She used to be so little

I shouldn’t have left him alone. I should have known better. That was risky. But I had a line up of customers waiting for me, keeping them waiting while he took his own sweet time wasn’t right either. So I walked away and left him alone.She used to be so little

He had walked into the store like many others: “I’d like to watch these Hi8 tapes, want to see what they are before I spend money transferring them to DVD.”

So I set him up at a station with a Hi8 tape player. He must have had a dozen tapes, some Sony Hi8, some 8mm tapes, a couple of VHS tapes. When he saw other customers come in the store, he said, “You take care of them, I know how to press the Rewind and Play buttons.” So I left him alone.

After I took care of the line of customers, I came back to check up on him. It couldn’t be more than 15-20 minutes.

He was hunched up, head bowed, hands rubbing the bridge of his nose. He seemed startled to see me, obviously his videos had taken him somewhere else, a long ago place, a long ago time. And he was crying. His face was a blend of pain and pride. I could barely make out his words, “She used to be so little.” I looked at the video player and I saw a chubby, curly haired, toddler waddling through the screen, dragging a toy duckie.

I said, “Well, I’m sorry, you shouldn’t have blinked. That’s what happens when you blink – they turn into teenagers. You blink twice, they are young adults.”

Turns out, his daughter is still 13. Still lots of opportunities to enjoy her before he’ll be saying in a few years, “She used to be a teenager …”.

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