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Displaced Emotions

I did something yesterday I'm not proud of. I keep replaying the cringy details of the scene in my mind as one does when we do things we wish we could erase from history. It's been awhile since I posted, so let's start with a little background.

I currently spend a large chunk of my day under the kitchen table. It's not what you think - I'm not hiding. Though if no one found me I wouldn't complain. I camp out there because I'm on marker cap duty. The twins are quarantined (as is standard practice these days) and have claimed the kitchen table as their "classroom".

Try as I might, I can't find a way to prevent their supplies from constantly rolling off the table. A constant stream of pencils, white board erasers, markers, papers, flashcards, and the occasional frosted flake plummet in steady succession so I don't bother moving. I'm the supply bitch.

I am interrupted only by the occasional technical difficulty or, as was the case today, a gentle coddle (the teacher asked where the kids keep all the little paper books they bring home from school and Eleanor tearfully explained that mommy threw them all away. In my defense, the twins are the fourth and fifth born and everyone knows you don't save ANYTHING for kids that far down the line. I probably have all Abigail's kindergarten paper books arranged alphabetically in her gigantic memory box in the attic). #momfail

After a long day at my new post, I loaded the girls into the car for a fun trip to get their required Covid test. They're not new to the process. For numerous reasons, they have endured QTips up their noses at varying levels of discomfort and were convinced the impending test would involve a cotton swab to the brain. To quell their fears, I did what any sane parent would do and promised a post brain-probe visit to Dunkies.

Which brings me to the incident. Oh, and for the record, the test, according to the girls was the "best one yet." Score. So regrettably, the Dunkins I selected did not have a drive through. The girls were technically supposed to be quarantined, plus it was heavily raining so bringing them inside seemed foolish. Luckily, there are these things called apps which allow you to order from the comfort of your car and dart in for only a few seconds to procure, in this case, lavishly decorated frozen drinks chock full of sugar. With the push of a few buttons, my order was placed, and we waiting a very long seven minutes until the drinks were ready. Meanwhile, another car had pulled up beside me so I made a big show of pointing the key fob at the car and locking it as I raced inside leaving the girls vulnerable to lurking kidnappers.

No sooner had my hand opened the giant "D" on the Dunkin door, that I heard a loud beep sound from the direction of the parking lot. I immediately assumed it was the woman who had pulled up next to me, berating me for leaving two young, innocent children unattended in the car. I was shaking mad. Livid. The horn continued to blast long, loud beeps directed at me - the terrible, terrible mom. Obviously, the woman was trying to get the attention of anyone in the vicinity. 'Look what she's done!' she would tell the cops when they arrived and they would throw me against my car and cuff me as the girls watched in horror from the confines of the locked car. I nearly spilled the beautiful drinks as I grabbed them and raced back out, triumphantly glaring at the whistleblower (or in this case, horn blower). 'See lady? I was in and out in eight seconds flat. No way could someone have broken into my car and seized my kids so quickly.' The honking stopped and I threw open my car door, still furious and actually considering confronting her.

And then I got my opportunity. She got out of her car and started to make her way toward the big pink D. As she passed my car, without thinking it through, I got out and accosted her. "Do you have a problem?" I spat. Although since I'm not a very confrontational person, what I wanted to come out in the tone of Samantha, was likely way more Charlotte. My pulse was racing and I could feel my face flush. She didn't take the bait. Weird. I thought she'd be rearing to go with a full-on lecture about the perils of child rearing. "My problem?" she asked, seeming genuinely confused. Any shrivel of bad-ass persona I might have had was squandered, but I carried on. "Yeah. You were honking at me." Now she looked less confused and more annoyed. "That was your car," she replied, her tone mirroring her demeanor. Oh. My. God. I tried to offer an apology, but the rain was coming down in sheets and I had already held this lady hostage with my accusations long enough for her to be pretty soaked. I skulked back into the driver's seat wondering what the hell kind of alarm system sounds when you lock the car, at which point, pipsqueak (aka Eleanor) proudly confessed that she was the culprit of the horn blasting. I almost strangled her.

I was still shaking as I drove off, mortified about what had just transpired. How had I gotten it so wrong? It was my personal paranoia about what people think about me leaving the kids in the car for five (ok eight) seconds that made me lose any semblance of reality. I had completely displaced my personal issues onto this poor woman, who, no doubt was just as shaken by my accusations as I had been at my imagined berating.

There was only one way to stop the cringy replays in my mind and that was to write about it. Only in sharing my humiliation could I begin to laugh and hopefully learn from it. And if anyone happens to know a woman who was wrongfully accused of blaring her horn in the middle of a downpour, kindly share my story. I'm deeply sorry.

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