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Parents

To the Woman Who Yelled at my Daughter

It’s not like I don’t know that my kids are incredibly annoying.

What follows is an open letter to the woman who yelled at my daughter tonight in the grocery store for almost-but-not-really touching her ice cream:

First, let me say: if your week was anything like mine ― s**t, if your LIFE is anything like mine ― I get why you are so attached to the ice cream.

Just last night I brought a half gallon of ice cream to bed with me, and I mean that in a completely no-kink way. That ice cream was a lifeline, a mother f-ing coping mechanism, and I should be able to claim it as such on my health insurance.

Actually that would come in handy because that s**t was expensive, all “premium” and “natural,” which really just means it had only five ingredients and three of them were fat.

My point is: I get you, sister. Life is hard. Thank sweet Jesus for frozen dairy.

Secondly, it’s not like I don’t know that my kids are incredibly annoying. THEY’RE KIDS. Taking the four of them to Wegmans by myself is right up there on my “things I like to do” list somewhere in between pap smear (getting, not giving) and stabbing myself repeatedly in the eyeball with a spork.

By the time you and I were blessed with each other’s company in the check out aisle tonight I had already lost 82 percent of my voice screaming at them to stop:

(a) touching each other

(b) touching me

(c) touching everything else

(d) screaming

(e) running away

(f) lying on the floor

(g) pretending they were Kevin McAllister from “Home Alone” and telling people they were lost.

By aisle 2 I was tired enough to seriously contemplate a nap in the bakery (where it smelled like I imagine heaven smells and the kaiser rolls are soft enough to make a lovely pillow). By midway through our trip my face had reverted to the expression it still had when I met your eyes, which I lovingly refer to as “If you come any closer I will ugly cry snot right onto your shirt I AM WARNING YOU.”

But, ice cream lady, here’s the thing. When we got back home and after I had a glass of wine and an obscene amount of carbs, I remembered that I am madly, deeply in love with that girl you yelled at.

More importantly, SHE’S SIX. And a lot of the time, but most especially when she is sleeping (like now) and her eyelashes are so long that they almost touch her cheeks and she *might* be wearing both a bathing suit and ear muffs at the same time, I remember how important it is that we ― and that’s the collective we so it includes you too ― let her know how it’s OK and even kind of awesome to be different.

So yeah, frankly, that wasn’t cool.

Sure, she’s got more than a pinch of the crazy spice in her. And yes, I too would have some concerns about where her fingers had been before they got so alarmingly close to your iced salvation.

But let’s be real here. Even though she was elaborately pretending to touch your ice cream while singing a song about touching your ice cream, she didn’t touch your ice cream and she wasn’t gonna. I can say that without any hesitation for this one very important reason (the thing that makes me wonder if maybe you and me aren’t as sister-y as I hoped we were): Your ice cream was low fat.

Yuck.

Anyway, I don’t know if you have kids or not. At first I assumed you didn’t, and figured that explained why you looked at us like we had crawled up from the bowels of the sewer to buy some kale and chocolate chip cookies.

And then I thought that had to be wrong because people who don’t have kids usually back slowly away from us like we are wearing T-shirts that happily proclaim we are lepers or worse, those placards that advertise the impending end of days.

But not you.

You came right up behind us and smugly loaded on up, and I figure that means only one thing: You have kids, but they are not little anymore, and you have forgotten.

You got a tad high and mighty because you probably get to sleep a little more these days and there isn’t as much s**t-wiping as there used to be and if your kids are out of your sight for, say, 30 seconds you don’t have to worry if they are broken beyond repair and more importantly if it is your fault.

So let me be the one to remind you about the exhaustion and the constant sense that you are completely and utterly failing. How about this: I haven’t slept through the night in ― I kid you not ― 11 years.

Let me also tell you that if I’m right, if you are a mama too, then this is worse somehow. You and I really SHOULD be sisters. You should be waiting to catch my eye and giving me that look that says “I survived. You will too. I got you.” And then you should even offer me your shirt to ugly cry on, should that become necessary.

But you didn’t do that. You snarked at my baby, and by definition at me too, and that tidal wave of defeat that generally laps tamely at my ankles as I slog through the day washed over me and knocked me right over.

Don’t feel too bad though. I’m mostly back up again, and not even really because I wanted to be but because if I don’t get up no one will take their showers and they are approximately a week-and-a-half overdue.

Also the world is already hard and scary enough and it needs my righteousness and anger like it needs a spork in the eyeball.

So listen, sister. I have ice cream here, the real kind with lots of fat, and I’m happy to share it. Stop over anytime.

Also Gabby most definitely stuck her fingers in it. Hopefully just her fingers, but no promises.

Liz is a writer, blogger, teller of stories, believer in truth, and mama to four. She shares her stories on lizpetrone.com and all over the internet. She can also be found on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.