You’ve probably heard it said, “Never come between a she-Johnson and her cubs.”

A Brown County woman apparently never got that message.

When the woman started cursing up a storm one recent afternoon in a Brownwood store, two other women’s law enforcement instincts kicked in. These women — both named Johnson — told the potty mouth to tone it down.

Potty cursed even more, and she smacked her shopping cart into a cart that the held the Johnson women’s two children. The kids didn’t get hurt, but they got knocked around pretty good.

Oh, my. Big mistake. Now the two mothers’ maternal instincts kicked in — big time — and they wanted to deck Potty. They restrained themselves and called for help from Brownwood police, who took Potty to jail for disorderly conduct.

“She doesn’t know how close she came,” one of the Johnsons, a detective in a north Texas police department, told the other Johnson, who lives in Brown County, as the two women talked about the incident after it was over.

“My gosh, I’ve never had those mother instincts kick in,” she told the Brown County Johnson. “That was scary.”

The Brown County Johnson in not a law enforcement officer, but she works in law enforcement (she axed me to leave it at that). Her spouse is a lawman.

“There’s nothing you wouldn’t do for your children,” the Brown County Johnson, a 38-something-year-old, told me in an exclusive interview. “(Maternal instincts are) indescribable. There’s nothing like the love or the bond between a mother and a child. The claws came out. You could see them popping out — ding! Ding!

“ …You can do and say what you want to me, but don’t mess with my kids.”

I can relate, I told Johnson, for I, too, am a mother. “I know you are,” Johnson said. “I’ve read your little stories.”

The north Texas Johnson and her family — husband and 3-year-old daughter — were visiting in Brown County when this all happened. She and her daughter accompanied the Brown County Johnson and 6-year-old son on a shopping trip.

The trouble started, don’t you know, when Potty caused a long delay at the register because her debit card wouldn’t debit, and she called someone on a cell phone to get the pin number. She cursed, and cursed some more when the clerk politely told her she couldn’t hold up the line any longer.

“Fine, (expletive), keep you (expletive) stuff,” Potty said, according to a report by officer Dustin Bode.

The Brown County Johnson said, “hey, can you watch your mouth? I’ve got my kids here.”

Potty apparently didn’t like that, and she ratcheted up the cursing, saying at one point: “(Expletive) you, I am an adult woman and I can do whatever the (expletive) I want!”

How incredibly mature.

After she pushed her cart into the one with the Johnsons’ children, Johnson confronted her but refrained from taking Potty to duke city. “All you can think about is protecting those children,” she said.

Potty, meanwhile, left the store, continuing to curse. She couldn’t go anywhere just yet, though, as she had to wait for a ride. A ride showed up, all right — a ride to jail.

“The officers are standing there, and she’s running her mouth … weh-weh-weh-weh …” Johnson said.

Potty apparently pretty much gave the same account of the incident to Bode. “I know it is wrong to curse in front of children, but I have always cursed in front of my children,” she told Bode.

Johnson said since she works in law enforcement, it was enlightening to see the officers at work from the perspective of the “complainant.”

“They were very professional,” she said. “They treated me as anybody else. They were not going to hear me without hearing her.”

Johnson said when she told the story to her lawman husband, he was proud of her for keeping her composure during the incident. “I held my composure to show my respect for the job that I hold … (otherwise), I’d-a decked her,” Johnson said.

“Put yourself in my shoes — what would you have done? Would your mother — maternal — instincts have kicked in? If it was your kids, would you have let them be exposed to the vulgar language?

“What would (Wife) have done? You may have gone off and juggled your cats, but your wife would’ve probably done the same thing I did — told her to keep her mouth quiet.”

But Johnson reiterated: “I think you have maternal instincts — I do,” she said.

No surprises there. I got in touch with my feminine side that summer in Tibet, and now I’m in touch with my maternal side.

Steve Nash writes his column for the Brownwood Bulletin on Thursdays. He may be reached by e-mail at steve.nash@brownwoodbulletin.com.