An incident occurred over the weekend involving my young teenage daughter and a neighborhood boy that brought out a glimpse of Vincenza, my less than forgiving Italian alter ego. Without going into much detail, suffice it to say my daughter’s heart weathered the first of hopefully few storms to come spawned by teenage romance. Since neither kid’s allowed to date, they just hung out a few times, not a huge romantic investment. Because I know the boy, and my daughter demonstrated maturity by coming to me up front, I let her dip a toe in the water.
Less than a week later I had a miserable teenage girl with a broken heart and a motive for murder moping around the house. As a mother and a female, I reacted in a way I‘m not particularly proud of. I wanted blood. Almost instantly word hit the streets and spread like the H1N1 Influenza. Visions of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino danced in my mind as I drew the drapes and sat in the darkest corner of my house, waiting and plotting.
“Bring the boy to me,” I rasped and took a long drag on a cigarette. Through a swirling veil of eerie smoke, I cast a knowing stare at the small group of loyal children gathered before me. They knew what fate awaited the offending teenage boy and dispersed like eager minions to do my bidding.
Not really. I don’t smoke and I don’t have minions. Well, maybe a few but they’ll never talk……I hope. In truth a few of the kids, including the heartbreaker, found me at a neighbor’s home. They sat on their bikes and waited for me to address them. Not one to pass up a moment of fun, I stepped outside, ordered the posse away, and came face to face with Romeo himself. In spite of my efforts to appear non-threatening, me his face paled and his eyes widened as he scooted his bike backwards in a feeble attempt to escape. He had the nerve to let out a giggle. What, did I amuse this kid?
“I’m not two-timing her, I swear!” he croaked at me. Cracking my knuckles and glancing around as if checking for witnesses, I sauntered toward him. At snap of my fingers two boys on bikes materialized at the end of my neighbor’s driveway, ready to thwart any ill-advised attempt to flee. Across Romeo’s forehead, a band of perspiration shone in the sunlight. It pleased me to see him squirm.
However, the mature and law abiding part of my brain snapped me back to reality before I reached him. I blew out a sigh of resignation and ended his suffering. Albeit fun for me, I couldn’t torture the kid.
“Yeah, yeah. Chill out. As much as I want to, and I really really want to, I’m not gonna hurt you,” I said, not without a smidgen of disappointment. Damn. I really wanted to make him sweat. Over the next several minutes, we discussed the situation and he agreed to settle the matter with my daughter while keeping her feelings in mind. I let him live. For now.
The word on the streets of my neighborhood among kids, boys in particular, is that I am a force to be reckoned with. A carefully crafted and simple strategy implemented over the last several years has put me in a position of power, to some degree. The kids know I’m here for them in a motherly/friend capacity, but they also respect me because I treat them with respect. I may be the Kool-Aid mom they know and love, but make no mistake. Behind the lemonade pitcher beats the heart of a protective mother. Mess with my children or any other kids I know, and you will answer to an angry woman fueled by hormones and centuries of innate primitive maternal instincts.
Whatever alert system the kids have in place brings any and all suspicious behavior to an abrupt halt when I show up. Some will hop fences to get away while those who are too scared to move just stand and tremble, pleading with their eyes for mercy.
So far my attempts to locate hidden cameras have failed, but I know what to do. All it takes is a batch of chocolate chip cookies and a couple of fans strategically placed in open windows blowing fragrant, cooking air out of the house. Once the aroma of home baked goodness (or bribery) reaches the street, kids will start showing up at my door in droves. A few cookies and a glass of lemonade will have the younger kids singing like a chorus of canaries. The plan is so simple, it almost shames me to implement such tactics. Almost.