No Title for This Madness (Tantrum)




Me: (walking into a dark bedroom to confront a grounded Hank) Are you ready to answer my question now?

Hank: (sprawled across his bed, listless in the dark) I don’t even remember your question.

Me: You have a talent, my friend, for picking the wrong day, the wrong time and the wrong place to dish me a plate of sass.

Hank: (monotone, without a trace of energy) I really don’t remember.

Me: (deep breath) Why is it that you want to go out for an afternoon with Prima (cousin Monica) and her friend hiking and geo-cashing, but when I ask you to walk across the street to help Prima (cousin Monica) buy some tomatoes you refuse?

Hank: (not making eye contact) It’s not across the street.

Me: (angry) The praça is across the street.

Hank: No, it isn’t.

Me: Really? Really, Hank? Do you think giving me lip is a good idea right now. Do you have any idea how selfish and inappropriate you are being today OF ALL DAYS?

Hank: (freakishly calm) The praça is behind Continente (supermarket), around the corner and across from the feira (flee market). It is not across the street.

Me: (seething) Answer my question.

Hank: I don’t even remember your question.

Me: (fists clenched) You are going to grow old in this room. You will be grounded for so long I will be long dead and buried before you see the outside world again. I promise you if your intention is to make me shake with rage you are succeeding, Henrique José. Now, why is it that you clearly want to go do fun things with Monica and her friend, but right now you can’t do a little thing to help your mother and prima (cousin).

Hank: (rolling over, turning his back to me) Because I don’t want to get dressed.

Me: Then (deep breath) you will get exactly what you want today because you are not leaving this room. Lights will remain off and the blinds are down. When you apologize for your disrespect we will discuss the terms of your internment. Until you can find the sincerity and compassion I know lives in your heart you will remain in this room.

Hank: (now just throwing daggers) I don’t know what half of those words mean.

Me: Thank you, Hank. Thank you for teaching yourself a valuable lesson today. Today you learned how easy it is to become cold, heartless and malevolent. You learned it takes no work at all. Less work than it takes to be charitable, compassionate and respectful. I am so grateful I don’t have to teach you this lesson. You just taught yourself. (pause, on my way out the door) I hope my boy decides to return today, because you must be a changeling child. You must have been left here in the night, because I haven’t met this Hank. No, this is the first time I have met you. And I don’t like the person in front of me, wreaking havoc over a trip to buy tomatoes, breaking hearts and hurting feelings.


Me: (shutting the door on this conversation)


The Gas We Pass

Driving through Tuscany

Driving through Tuscany


Me: (at the dinner table, belching)

Pai: Perdão (I beg your pardon)!

Me: (recovering) Yes, I do. (sincere, hand to my heart) I beg your pardon. So sorry. It could not be contained.

Pai: I doubt that.

Hank: (to Monica) My Mãe (mom) burps a lot.

Me: Guilty.

Pai: You would think by now you would be over the habit.

Monica: It isn’t very rude in America, is it?

Me: Eh, depends. Yes, it is bad manners. I am just a bit of a besta (brute, fool). I absolutely have to release the toxins or else they will manifest in other ways.

Pai: (knowing where this is going) Oh, good lord.

Hank: Other ways?

Pai: Must we?

Me: Apparently, I cannot keep your son ignorant.

Pai: (grumble)

Me: Hank, my darling, my unique chemistry has proven that if I do not release the evils, what medieval peoples called gas, then it will evolve into farts, or wind as the Brits still call it and then I would never get to eat a meal without getting up from the table at least twice.

Pai: Scientifically, untrue. Don’t listen to her, Hank.

Monica: Why would you leave the table? We’re family, just fart. Everybody farts.

Hank: (hyper-giggling)

Me: I love how in this family farting is totally acceptable and burping is rude. Strange. Is all of Portugal this strange or is it just your clan?

Hank: When I have to fart I leave what I am doing and go into the hallway or the bathroom.

Me: And that is the best habit to form. I promise you, that politeness will pay off one day. No one kinder than a person that farts downwind from their loved ones.

Monica: Argh, yes. My best friend farts all the time. When he would stay over it was the worst.

Me: Hank, this is also an important life lesson. When you fart while in bed, WHATEVER YOU DO, do not release the gas out from between the sheets. Lock it in. Seal off the crime scene.

