When I got to the store check out the other day I lost Tiny-Small for 30 seconds. I may lose sleep over this one for weeks and weeks and weeks. That 30 seconds felt like at least two hours. I know it’s going to haunt me well into eternity, but at least she is safe and home now. I don’t think I have ever been so scared or so grateful!
I met my mom and my sister in the afternoon for a little “Ladies Day Out” kind of thing. Tiny-Small was there too of course, although she refused to act much like a lady. It was too hot to be outside so somehow or another we ended up at Kmart. Remember that store? We were all cracking jokes in the bra department. Tiny-Small was trying to wear bras on her head and kept throwing packages of underwear into the cart every chance she got. After a while, we somehow ended up sifting through racks and racks of clothing on clearance. My sister and I thought it might be fun to try some of the clothes on so we started piling things into our shopping cart. We chose clothes with fringe and oddly attached permanent, feather necklaces, bright orange one shoulder get-ups and even a few shirts with excess layers and wide belts. It was like going back in time to my childhood with these styles. We were giggling and having a great time. My mom decided to take Tiny-Small to the toy department after a while, because toddlers can only take looking at clothing for so long. After the period of “so long” has passed they just start screaming and rolling around on the floor with purple bras stuck to the top of their heads.
My sister and I went into the dressing room and took turns modeling our outfits. We looked like Olivia Newton John wanna-beeze and at some point I declared I wanted to star in any future remakes of the movie Greece. I am sure my sister rolled her eyes at that one. Finally, she and I came out in matching shirts that tied at the waist and accidentally exposed our less than perfect midriffs. It was time to go.
My mom and Tiny-Small showed up exclaiming they were both thirsty and hungry. We had been there for hours. Everyone wanted to go home. All I went in there for was baby wipes and so we headed to the front of the store to get checked out.
As I got to the check-out counter I set Tiny-Small down on the ground next to me, turned to get something out of my cart and then turned back. In that nanosecond, she was gone. I mean gone, no where to be seen gone. I looked up and down the front of the store, up and down the check out aisles, and scanned every little nook and corner I thought she might be hiding in or exploring. Within seconds, panic had set in. Meanwhile, my mom and sister were waiting in line behind my now abandoned cart chatting away and laughing. They were completely unaware that anything was wrong. I felt like I was having one of those dreams where you can’t speak or move fast enough. You’ve probably experienced those dreams: When it feels like you are trying to walk through water and you appear to be screaming really loudly, but only a tiny peep escapes from your lips and you move in slow motion? That’s exactly what it was like, except this was real.
Finally, I noticed the front door to the store opened and closed by itself. I ran to it and there in the lobby of Kmart was Tiny-Small standing in front of all of the gumball machines talking away to the little toys and candies she dreamed of holding in her very own hands some day. My heart lurched, and then started beating again. There she was, just a few feet away from running into a crowded parking lot with so many, many moving cars, but still, THERE SHE WAS! I said a prayer of thanks that she was unharmed and moved quickly toward her. Then I took her hand in mine and told her in a very stern voice, the kind parents use when they are scared to death, that she needed to stay with me.
We went back to the cashier and nobody seemed to even notice what had just happened. The cashier wasn’t even finished wringing up my baby wipes. That’s how quickly this all went down. As we walked to the car I told my mom and sister about what had just happened. My mom was shocked and exclaimed, “But, where was I?” I told her she was standing right there, talking the whole time. My sister suggested we get one of those leash things for kids. I did my best not to throw up.
I’m not sure what I will do with Tiny-Small now when we go to the store. I will probably make her stay seated in the shopping cart for a while. I’m not sure I could stand losing her again (even for only 30 seconds). That was a terrifying 30 seconds. It’s hard to believe the human brain can imagine so many horrible scenarios in such a short amount of time, but mine sure did. I’m just so grateful for those gumball machines. If those gumballs weren’t distracting and eye-catchingly placed by the door (thank you product placement gods) I am sure Tiny-Small would have been outside wandering in the parking lot. I can’t even think about what could have happened then.