Hey! You’re not going to believe this, but there’s this place, where they let you have books for no money. You go on your mom’s computer and you type in the titles to the Magic Tree House books, and then you click the button that says “Request” and then you type in your phone number but you have to use the lines in between the numbers and then you click the button that says “Submit” and then the place sends your mom a message on her computer when the books are ready and then you go and get them and you get to keep them for three whole weeks! And if you finish them before that, that’s okay — you just take them back. And then get more books!
Rowan has discovered the library.
Let me be more precise: he has visited our local public library between three and five times a week for the past five years, but only now has he cottoned onto the whole concept of what it means to borrow books, online.
It’s blowing his mind.
And really, it should blow his mind, shouldn’t it? It’s a mind-blowing concept, the public library, the idea that we have places where anyone can go and hang out and read and play with Thomas trains in the lobby and then take books home to read. It’s mind-blowing in the way that, say, nationalized, public, healthcare is: you go to the doctor if you feel sick — or even before you feel sick — and she treats you, and it doesn’t cost any money.
Okay, well, of course it costs money, and we are trying to explain to Rowan — good little socialists that we are — the concept of taxes, how we collectively pay for all these services, and isn’t that great? He got doubtful: would he have to pay tax when he picked up his books at the library? No, no, we said, it’s already paid for. It’s on us, kid. All of us.
Sometimes I forget these things, the treasures all around me. Watching him type each title into the browser, watching his awe and wonder at the sheer riches available to him, watching him devour three books in an evening and the fourth before school the next day and then order more, makes me indescribably happy.