Thursday, June 24, 2010


“Hi,” she said, rather cheerily. “My name’s Jane. I’m here with my mom. She’s over there by the new books. Know what I have?”

“No, I don’t know,” I said. And I wondered what about my busy-ness and cluttered table at the library made her think I wanted a conversation just then. But having raised three magnificent daughters, I guess I just automatically went into daddy mode. “What do you have?”

“I have a license,” she said.

“What kind of license?” I asked.

“I have a license to cry,” she said, as if it were a state secret.

“A what?” I asked, not sure if she said what it sounded like.

“A license to cry,” she said, almost in a whisper.

“Can I see it?”

“Oh no, sir. It’s too special to carry around with me. That’s what my mom says.”

“And do you cry a lot, now that you have a license?”

“Oh no, sir. My mom says if I cry without a really good reason, I might lose my license. So I cry only when I really have to.”

“Oh-h-h. That’s really something.”

“Yeah. I cried only a little bit this morning because I snubbed my toe and it hurt a lot.”

By this time her mom had also stopped by my table. “Jane isn’t bothering you, is she?”

“Not at all,” I said, trying to sound as convincing as I could. “She was just telling me about her license to cry.”

“Yes, and she’s very good about not using it too much.” She looked at her daughter and smiled. Then added, “She’s getting to be a big girl. Come on, hon. We have to go now.”

“Goodbye, sir,” Jane told me. “It was nice talking to you.”

“And it was very nice talking with you, Jane. Bye-bye.”

As they were leaving, I couldn’t help but think how nice it would be if more kids were as polite as Jane and didn’t abuse their license to cry. In fact, I thought of a number of kids whose license I would like to immediately revoke. Especially that kid throwing the tantrum near the reference desk.

Parenting is not easy. But when it’s done right, it is definitely rewarding.


  1. Jane sounds like the 1 in a 1,000 kid that everybody else wishes they had. My kids are definitely not like that.

  2. Well, maybe not. But if they're young enough there is still time to work toward that end.