I Accidentally Got My Five-Year-Old Into Debt

We all make mistakes. Some we have a bad gut feeling about from the very beginning; others just seem really adorable starting out. 
 
August 28, 2013:
I’m at the library with my adorable and highly opinionated 11-month-old. We come here often for toddler time and the opportunity to make messes outside of our own home. We check out a MOUNTAIN of books, because at this stage of parenting, it’s easy to hold down my kid with some clever arm placement and demand that she listen to my stories. Also, she doesn’t know about Netflix yet.
 
Now, I don’t like to be held responsible for most of what I did two or three years ago because I can rarely remember what I did or why I did it. Seriously, thank google for remembering all my passwords, because all that brain space has gone to keeping up with what foods my toddler likes this week. Am I past the expiration date for blaming it all on pregnancy brain?  
 
But for some reason on this fateful day, I sign up my almost-two-year-old for her own library card. Yep, it’s the adorable-ness factor that gets me. “Oh my God, look at her scanning the books all by herself! My goodness, she doesn’t even have an ID yet! Look at her with her very own library card! With her own name on it! She’s so grown-up!”
 
Seems harmless, right?
 
[Cue slowly intensifying and frightful-sounding music.]
 
***
Things are all right for awhile. She has a card, I have a card. Chances are that when we are at the library, one of us has a card on us. At some point I stop caring whose is whose (I guess the cuteness factor wears off—I’ll be darned!) and start swiping whichever card is most readily available. 
 
September 23, 2017:
A play date is impending. It’s time to do some damage control in my house and swoop the items with the most disaster potential into dark corners, closed closets, or bolted cabinets. LEGOs? Locked up. Glitter? Hidden far inside the cabinet. Bag of library books? Goodness knows I don’t want those getting mixed up with the regular books! I toss them into a closet sheer moments before the sticky-fingered little monster arrives for a play date. 
 
September–October 2017:
You know that nagging feeling in the back of your mind when you just know something is off? When you think you might be forgetting something?
Yeah, I didn’t feel that at all. Ignorance is bliss. 
 
Mid-October 2017:
Winter is coming. It’s time to swap out the rompers and sundresses in my daughters closet for slightly warmer rompers and sundresses and maybe a light sweater (I mean, it’s San Antonio after all). I like to embark on this little journey with a glass of wine and a good cry over the fact that my child has once again outgrown her entire wardrobe. I start feeling all sentimental about PB&J stains on t-shirts. In the middle of my routine, I spot an  object tucked in a dark corner of her closet. What is that—a bag of old clothes? Stuffed animals I was trying to smuggle out of our home? Upon closer inspection I learn it is a PILE of library books. Where did these stowaways come from? How long have they been here? I can’t even recall the last time I was in the library!
 
October 15, 2017:
As soon as the sun rises and the doors open, I rush to the library. I mull over possible horror stories in my mind that might buy me some grace with the librarian:
 
“Our house burned down…and all we saved were the books…and we have been living on the streets…and I finally walked all the way over here to return these!”
“We have a ghost in our house that does mildly-annoying-but-not-really-scary things. It moves all of our furniture around one inch at a time, and it hid these books from us!”
 
In the end, I tell the truth with a minor dramatic flare and hope the librarian is feeling forgiving. She takes my book mountain out of my hands, blows off the dust, and starts tallying my fees. She turns to me and starts apologizing before she even mentions any numbers. I think I see her wince. “I’m sorry it’s a lot,” she says. “Unfortunately, you won’t be able to check out any books until it’s paid down, but you can make payments. You owe fifty-six dollars and forty cents.”
 
I don’t know why, but I feel the need to impress this woman. I want to be super casual about my horrendous library fees and play it off like this is something I do on the reg—as if just for fun, I hide library books around my house and see how long it take my mom brain to remember where they are. I don’t know what my lie face looks like on the outside, but it feels super wrong on the inside. From the inside, my lie face feels like it has hot sauce all over it, and I can’t remember how many blinks per minute is the normal human amount, how fast my heart should be beating, or what I should do with all my fingers. Ten is a lot of fingers when you’re suddenly hyper aware of all of them! “Oh, that’s cool. Cool, cool, coooooooool. Yeah, no biggie! I’ll just take care of that, like, tomorrow, er, whatev…”
 
At this point, I drive off. Have I mentioned that our library is a drive-through? Yeah, it’s super great for when your kids are napping or when you want to avoid awkward interaction over record-breaking library fees.
 
On the drive home, I ponder, Who really needs libraries anyway? It’s not like I need to ever go back there. We do have internet after all. 
 
Sure, $56.40 might not break the bank, but I’d prefer to pay off the librarian in tacos and coffee rather than forking over nearly $60 for books I’m pretty sure we never even got around to reading. Can I get a tax break on that? Can I count these books as dependents? I’ve never even bought a book that costs more than $30!
 
When I get home, I decide I need to see these fees totaled up with my own eyes to confirm their authenticity. I grab my laptop and go to log in. “Login failed” appears on the screen. What? Did I type something wrong? I type my card number and username again, this time with a bit more caution. “Login failed” again!
 
Oh no, ohhhhhhh, no, no, no, maybe the charges are on my daughter’s card? Yep, fears are confirmed by the screen before me once I log in with her info: My five-year-old owes the San Antonio Public Library $56.40—or, in tooth fairy currency, a whole row of teeth. 
 
Feel free to nominate me for any Mom of the Year awards, or PM me if you would like advice on finding obscure methods to get your own child into debt. 

2 Responses to I Accidentally Got My Five-Year-Old Into Debt

  1. Linda Nairn March 28, 2018 at 11:27 am #

    Dear Anna,
    I have two suggestions:
    One – have a regular place for your library books. I keep mine in a tote bag on the doorknob on the back of the door to the dining room. (I have no idea why there is a door there. It never gets closed.)
    Two – be sure that the library has an email address for you. And use your email address for your child’s account also. The library will send you an email three days before your library item is due. They also will include a link to their website where you can easily renew the item – Voila! three more weeks to find it and return it.)
    Hope these help.

    • Anna Angenend
      Anna Angenend March 29, 2018 at 10:57 pm #

      Hello Linda! Thank you so much. Since this incident, I have gained a thirty-one bag that is great for holding all our library books! Yes, that’s a such a good point! I realized they had an old e-mail address for me, so I updated it. Hoping to avoid any accidents like this in the future! Thanks for reading!