"Mom, you're being grumpy and you told me to tell you when you're being grumpy and so I'm telling you you're being GRUMPY!"
Her voice escalated as she gasped for air in between sobs.
I'd lost my temper with her, a mostly innocent bystander to my attempt at making it through a phone call without being interrupted by shrieking matches and no less than 12 requests for snacks by her brother who had just eaten his entire lunch only minutes prior.
It wasn't her fault. It rarely ever is.
But she was laying there, still sock and shoeless after my numerous requests, and caught the tail end of my wrath.
After an embarrassing temper tantrum brought on by attempting to put mittens on my son a few weeks ago, I told her that she had my permission to put me in my place - not necessarily making her responsible for her behavior, but encouraging her to stand up for herself, and call the "bullshit" when she sees it.
Even on her own mother.
Though my husband is an active, involved parent when he is here, he's often gone, and I remain the constant for the kids, my feet dug deep into the trenches of teaching them the small intricacies, nuances, and gray areas of growing up.
There are days that I envy his position, a parental visitor of sorts, the fun one who comes home with presents and lets them stay up late and play Beatles Rock Band way past their bedtime.
On others, when I can step away from the work and laundry piles and enjoy their essence, I enjoy our little foursome, our merry band of two girls, a boy, and their moody leader.
But it weighs on me - this responsibility of ensuring that they are open and able to express how they feel, to sometimes deal with the consequences ("Tell me you're sorry for yelling at me, Mommy" my son says), and yes, to be comfortable to tell her mommy when she's "being grumpy."
Apparently I've also taught her how to sugarcoat things.