It never fails. The wife leaves town, leaving the children to my tender mercies, and I promptly demonstrate that I should not be trusted to care for a pet rock.
So I get the children up and dressed and slopped and off to school. Abby is being a little demon all morning — whining, refusing to listen, disobeying, abusing her brother, testing me. I'm well sick of it by the time we get to school.
We get to her classroom and she wanders over to a table with some other kids. I have my back to them and am signing her in while Evan prowls the class looking for things to break.
Suddenly I hear a boy's shriek "mine! mine! give it back!"
I turn around and see, from behind, a little black-haired girl in a familiar pink top clutching a book that she's obviously just ripped from the clutches of a sad-faced little boy. Abby's been grabbing things from Evan all morning.
I march up behind her, grab her by the shoulders, lift her bodily, and say sternly "YOUNG LADY, YOU ARE IN TIME OUT. YOU HAVE LOST TV FOR THE WEEK. I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF YOUR BEHAVIOR TODAY."
She turns her innocent blue eyes on me.
At this point I see Abby sitting on a couch looking at a puzzle. She regards me quizically. The little girl I am holding and scolding is some other little girl. Her head looks similar from the back and she is wearing a pink blouse that looks like Abby's. Of course, since I dressed Abby about a half-hour before, I should remember that she's wearing a blue dress today.
Then Mamma Bear comes out of my blind spot like a banshee locomotive. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH MY DAUGHTER? PUT HER DOWN!" She grabs my arm and digs nails into it.
A gently put the little girl down and apologize profusely. Mom is not molified and tells me not to touch her daughter.
I wish Abby goodbye and beat an ignominious retreat.
As I walked to Evan's class, he turns to me and says, "Daddy, who was that girl? Were you mad at her?"
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