For decades my parents have threatened to lock me out of the house and skip town, and today, after plenty of fair warnings, they finally did.
(They tell me they’ll be back in an hour, but I have my doubts.)
So instead of hanging out at their house, I’m sitting in a comfy chair at the library, right in front of a giant window. It’s a little distracting, but it’s fun watching the little kids go by, chasing each other, delivering Girl Scout cookies or avoiding the perfectly clear sidewalk in
order to stomp on the crunchy snowdrifts.
Some things never change. The boy across the room is reading a Berenstain Bears book I might have read when I was little; we seemed to have an endless selection of them and I went through them like messier children went through tissue paper.
The boy seems to have a much better attention span than I do, though, and isn’t looking up to watch the semi trucks and tractors go by. Shouldn’t a child have a shorter attention span than an adult? And mine continues to get worse with age. By the time I’m 90 I probably won’t be able to finish a sentence, much less a paragraph. No doubt this will be a relief to everybody else.
Other things do change. I’m typing on a laptop that weighs a lot less than the previously mentioned child, and it’s connected to the internet. When I was the boy’s age, we were impressed by computers with colored monitors and fought to finish assignments first so we could get one of the three copies of Oregon Trail.
Now I can sit here in the library and work on stories and look up the Berenstain Bears, as well as doing more traditional "library" activities–reading newspapers, browsing through magazines or wandering around the bookshelves.
Today I learned about the newest member of the Bear family, Honey, who was born in 2000, long after I’d stopped reading about the popular children’s series by Stan and Jan Berenstain. The first book in the series was written in 1962, and now there are more than 300 of them.
Of course, these things are nice to know but they’re fairly trivial, too. What’s important, though, is that when a little girl in a pink sweater and pigtails walks over to me and points at the Bear family, I can tell her who they are, and maybe when she’s learning to read, she’ll remember the Bears on my screen, and pick out a Berenstain book.
Because sometimes things don’t change, even when they do.