don’t really know if this dream is a precursor of things to come; if she’s telling us goodbye before she’s gone for good, or if she was simply talking about her stay in the hospital.  I do know that when I woke up I felt a little bit lighter and sadder all at the same time.

I don’t know what I’ll do when Mom passes on.  For a long time, she’s been mostly gone but bits and pieces of her have shown up and they remind me of what I miss.  As frustrating as they were at the time, I miss our “noon-thirty I love you calls” that came about as a mutual check-in from 2005-2008.  I would be so annoyed because she would panic a little if I couldn’t answer the phone.  After her stroke in 2008 the calls stopped because she was confused by the phone.  And now she’s confused by talking.

I know that death is another part of life, and that Mom has not passed on yet.  But knowing that it’s basically around the corner for someone I love so much is very difficult to handle.

So Mom, I know you can’t read this, but please know how much we love you.  Please understand how much we miss your guidance and nosiness.  And how much I’d love to hear your stories just one more time.

  • July 2020
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