Illustration by Bob AulI was standing there in line at Sav-On with my hands full, thinking about dinner. That's when I heard that loud screaming. That child would not shut up. She screamed and cursed; I don't know how a four-year-old could know all those words. She was a cute one, though, all dressed up like a little princess with her leopard-print coat and beautiful long brown curls. Too bad about that mouth of hers. And you—her mother—just stood there behind me in line like you'd never seen this sort of behavior from your child before. You acted so proper and ladylike—such a good mother. Everybody was looking at you with empathy, as if you were so patient and caring. But your daughter kept screaming at you, yelling and making the most obnoxious slurs. You tried to calm her, saying you would not buy her anything if she kept up with that behavior. "You're tired," you said. "You need a timeout." You caressed her shiny hair. That's when she attacked you and said she'd bite you and run away from you never to be found. I thought that was a little strange, but I discarded my thoughts when the cashier handed me my change. I went on with my own business. I walked back to my car and hung my new vanilla-scented car freshener—when I heard more of your child's screaming. The noise came closer and closer until I saw you put your child in the back seat of the car right next to mine. You didn't see me, but I was watching you. That's when I saw you grab her little body, shake her with immense force, throw her against the back window and slap her repeatedly. I'm not talking about a harmless little swat on the butt to teach her a lesson; I'm talking about beating your child. You finally saw me looking at you in astonishment. Your beautiful child was crying now, and I felt bad for ever thinking she was a brat. I wanted to get out of my car and give you some of your own medicine, but I don't believe two wrongs make a right. That's why I wanted to let you know that I saw you, and though you seemed the perfect Mother Teresa, remember that what goes around comes around. Children have no way to defend themselves, but trust me: one day, you will pay for your abusive ways.
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