It was like every other Monday, packing the kids in the car to go grocery shopping. I reminded the boys that we couldn’t take the car cart because of the last time. They helped select fruit and bread. Tornado E danced among the aisles, and Tornado S took turns in the cart, in the seat, and out of the cart. They handled themselves pretty well, even though I though Tornado S was trying to knock over a jar of pasta sauce. I never want to experience the shame of telling costumer service about the mess my child made again.
We made it to the end. We were stuck behind two people with large baskets, but at least one was in the middle of checking out. I tend not to get anxious over waiting because I Always pick the wrong line. But a cashier took pity on me as I herded the boys away from the candy, the magazines, and the soda, asking me to follow her as she opened a lane. But the boys were ogling the soda in front of the cart; while three shoppers jumped at the new lane. I shrugged and told the woman behind me to go when she asked if I needed help. Now there was just one person in front in the middle of checking out. The woman behind me commented on how rude the cashier was not to make sure I got into the new lane. Oh, well.
I started to unpack the cart, using two hands, hoping to cram everything on quickly. The boys were still admiring the cold soda at the end cap. I was putting down the cheese and tortillas when a large man ran by, grabbing Tornado S.
My heart stopped. My eyes widened. I was a yard away from my baby. My momentum moved forward.
Then I realized neither Tornado E nor Tornado S screamed. I recognized that large back and those brown and grey curls.
“Hi, Dad. What are you doing here?”
“Your brother finally picked a type of cake for the reception on Saturday. Your mom was right behind me.”
“T. Stay with your daughter and help her watch the boys while I get the stuff I need. Fae, do you know if I’m out of milk?” my mom yelled as she strolled by us.
My heart had returned to normal. It’s not like kidnappers actually do a run-by-napping. They would lure the child away. But still. My baby was too far away from me to help. That’s frightening to me to think I won’t always be there to protect him, to shield him, to kick someone’s ass if needed. I’m not a superhero. But I wish I was.
Of course, I’ll never admit how scared I was to my dad. He’d only exploit that. He’ll probably get me one of these signs. You know: Caution, Kidnappers at Work.