Twas mid-December, and all through the house not a creature was stirring, except maybe a mouse…and Amanda and I decorating for Christmas as we strung up a line of white lights on our porch, a batch of Betty Crocker cookies baking in the toaster oven. Stepping back to admire the effect of our Christmas decoration, we noticed the distinct aroma of charred cookies. (Luckily you can’t make too many cookies at a time in a toaster oven, so we had plenty of dough left to try again). Suddenly, there arose such a clatter in the street in front of our house that we went to see what was the matter. We found a group of eight little boys from the neighborhood, probably ranging in age from 8 to 13 years old. They were clamoring for water and making smooching sounds at us: “Hey, Sweetheart! Bring me water!” “Hey, gringa!”
This immediately caught our attention. As self-proclaimed feminists, we knew we couldn’t allow this kind of behavior to continue. Amanda began a dialogue with the boys while I ferried cups of water back and forth. She asked the biggest boy why he was making the smooching sounds.
“Because he likes you!” the younger ones chorused.
“Well,” Amanda explained, “when you like a girl, you have to get to know her first before you call her sweetheart and get her permission to kiss her. Do you like it when people do things to you without your permission?”
“No…” another boy answered.
“Well, that’s how I feel when you say those things to me.”
Lesson over, they smelled blackened chocolate chip cookies and insisted we give them some. Since you can’t bake many cookies at one time in a toaster oven, we only had a few cookies to give away. Amanda told them they would have to share two cookies between them.
“We don’t care, we want cookies!”
So Amanda doled out pieces of the two crispy cookies, which were greedily snatched up by the boys, who didn’t seemed as interested in sharing after all. When the cookies were gone, the boys wandered away and Amanda and I returned to the kitchen to experiment ways to bake cookies without burning them. Five minutes later, we heard the same commotion in front of our house. “Hey sweetheart!” and more smoochy sounds. Amanda stalked out angrily and announced that they were being disrespectful and they couldn’t be friends anymore.
When even this didn’t deter them, I went out and threw a bucket of water on them.
Once it quieted down again I had a chance to think about what had just happened. Feelings of frustration lingered, and I remembered that at the gym that evening a bunch of teenage boys had also been catcalling at me as they passed by. Was I supposed to put up with it in my own house, too? Then I felt guilty for having resorted to violence, even though it was only a bucket of water, to resolve the situation.
I wonder what Mother Theresa would have done.