The Santee Library used to exist at the midpoint of Magnolia, before the freeway overpasses were built and when Magnolia Avenue yawned its way though industrial offage and into El Cajon. The library was either a temporary building, or presented as such. It moved its quarters two decades ago and last I visited the building, it was a thrift store. I picked up a vintage typewriter there for forty bucks.
I’ve been trying to impress upon Cayden the habit of reading, because I used to check out the max amount of books from the old library, and from an early age.
Cayde is not exactly me, despite otherwise tellings; he recites dinosaur facts and beats me at twenty questions on the regular. (“False Killer Whale, Daddy–you lose”). I high-five his scien-terrificness but also tell him to stop jumping on the couch already. I have so for FIVE YEARS. But he keeps jumping on the couch, sometimes just to surprise me with a springboard hug.
“Hey, Cayde–would you read a book already?” I say in exasperation and from completely the wrong place. And he won’t because he’s not me and because he’s an absolutely social being. He needs a playmate wherein I just needed those 28 books from the library. He’ll color if he has a buddy with him; the room will be littered with books if he’s having discussion with friends (the last topic being Giganotosaurus vs. Ankylosaurus—surely you, too, have an opinion…).
The other night he was in his mismatched pajamas and I was again dissuading him from jumping on the couch, please and dammit, and he ran out the door, dirty-heeled. “Have to get something from the car, Daddy!” I heard the van door slide open, then those feet again, before Cayde burst back into the room.
“I’m at the part where Tumnus asks Lucy for tea!” My goodnight hug involved a casted-arm and a head ricocheting against my hip. “Night!”
I checked in later: ‘Narnia’ was on the floor and Cayde was snoring. I’ve always been an ‘Oz’ fan, but I tucked Cayde in tightly. It’s what the Tin Man would do, after all.


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