Hank: (riots of laughter)

Monica: (giggling)

Pai: (trying to remain unamused, but smirking)

Me: Give yourself and whomever you are sharing your bedroom with a stay of execution. By doing so the gas will slowly be released into the atmosphere, filtered by your bed sheets and covers. Best course of action, really. And don’t get me started on bathtub fart bubbles. Whhhoooosh! (making a face as if something smells bad)

Hank: (positively purple with laughter)

Me: So it is best to let me burp. I am sorry, but it is better for all of us.

Pai: (major side eye)

Me: And don’t look at me in that tone of voice, Dr. Pereira. Day one. I have never hid who I was.  My name is Joy and I belch.  I am addicted to burping.  I am a burp-aholic. A burp-a-saurus-rex.

Monica: (giggling) Don’t look at me in that tone of voice? Who says these things?

Me: My mother. I started throwing her shady glances at age six. (attention back to my darling husband) Everybody, farts and burps. It’s the gas we pass. I simply own it, stylishly. (mocking a hair flip)

Hank: (Convulsing laughing, close to hyperventilation)

Monica: (taking his arm and patting him on the back)

Hank: (blurts out) Fart bubbles. (trying to catch his breath) Fart bubbles! (crying laughing)

Me: Fart bubbles are utterly beautiful… until they pop.

Hank: (completely looses it)

Pai: (can’t help but laughs)

Monica: (giggling)

Me: You could have picked a skinny, boring, better house keeping, latin wife, Dr. Pereira, but you choose me. I belch, but I am fun.

Pai: (flirty) There was never a choice.

Me: (belching) Perdão.

Pai: (dropping his cutlery, exasperated, yet surrendering)

Hank: (may need hospitalization from the lack of oxygen, silently, hysterically laughing)

Me: I tried to say, “Love you,” with that burp, but I never mastered that talent.

Pai: (finally embracing the hilarity of the conversation) There’s still time.





4th Grade

conversations with hank


(door bell way too early, collective household bedhead and pajamas)

Me: (pouring coffee) Hank, push the button.

Hank: I’m pushing the button, but I can’t open the door. I am in my cuecas (underwear).

Pai: Can someone get the door? I am in the shower.

Molly: DANÇA (Dance)! (boogieing down to kids music)

Me: (lumbering to the door, large coffee cup, meeting the mail carrier) Bom dia, minha! Tás bem? (Good morning, young lady. You good?)

Mail Carrier: Estou. Tenho livros de teu filho. Desculpe a caixa é pesada. Pode? (I am. I have the books for your son. Sorry the box is heavy. Can you?)

Me: (taking the heavy box from here and placing it on the floor) Pode, amiga! Obrigada. (I can, friend! Thank you)

Mail Carrier: Bem. Assine aqui e… (Good. Sign here and…)

Me: (signing)

Mail Carrier: Bom fim de semana! (Have a good weekend)

Me: Igualmente (Same)

Mail Carrier: (catching the elevator)

Me: (closing the door) HANK!

Molly: DANÇA! (Dance!)

Hank: Is it for me?

Me: It’s your books, buddy.

Hank: REALLY, can I open it?

Me: I’ll get the scissors.

Molly: DANÇA! (Dance!!!)

Hank: (trying to force the box open)

Me: Tem calma (calm down).

Hank: I am so excited.

Me: (successfully opening the box)

Hank: Oh, wow! Look, they say 4th grade on them. (hugging a shrink wrapped package of books to his chest) I am going to be in 4th grade.

Me: I can hardly believe it. I am so excited for you.

Hank: A whole new year. The last year at my school. I get my same teacher again. And today I will go through my pencil case and see what I need.

Me: I hated school, but I loved school supplies. I still love school supplies.

Hank: I don’t hate school, but I love school supplies.

Me: Shall we go to Staples today and browse?

Hank: I don’t have my list of things I need yet from my teacher.

Me: We don’t have to let that stop us. We can breathe in the smell of fresh, never used notebooks and see what’s new in the pen section.

Hank: I love the smell of new notebooks. How did you know that?

Me: Name five people who don’t love that smell.

Hank: Mama, for now you are my person. Someday I will meet a person I love and they will be my person but right now you are my person. You get me. I love you.

Me: Thank you for being my best boy.

Hank: 4TH GRADE!

Molly: DANÇA! (Dance)

Hank: (getting up to celebrate with his dance happy sister) Dança (dance)!

Me: (celebrating by sipping my coffee, smiling at my dancing babes)