We’re Rich

conversations with hank


Me: No, thank you. Have a nice day. (hangs up the phone)

Hank: (worried look) Who were you talking to on the phone, mama?

Me: (taking notes) Money people.

Hank: Money people?

Me: The people who handle my student loan.

Hank: What is a student loan?

Me: In America university is very expensive, so some young people take out a loan while they study to help pay the bill.

Hank: But you worked while you were in school, didn’t you?

Me: (lifting my head) Yes, I did. That money paid for rent and food and books and the stuff of life.

Hank: (worried puzzled look)

Me: Here is the point. I have debt in the US and I was speaking with my loan company, because that is a part of adulthood. I was asking about my options. I call them every year to do so.  I was just making sure I was managing my loan wisely and therefore managing our money wisely. That is called being fiscally responsible. We four are some of the richest people I know, but money doesn’t make you rich, Hank. (collecting my notes and shutting my computer) Happiness makes you rich.

Hank: Oh, that I know and we are very happy, but… (worried look)

Me: (scooping him up in a big hug) Oh my little worrier, stop right there. (attacking him with tickles)

Hank: (laughing)

Me: We don’t have any problems. Your papa and I manage our money very well. When you are an adult you will also have conversations on the phone about money. They key is to be smart, know all of your options and make informed decisions.

Hank: Maybe I won’t go to university.

Me: You can do with your life as you choose, but education opens doors to the world that I would like you to experience. In Europe they have a different system where you don’t pay the same costs but earn your right into university by studying hard. You are only eight…

Hank: No, I’m not.

Me: Sorry, In September you will be eight and the best investment you can make in your future is to not worry about adult things. Leave those worries for when you are an adult and by then you will know what to do or know how to ask for advice. Right now you need to live and sing and dance and play and paint. Your job is to find the things of the world you like best and study hard. You have plenty of time to be an adult, but today is not that day.

Hank: Ok.

Me: It is my pleasure to give you the best childhood possible. Please don’t worry about unnecessary things. Besides, I’ve told you: we’re rich.

Hank: Happy rich.

Me: The only possible kind.



conversations with hank


(entering Hank and Molly’s room only to find Hank doing a headstand on his bed supported by the wall)

Me: (smiling) What, do you think if you stand on your head idea’s will flood from your feet to your brain?

Hank: (giggling) No, I just don’t know what to write about. I am getting frustrated.

Me: Clearly so frustrated that your world’s turned upside down, but it’s time now to stop stalling and write your page.

Hank: But I already wrote things and then it was so bad. I hated it.

Me: May I see what you wrote?

Hank: I tore it up.

Me: (deep breath) Not a good idea, buddy.

Hank: (flopping back down)

Me: Every day from now until school all you need to do is write one small notebook page of text. You need to get back into the habit of work. Reentry is the hardest part of ferias (vacation).

Hank: But…

Me: I am going to stop you there, Hank. You have hemmed and hawed around this room for far too long and you are all out of excuses.

Hank: BUT…

Me: Focus now, do not get frustrated. Just listen. I am here to help.

Hank: (shoulders dropping)

Me: What is it that you think I do for a living?

Hank: (pause) You’re a writer.

Me: And how many pages of bad stories do you think it took me before I wrote a good one?


Me: Writing takes work, you will need to be able to write well not matter your future job and I am not asking for Keats.

Hank: I don’t know who that is.

Me: I understand. What I am saying to you is that by doing everything BUT writing (giggling) even so far as standing on your head you are only going to prolong the enviable or garner a punishment.

Hank: But I just don’t have words.

Me: That is something to write about. You can write something like: “My parents are forcing me to write and I have nothing to write about. I wrote some things, but they were so bad I tore the page from my notebook and then ripped that page into 100 pieces.” You would be surprised how many words it takes to describe well something so simple.


Me: No more stalling.

Hank: I am not stalling.

Me: Great, then I look forward to reading your page shortly.

Hank: (punching a pillow)

Me: The longer you take the longer this work will take.

Hank: (screams into a pillow then gets up and goes over to the table to work)




The Method

conversations with Hank


Hank: (indistinct crying sounds coming from the bathroom)

Pai: Henrique, Estás bem? (Hank, you alright?)

Hank: Sim (yes)

Pai: (walking away)

Hank: (indistinct speech in a depressed tone evolving into crying)

Me: Hank?

Hank: Yes?

Me: Are you alright?

Hank: Yup.

Me: (unconvinced I stay by the door)

Hank: (bemoaning, dramatic fits and sob)

Me: (knocking, opening the bathroom door)

Hank: (totally fine brushing his teeth)

Me: Um…

Hank: What?!?

Me: What do you mean, what? I keep hearing crying.

Hank: (exasperated) Mama, I am practicing my faces in front of the mirror.

Me: OH! You’re acting.

Hank: Yes, now I need space.

Me: Well, I need you to make a sign and hang it on the bathroom door to let me know you are honing your craft. You gotta let your mama know so she doesn’t think you have an acute case of melancholia. Off you go, Lee Strasberg, you work on The Method.

Hank: I don’t understand you, but thanks. Shut the door, please.

Me: (leaving with flourish and a dramatic bow)