Joy, for reasons tangentially related to Harry Potter, has long maintained that she keeps a cauldron in the basement for cooking naughty children. (Maybe also delicious children. I’m not sure.) She hasn’t actually used that threat with Mookie as often as she might have anticipated, but a while back she did, on a particularly grumpy morning when we were trying to compel Mookie to come with us to the farmers’ market. Mookie really doesn’t like to leave the house on a Saturday morning. The threat of death by cauldron seemed to move her, though; in fact, from the look on her face, I think she wasn’t entirely sure whether Joy was joking, at least about her possession of a witch’s cauldron.

So off we went, quite merrily once we were through the front door, and did our shopping, and got our reward, pupusas from one of the food stands. M. and I were sitting on a wall, waiting for Joy to come back with the pupusas we’d ordered, and another family was nearby, being pretty critical and harsh with a daughter just about Mookie’s age. Mookie said to me, “They’re not very nice to their little girl.” I agreed with her, but some impulse of “don’t cast stones” came over me and I couldn’t resist saying, “Well, sweetheart, just this morning, your mommy threatened to cook you in a cauldron.” The laugh she gave told me two things: she got the irony, and she also knew that Joy does not really have a cauldron or any intention of eating her.


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