The other day, while waiting for a prescription refill at the pharmacy, I was asked by a 4-year-old why my gymshoe laces weren’t tied. I told him sometimes it’s difficult for me to bend over and tie them.

“Oh”, he said, “I can’t tie them. I don’t know how.”

I didn’t ask him to tie my laces, but he seemed to think that he was responsible because they weren’t tied. His funny comment brought back reminiscences of the days when I worked for the Legler Branch Library. As a clerk, I worked at the circulation counter. But some days when we were short on help, my supervisor asked me to help in the juvenile department. On those days, I felt exceptionally happy. The young patrons amused me with their outspoken comments.

One day, a small boy about seven or eight approached me. He asked whether I would tell the girl at the online computer to let him use it. I asked him why I should do that. He said, “She’s been on it long enough!” I looked at the tall, strong-looking, large teenage girl clicking the mouse and staring at the computer screen, and I returned to sorting my books. The little boy asked me, “Are you scared?” I asked him if he knew what the expression “first come, first served” meant. He said he did. I said, “Stand behind the girl, and when she finishes, you’ll be next to use the computer.” As he moved to line up behind the girl, he said, “I still think you’re scared!”

Another boy, about the same age asked for a book about guns. The question was so unexpected, I almost shouted, “Boy, you don’t want to read about that!” It made me nervous that a boy his age wanted to learn about guns. Then I thought, the little boy wants to read, and I shouldn’t discourage that. Although I had never seen books about guns on the shelf, I asked my supervisor anyway. She said she had a book about gun control. I said to myself now that’s the kind of book the little boy should be reading. I asked the little boy if he wanted to read a book about gun control. He said, “Yes, it’s OK, as long as it explains how to be a policeman.”

The next young patron was about 10 or 11 years old. He wanted a book about snakes. I pointed him in the direction of the section at the back of the room. After awhile, he came back with an opened book. A snake covered one entire page. On the opposite page were two short paragraphs in large text. “This book is for a baby,” he said. I pointed him in the direction of the science books. This time, he came back with a science book whose section on snakes had smaller pictures and a little more print. “This book is too juvenile,” he said.

Since he couldn’t find a book he liked, I suggested that he browse through the books in the adult section. About 20 minutes later, he approached me again. “Lady, do you have a middle section for kids like me?” he asked. “I’m too smart for the children’s section and not yet ready for the adult.”

Young patrons like the future policeman, the computer whiz, and the whiz kid made me forget my arthritis pain. They kept me smiling and in a humorous mood all day.