Yesterday afternoon I was emptying my desktop trash (I’m notorious for throwing out things I need) and when I checked the folder I found some files with the extension marked .movie. And the preview showed an image of my daughter, wearing pajamas, her father’s big black headphones over her tiny ears. Because I’m her mother, and because it’s my computer, I dragged one of the files from the trash and pushed play, and watched as this shrimp, this 8-year-old babygirl, MY girl, watched her reflection on the computer camera screen as she sang along to a music video about boys and heartbreak and not knowing better and knowing better now. Lips were pursed. Hands were “talked to.” Shoulders were shrugged and shimmied, her long curly hair whipping back and forth.
I gasped, and my eyes filled with tears, and I laughed, and watched in awe. If you have kids you know these moments, these times when you see a video of them or you eavesdrop and hear them singing in their room or you read a poignant school journaling assignment or you overhear them speaking to a friend. Times when you feel your heart could burst with these emotions that fill your chest and threaten to escape from your rib cage like birds who have been caged too long. My baby.
But towards the end of the video she sort of frowned at herself, dissatisfied with her private karaoke moment, the utter joy at singing along with her jam forgotten as she maybe caught a glimpse of something she disliked about her face, maybe the hair she always begs me to straighten because her friends and Barbie don’t have hair like her. I don’t know.
When she came home I wanted to ask her, I wanted to show her the video and tell her how awesome I think she is, tell her she did a good job with carrying a tune, ask her why she frowned when she was done. But this was not my moment, and it was bad enough I had watched her video. But then again, my daughter, my house, my computer and all the parents know these days this sort of snooping is allowed. So I didn’t mention it, and I just hugged her very hard and helped with homework.