Hank: Mommy, we can buy Zoo Tycoon for the Xbox anytime we want. I saved the game to our home page.

Me: Anytime we have €40 extra, you mean.

Hank: Zoo Tycoon doesn’t cost €40.

Me: Oh, yes it does.

Hank: No. I read it. To costeds…

Me: Costs.

Hank: Costs €39.99.

Me: Hank, how many less than 100 is 99?

Hank: One.

Me: So what you are telling me is Zoo Tycoon is one cêntimo (cent) less than what I said it cost.

Hank: Yes. €39.99 is still not €40.

Pai: Hank, one cêntimo (cent) is so insignificant that it makes your argument irrelevant.

Hank: Then why do they have that as the preço (price)?

Me: For silly debates like these, of course.

Hank: And for the people who only have .99 cêntimo (cent) and not €1.

Pai: If you do not have a single cêntimo (cent) extra in your life should you really be buying Xbox games?

Hank: Um… no. Nope.


** Guest Artist: Amy Davis   (Hank and I really do look like this. *wink)


The News


Me: (watching the news, unaware Hank has entered the room)

Hank: (panicked) Mommy?

Me: Oh! Hank, you scared me.

Hank: Someone went into a school and killed kids?

Me: Yes. Yes, that has happened.

Hank: 150 kids. That is like a whole school!

Me: Nearly.

Hank: Why? (coming to sit with me)

Me: (with my arm around him) Why do people do terrible things? For many reasons that do not make sense to good and well people. This was a group who want to control the world and have all the power called the Taliban. They do not believe in equality and education. Their ideas do not match most of society so they have decided to do extreme acts of violence to get attention.

Hank: (eyes tearing) What if they come to my school… Or Molly’s school when she is bigger? (eyes filling with tears) What if they kill my Molly like they killed those kids in that school?

Me: Slow down, buddy. When something is scary you cannot make it about you. You have to focus on who is in trouble and what is happening to them. You cannot live in fear. When something scary happens to you or to someone else you need to look for the helpful people. Look for the police, the firemen, the nurses and doctors, the people helping. Being scared will not help you or anyone. That is what those people wanted. They wanted to make children and their families too scared to go to school, because THEY are also scared. They are cowards. They are TERRIFIED of educated, bright, strong children, because then those children will grow up to change the world and take away their power. Nothing good can ever come from living in fear.

Hank: Can the Taliban come to Portugal?

Me: Anyone can come to Portugal, but there are many reasons we have chosen to live here. One of them is gun control. This is very important to me. It is not so easy to have enough guns and ammunition to create such a tragedy here.

Hank: Because Portugal is muito antiga (very old)?

Me: Portugal is an older culture than some and they choose different priorities. The right to bare arms is not one of them. Guns are available, but very expensive and very hard to get. You have to prove why you NEED a gun not why you WANT a gun. (wiping his teary face)

Hank: I don’t understand those men. School is so very important.

Me: And that is why in your future when it is your turn to change the world you and your peers will take their power away. You will take it away with your intelligence, because there is nothing more powerful than an educated mind. Now, can we take time to put all of those children and their families and their community in our hearts?

Hank: I wish I could help them.

Me: Go to school. Grow up. Be good. Be the change. (crying) That is how you can help them. Live. Help them by living.



(Special thanks to Mr. Fred Rogers for teaching me what to say to my son when I am scared, too.)


Landing Pot Stew


Me: Is the table set?

Hank: Yup!

Pai: Sit, sit, sit! Time to eat.

Me: Ooooh, smells great.

Hank: Yah.

Pai: Beef and bean stew.

Hank: Yum.

Me: Double yum. This is great, babe.

Pai: Couldn’t have done it without you.

Hank: Who made the stew?

Me: We both did.

Pai: Your Mãe made the beans and the caldo (broth) and I added the meat and other things.

Me: We collaborated. Do you know what collaborate means?

Hank: Nope.

Pai: It means we worked together, bringing our individual talents, to make something.

Hank: Go team!

Me: You know, your grandpa snitch told me when he was a boy at the end of each month his mother, my grandma Hanford, used to take all the contents of their refrigerator and make something called, “ Landing Pot Stew,” because everything in the fridge would land in the pot.

Pai: Yuck.

Me: And I always wondered if he really meant everything. I mean, what about ketchup? Mustard? Strawberry Jam?

Hank: Chocolate cake?

Me: Oh, that would have never been an option. You grandpa snitch was the second oldest of five kids. Five kids means there is never any leftover chocolate cake.

Pai: Tuna salad with mayonnaise?


Hank: Ewwwwwwwwww.

Me: Pickles in stew. (shudders)

Hank: Did my grandpa snitcher like it?

Me: Your grandpa snitcher is someone very special. He has the ability to like any and all foods, regardless of flavor, except cilantro. He does not like cilantro.

Hank: What is cilantro?

Pai: Coentro (cilantro).

Hank: Oh, Ok. I hope that never landed in the landing stew. But why did my grandpa snitcher’s mommy do that?

Me: She never wasted a thing. She was very good about using everything and anything to make their world a more beautiful place. She made rugs out of old clothes, she made quilts out of leftover fabric, she made everything count for if not one purpose than two or three. She understood conservation before it was trendy to first reduce, then reuse and lastly recycle.

Hank: Well, that is good.

Pai: Yup, but I don’t know if I could eat the landing pot stew.

Hank: Mama. Is this the same grandma that made the pink chicken and you couldn’t eat it so you flushed it down the toilet and lied and got ice cream and felt so, so, so bad that you only ever told me about it, but me?

Me: (shocked inhale, blushing)

Pai: Well now I know too… What is this about pink chicken?

Hank: Oops. Sorry, mommy!

Me: Yes, the very same grandma. It is ok, Hank. I can tell your papa anything, he is my best friend, even my deepest darkest secret. (deep breath) We are all going to need another bowl of stew while I explain.

Pai: Pass over your bowls. I need to hear this Story.