Hank: (walking out the school door) Mama! (from a hug) Where is Amália?
Me: (sans stroller) She is with Quitéria.
Hank: Really? (taking my hand)
Me:Yup. I was just getting ready to leave and she took Molly from my arms and said, “Deixar esta bebê comigo. É muito quente hoje.” (Leave this baby with me. It is too hot today.) So I flew out the door.
Me: I forgot how fast I could get to school without the stroller and how nice it was to let my arms swing in the breeze and I get to hold you hand. It’s been a while!
Me: And we can have a long after-school chat like we used to.
Me: Is something wrong?
Hank: I miss Molly. Can we take the short cut so we can get home faster?
Me: (smiling, squeezing his hand) Sounds like a plan.
Me: (feeding Molly, positively plastered in carrots) Yes.
Hank: Oh, (pause) can you tell me where they are?
Me: Where have you looked?
Hank: I looked by the door, by the couch and in my closet and by my bed.
Me: All exceptional places for your sandals, except by the couch, but I think if you look in my room you will locate them.
Hank: Oh… What are they doing there? (dashing off to grab them)
Me: You kicked them off when we were reading after school.
Hank: (returning, sandaled) Ok.
Me: You know what your Grandpa Snitch used to do when we were kids and didn’t put something back where it belonged?
Hank: (shaking his head no)
Me: He’d hide it.
Me: Yup. When it was a toy it was annoying, but when it was something important it was stressful. Like if it was your backpack and you had homework or you coat and it was winter. Once I remember it was Uncle Jesse’s church shoes and he had to wear his play shoes to church instead. He looked pretty as a picture, head to toe, and then –BAM- dirty lace-ups.
Me: It taught us to put our things away properly that way we’d always know where they were.
Me: Maybe I should hide things from you.
Hank: Nope, that’s ok. Just hearing that story is enough, besides our apartment isn’t THAT big. I bet if you hide something I could find it.
Me: You think? Shall we try?
Me: Did you ever find your Christmas presents early?
Pai: (kissing Molly and I goodbye) Time to go!
Hank: (kiss, walking out the door) Yes, but you were smart enough to wrap them BEFORE you hid them.
Me: (pausing the TV) How long have you been listening?
Hank: A while.
Me: Got questions?
Me: Pop over here, buddy and I will explain.
Hank: (leaving his drawings)
Me: Normally, This show is all dresses and…
Hank: Eating lunch and going shopping and make-up and parties.
Me: You get the drill. This telenovela (soap opera) is not a fictional story. These are real people who run around doing things and let cameras follow them. What they do is produced, but they are not acting.
Hank: They are famous people.
Me: Yes. Well, the dad on this show he has lived his whole life with a secret and he cannot live with it anymore so this show has had to take a break from lunches, and makeup and such and talk about something very important.
Hank: Is he sick?
Me: No. I am going to tell you his secret and I want you to listen with your heart. Do you know how to do that?
Hank: (thinking) Maybe.
Me: When you listen to someone with your whole heart you hear what they are saying and even if you cannot fully understand what they are going through you do your best to imagine what it is like to be them and never judge their life based on your own. We are all very different, but we are all people and all deserve respect.
Me: Ever since the Dad was born he knew in his heart that although on the outside his body was a boy on the inside, his heart and his soul was a girl.
Me: Yes. This is not a unique thing. Through out time and history there have been millions of people who were born the same way. It is only the world wasn’t evolved enough to listen to them, hear and accept them so they had to live as their true selves in secret.
Hank: So he is a boy, but his heart is a girl.
Me: Yes. He is a girl who was born in a boy’s body and he spent his life, being an important athlete, a father, he inspires people to live their dreams by making speeches, but all the while he has always know he was a woman and unable to live comfortably that way. Recently, he has decided he cannot do that anymore and he needed to tell his truth out loud so that he could help people just like him.
Hank: That is a good thing.
Me: I think so, too. That is why I am watching this telanovela (soap opera) today.
Hank: But why are they all crying?
Me: Can you imagine how confusing and scary it would be to find out this about your dad? They are all going through this together. His children are scared for him and also sad that he lived his whole life with the sadness that he couldn’t be who he really is on the inside.
Hank: I can kind of imagine.
Me: Personally, I have two friends who were also born this way. When I met them they were both women, who always know they were men and during our friendship they transitioned to live as their true selves.
Hank: And are they happy?
Me: They are who they were meant to be from the beginning. They have the same stresses and issues of life, those kinds of things never go away.
Hank: So they are boys now.
Hank: (thinking) What happened to their names?
Me: Great question. They both legally changed their names and more importantly their pronouns. I never think “she, her” when I am speaking to them or even thinking of them, I say “he, him.” That took some time to change my way of thinking, but not very long.
Hank: Oh. Do I know those friends?
Me: They both live in America. You have met them when you were little. One of them shares your birthday.
Hank: That is nice. Mama, can I watch this with you? I want to practice listening with my heart.
Me: Sure, but know that just this episode of The Kardashians is special. They will go back to eating in restaurants and obsessing about clothes next week.
Hank: And forgetting to button her shirts. That one girl. You know which one.
Me: (giggling) Yup. That is the style she likes.
Hank: I know it is very hot in LA, but she could wear a bikini.
Me: Hank, you are being judgmental. (pushing play)
Hank: Oh. Well, there she remembered to button her shirt.