FreeRangeLives Blog post from Dr. Sarah Bridges
Reading is a challenge when one of your children has autism. It is tricky to find things that will interest him and it is tricky to go out in public. For us, the local library is an outing, sometimes positive, often shaky. We are out of new books at home. Not for Porter—he would have me read Spot seventeen times in a row, but Tyler flies through her books. The kid section is on the left, past the sitting area with the magazines. I pick up a copy of Dog Fancy and read about Golden Retrievers. Tyler gets a handful of books and we stand in line by the checkout desk. Above the scanner is a sign taped to the wall and I see our name. “Why do they have your name up there, Mommy?” “Oh, it must be someone else.” I don’t really look because Porter has climbed under the desk. “It says ‘Sarah Bridges’ and that’s you.” I look and see she is right. My name is up there under a note that says, No more checkouts. Speak to librarian. It’s exactly like gas stations that copy and post pictures of bad checks. “I’ll ask her. Don’t worry, honey,” I tell her. Now Tyler is twitching too, craning to read the small print below my wanted poster. “It says, ‘five books—one year late’ I think you’re in trouble.” “Got it, thanks Tyler.” I am holding Porter, who is hanging onto my hand and swinging because he won’t stand up. His helmet bumps the desk as he swings back and forth. We move to the front of the line. Tyler steps forward. She points to the note on the wall. “That’s my mother, she’s right here,” then she points to me. “Yes, that’s me. Do we have something overdue?” The librarian looks at the note then at me. Porter’s helmet bumps against the desk. “Let me just look this up,” she says. I hand her my library card. She makes a clucking sound. Her eyebrows go up and then the corners of her mouth turn down; 95% of communication is nonverbal and every bit of this message seems bad. “We have a little problem,” she says, emphasizing the last two words. Her words say little problem, but her face says big problem. She types again in the computer and then says in a stern whisper, “We can’t loan you any more books.” “Do I have something overdue?” I ask again. “You have five things that are a year overdue. One is deemed lost.” She looks closer at the screen, “It’s called: How to be an Adult in Relationships. Does that ring a bell?” “It probably does, I’m sorry, why don’t I pay the fine now?” I let go of Porter’s hand to reach in my purse and he falls on the ground and yelps. The librarian clucks. Porter howls. “Did you steal the books?” Tyler asks. Porter screams. “I’m afraid we are well past fines as it appears there are other missing books. I’m afraid you are on probation,” the librarian says and stares at me. Tyler clucks. Porter kicks the desk. “Oh sure, how much?” I ask. “It will be $36 for the late fees and $54 if you don’t find those five books that are still out.” I pull money out of my wallet and pay her. We take our new books. I make a mental note to look for the ones we now own. Tyler is still concerned. She leans over the counter. “How serious is it?” “It’s under control, Ty. Let’s go.” I get my change and grab Porter. Tyler trails a few feet behind us then stops. She runs back to the librarian. “Will you ever take the sign down?” She is pointing at my library card up on the wall. It’s clear there’s going to be a lot of therapy. I grab her hand. The three of us walk through the lobby and out the glass doors. “Why didn’t you return their books, Mom?” “I just missed the due date,” I explain to her. “You really should be on time,” she says, scolding me. “The important thing is to be courteous when you are in trouble.” I say this to her although I can’t imagine her ever running afoul of the cops. “I’d rather we don’t get in trouble,” she says. “I’ll work on it.” We get in the car and drive home. I unload Porter from his car seat and Tyler jumps out of the car and spies our neighbor in her yard, raking. She runs over to her. As I get closer I hear her say, “My mother was banned from the library.” I give a little wave to the neighbor and we shuffle inside to read our books.
This story was Excerpted from Sarah’s Memoir “A Bad Reaction”: Buy Here on Amazon.com: