I choose the moment based on kid moodiness, hunger, other errands, and the great force of gravity known as nap time. Then I load the returns in the stroller-flaunting the overdue items, knowing I can pay the fines online-and truck the kids in. I can almost hear the book-return slot say "feed me" (with either Alice in Wonderland or Little Shop of Horrors inflections, depending on my mood) as I empty my tote bag.
I fetch the books I've requested and glance at what a friend of mine has waiting to pick up (today, it's the I Am Legend DVD). Then I'm free to wander with my one-year-old daughter while keeping an eye on my son at the computers. Ten minutes of browsing, and I feel cleansed of the dirt of the world. So far, no one has lost control-and I'm having a blast.
[Originally published in June, 2009.]