Taking Care

This little boy came into my store with tears yelping how he couldn't find his dad. I forgot what I was doing before that, what I was supposed to be doing. But as soon as I heard his cries, nothing else mattered to me at that moment.

I was able to comfort him somewhat, we did some breathing exercises, but he was pretty hysterical the whole time. He tried to get me to call his dad, so I ran to get our wireless store phone. I gave him the phone, which in retrospect, wasn't the best idea, but he tried to remember and key in his dad's phone number anyway. He got frustrated, saying he couldn't remember and handed the phone back to me. He murmured how his dad could already be gone and tried to run out of the store and I had to stop him. I'd like to think the place I work at isn't prone to child abduction, but getting an Amber alert that morning didn't really keep me at ease.

At the store entrance, I lightly held him by his shoulders and kneeled to his level. I asked him his name, and through sobs, he told me. I told him mine. I said everything is going to be alright. I hugged him and patted his back. I told him that we'd find his dad. The boy stopped crying suddenly, and quite serendipitously, I turned around to find his father outside of the store's entrance. He wasn't even facing his kid. His back was to him, only his face was craned to his son with an unforgiving look and flared nostrils.

Part of me felt happy to see him reunited. But part of me wanted to be with him longer and have him calm down and maybe make him smile. I think he was wearing a Spiderman t-shirt. I wanted to ask him what he thought about Spiderman. I wanted to show him we had cool spiderweb shoes and a Spiderman backpack. Did he want to be Spiderboy or his own new superhero?

I remember my parents giving me that look when I was that age and even into my adolescence. I would always feel so unwanted. But even though I felt like shit, I felt better seeing them because they were home to me.

The boy didn't say bye to me — which is fine. His father said thank you. But I didn't want a thank you from either of them. I wanted to know that this man would be a loving father.

I wonder if this kid will remember me when he's older, or if he'll wake up tomorrow morning and forget my name and the breathing exercise we practiced.

I hope he's okay. I hope he'll be okay.