A safe haven

A mother comes in with her young daughter, and it looks like an ordinary enough scene: they enter the large, square room that is the Children’s
Library, the daughter runs to the brightly coloured table and chairs in the centre
to do some colouring in, whilst the mother sits at one of the tables in the
corner. The mother nods and smiles at the librarian, looks at her phone, then pulls out a text book and reads quietly. After about 30 minutes, the daughter comes to her with a choice of children’s books and they speak a little. The mother puts down her heavy text, picks up one of the brightly coloured books offered to
her, and begins to slowly say the words on each page. But something about this
scene is different, and it’s only when I see the spine of the mother’s text
book that I fully understand. The textbook is English for Beginners, and what I
have been witnessing is, every few words, the daughter correcting her mother’s
English.

After watching them, I am left with many questions: what is this woman’s story? Why does her daughter know more English than her? Where would they go to do this, if not here? I didn’t approach them, as my blundering attempts to engage would have burst their contemplative bubble. But that scene has stayed with me, and more than that, it’s shown me that this space is a safe haven for people to come and work, in whatever capacity and with whoever they like, without any judgement.

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