Today, Henry and I went to Battle Library rhyme time. We’ve been to one at a different library before and enjoyed it: lots of singing and waving scarves around and stopping Henry from grabbing other babies’ faces. Battle is in a different order of magnitude – at least twice the number of people crammed in a big, echoey room. When they got the tambourines out we were almost deafened. But it was brilliant fun.
I am falling in love with this little library, by the way. It’s a gorgeous building, built in 1908, and served as a hospital in WW1 and an air raid depot in WW2. There’s history in the walls, and now the walls are ringing with tambourines and ‘Old McDonald’. Today they had a display of the books shortlisted for this year’s Booker prize – which I promptly raided – AND Henry was inducted into their Little Explorers reading club with a stamp card, AND they run a cracking rhyme time. Be still our library-loving hearts.
There were two staff members running rhyme time today – the older, jolly lady leading the songs, and a girl in her twenties, sitting at her feet and passing round the tambourines. She looked exhausted, the younger girl. I wondered if she wasn’t a toddler fan (it’s understandable).
Then, in the screechy chaos of packing up, when each and every two year old eluded his or her mother and went mental with the musical instrument box, I noticed she was crying, and trying not to. Poor girl. A very bad day.
In my head, I found a quiet corner and put my hand on her shoulder and asked what was wrong. I wanted to be kind; she looked like she needed it. In reality, I hovered – weirdly, probably; and awkwardly, definitely – and never got the opportunity.
I did smile across the room. I hope she caught it.
Here’s what I remembered today, this thing I know but always forget: a kind thought is fleeting. If you don’t stand on its coat-tails and act on it quick, then thirty maraca-wielding toddlers will whip it out from under you.
I feel like a random act of kindness will be called for tomorrow, to make up the balance. Please throw one under my feet, dear universe. I’ll be looking, and I’ll step on it quick.