Like any good smackdown, it happened on a Wednesday.
Let me tell you something about Zoe. This girl is a charmer. At home? Total terror. In public? Instant sweetheart, people magnet, and reason women say their ovaries are exploding. Strangers flock to her like moths to a flame. bees to honey, Kardashians to a flashbulb. She says her cute little hi to every moving object within 10 feet, and if you deliberately ignore her, I’ll kick you in the teeth. In my mind.
On this particular Wednesday, due to a case of increasing fatigue (mine) and depleting blood sugar (hers), the charm started to wear off. She tried to stand in the cart. I semi successfully tried to coax her back down. She begged me to hold her. I told her that the accessory of “toddler hanging from my neck” didn’t quite go with my outfit. She wasn’t having it.
Then I did the unthinkable.
I put a 2 lb block of cheddar cheese in my cart.
I’ll give that time to sink in.
The world was starting to fade at her increasing hunger (cue the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” memo), but not enough that she didn’t start feverishly demanding that I hand her the cheese.
So I handed her the cheese. Problem solved. And I waited for my adorable toddler to come back and shower me with affection and all of the onlookers to bask in my mothering skills.
But instead she was all, “Open this damn cheese, woman!”
And in my best motherly, sing songy, please-don’t-embarrass-me-in-public voice, I was all, “Zoe, I can’t open the cheese here, honey. We’ll just have to wait until we get home! Mkay? Mkay! ”
So then she was all, “NOOOOOOOO! Sslkngdvegnlkaslknelh!” Which loosely translates to “Open this motherbleeping cheese right now or I will cut you with the fingernails you have neglected to trim for weeks!” It’s true. I rarely remember to trim any of my kids’ nails until one of them claws me in the face.
I did my best to ignore her pleas in the most motherly of fashions: by giving her a good old pat on the head, followed by a sympathetic “Oh, honey,” as I continued pushing the cart. But inside I was begging for her to just forget about the damn cheese.
Can I also mention that we were at Costco on the one day when the only samples in sight are beef jerky and some stank French cheese that even the cheese lover herself wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole? I should have told them we were coming so they could prepare the goldfish crackers.
So I walked on with my cart, my cheese, and my inconsolable tiny dictator down the aisle to the milk that I buy four gallons at a time.
While Zoe continued to think I was just being a bitch about the cheese, I stood waiting for another mom to grab her own bulk milk. Her daughter, trying to figure out why she was thrashing about the cart, incredulously looked Zoe up and down.
This, my friends, was a bad idea. There she sat, sucking on her drink, smugly eating her snacks. Like a blonde, blue eyed instigator, staring at my child who already thought that the entire food related world was against her.
Let me tell you: Zoe has two older sisters. Also known as: She doesn’t take any shit.
“NO!” She screamed, pointing an accusatory finger at Blondie.
In stepped Gentle, Loving Intervention Mom (that’s me), “Zoe, calm down…she’s not doing anything to you. Oooh look at the pen! Want to play with Mommy’s phone? Here! Let’s –”
“Zoe! Stop that.”
I turned around just in time to see Blondie pulling her nasty, germ ridden, and probably forked tongue back into her mouth while simultaneously giving my daughter the stink eye.
Oh hell no she did not just do the preschool spit at my child. Sitting there nicely, shoving your good behavior in our faces while eating your delectable treats in front of my starving child wasn’t enough, huh?
As Zoe screamed more at the insult, I chucked my 2lb block of cheese at Blondie’s head and shook those adorable pigtails loose. In my mind.
I told Zoe to calm down as I made eye contact with Blondie’s mom (who was not a Blondie herself) and gave her my best “I’m a mom, you’re a mom, hey aren’t these kids just so silly???” look.
The woman looked right through me and pushed her cart on down the aisle. Her nose was so high in the air, I’m sure she could have gotten down that pallet of bottled water from the top shelf.
What the hell? I don’t know about you, but I expect a little camaraderie from moms with similar aged kids, especially when they do things that are so ridiculous and just plain little kid like. You may think less of me for having a child that points and screams NO at your child (which she learned from her sisters, but your kid did kind of have a creepy stare. Whatever), but at least I didn’t disregard her spitting at another adorable, albeit equally instigating little girl. And don’t tell me you didn’t hear it. Come on. I think the people over in the bulk electronics heard that, dear.
I finally made it to the snack area where I tore open a box of organic, all natural fruit leather faster than you can say “organic, all natural fruit leather” and handed it over to Zoe, who was wasting away before my very eyes. All was well, and she was able to turn the charm back on long enough for us to check out and book it to the car.
And who do I see loading up her bulk snobbery into her own car, parked right next to mine, but Blondie and her non Blondie mom, who of course still ignored me, but whatever. My child was happy again, and I was feeling friendly. Generous even. Maybe if I caught her eye I could give her another smile, mention how silly these darn kids are. I mean, what’s the point in harboring this hostility towards one another?
But then she took her cart, walked it a few feet, and parked it next to the curb, in the middle of the parking lot.
As I walked my cart back to that wacky and apparently invisible “Cart Return,” I knew I had to let it go. It wasn’t meant to be. I now knew that she just plain lacked common decency.
And I may have stuck my tongue out at her as I drove past. In my mind.