Sunday, October 25, 2009
As a Peace Corps Volunteer people always seem to assume that I am some kind of overly compassionate human being who runs around hugging orphans. Last week I was pretty close to the opposite of that.
Recently the children that play outside my house have become more bothersome. I put a light out in front of my house to scare off the criminals during the night but it has ended up creating a well-lit playground for the kids who play around screaming until about 10:30 each night. I consulted a neighbor who never seems to have a problem with the muchachos. He told me that his solution is to take a bucket of water and throw it out his front door every morning to scare off the kids, a little water never hurt anybody but staying dry is enough incentive for the kids to give him his space. I thought that would be a good idea but only in case of an emergency (or when they don’t listen to me the first five times).
There is particular 3 years old, that Kathy, Malia and I have dubbed the “naked kid” because he never wears clothes. Three weeks ago he discovered he could climb over the dog gate that I have in my front door (with the intention to keep Lobo in and the muchachos out). He climbs about half way and I tell him to stop and get out, but he just looks at me for a minute and continues to climb over. I don’t really like to host children, especially naked children, so the solution usually ends up with me picking him up and putting him on the other side of the dog gate. I then close the door and he goes away.
Last week one morning I was washing my socks and underwear in the front room and the Naked Kid came over and stood at the front door. I was shocked to see that he was actually wearing clothes this time. I complimented him on his pants and shirt. He began climbing over the gate and I told him to stay outside, as usual he stared at me a moment from on top of the gate and said, no. He entered; I picked him up and put him outside. He entered again; I put him outside again. He entered a third time and I told him that if he climbs over the gate one more time I am going to sick Lobo on him. He called my bluff (everybody knows Lobo doesn’t bite people) and climbed over. That’s it, I told him, I am going to throw water on you. He shook his head and said no again, as if he didn’t believe me. I said ok, and picked up the nearest bucket of water. He shook his head no again, I told him to get out again but he didn’t. All right then, I told him, and splashed about a quarter of the bucket of water on him.
The water was enough to make him scream and start crying loudly, we do have pretty cold water up here in the mountains. I asked him “what did I tell you? I told you to get out and you didn’t listen, this is your fault.” But he could not be reasoned with. “mama juevos” he told me, which can either translate to “mother eggs” or “suck balls.” I’m pretty sure he meant the latter. I then solicited the help of his older brother who is 8 years old. “How many times did I tell him?” I asked. The brother responded with 10 times. At least he understood where I was coming from.
I picked up the screaming child and put him on the other side of the gate and told his brother to take him to his mom, who lives two houses down. When I put the kid down I realized that the bucket I had splashed on him was what I had been using to wash my socks and underwear and, like any rational human being, I had put some bleach in it. I immediately felt awful that I ruined this impoverished child’s only shirt, but also relieved that none of the water hit his face or bare skin, and yelled at him “quitate las ropas! Ahora, hay cloro en este agua” which means “take of your clothes there is bleach in this water.” He just looked up at me confused, I don’t think he understands what bleach is and couldn’t figure out why I wanted him to take of his clothes. I told his brother to get the shirt off of him and have his mom soak it so it didn’t get ruined but he looked about as confused as his brother. Screw it, I thought, “vayanse a su casa” I told them, go to your house. They left and I didn’t see the naked kid for the rest of the morning. He came back that afternoon and was back to normal, naked and trying to climb over the dog gate. It looks like if I taught him a lesson it wasn’t the right one because he still keeps coming back but I haven’t seen him wear clothing since. Regardless, the only 3 year old I have been throwing water on lately has been Lobo, and that’s only because he has a bad habit of peeing on his own leg.
Also, I don’t think the shirt was ruined because his mom hasn’t said anything about it. Just to be safe though I gave away about a third of my wardrobe last week when I found a dead rat in my suitcase (I told all the moms to wash the close first). Now all the kids in the neighborhood are wearing my t-shirts and business casual clothing that I brought to country and never wore.