conversations with hank


Hank: (playing SIMS 4 on his cousin Monica’s computer in her room) Whatcha doing, prima (cousin)?

Monica: I am packing for tomorrow. I am going to go to Gerês with my friend.

Hank: (not looking up from the computer) That’s nice. I like Gerês. You will have fun. Who are you going with, Renato?

Monica: You haven’t met this friend yet, but he’s nice, you’d like him.

Hank: Am I going to meet him tomorrow?

Monica: No, but I can invite him over some day soon if you’d like to meet him.

Hank: (dead serious, not looking up from the computer) Prima (cousin), if you like him I know I will like him and he is invited to come over any day just not at five o’clock in the morning.

Monica: (snickers)

Hank: (attention never wavering from his game) He needs to come to dinner and meet us before that happens.

Monica: Right. Yes. Of Course. Sure. (nervous laughter)



conversations with hank


Molly: (toddles into the living room, points to the TV) Happy Days!

Hank: Not now, mana (sister). It is my turn. (driving to Nice, France on the Xbox) You already watched Panda Caricas (singing dancing kids programing) and Ruca (Caillou in the states).

Molly: (belly out, knees locked, bottom lip out, pointing at the TV) HAPPY DAYS!

Hank: Mana (sister), I told you.

Me: (looking up from my book) Besides, you didn’t say, please, Amália.

Molly: (wanting to cry)

Me: (interrupting the tears before they can begin, saying in a sweet voice) Nope! No. No way, little one. (scooping her up in my arms) No way, no how!

Hank: We don’t get what we want when we cry.

Monica (our cousin staying with us for the summer): Amália, would you like some yogurt?

Molly: (from pout to delighted in under a second) SIM! (Yes)

Me: Sim, se faz favor, prima. (yes, if you please, cousin) Yes, please. Please. Yogurt, please.

Hank: And if that is too hard to say, say peas. Peas! We will understand you.

(a little while later, after yogurt)

Monica: Amália. Can you say your name? Say Amália.

Molly: No! (folding her arms and turning away)

Monica: Come on, Amália. You only say your name to you mãe (mom). Say Amália.

Molly: (full throttle sass) No! PEAS. (pause for dramatic affect) PEEEEEEEES.

Monica: (catching on) Oh, I am sorry. How rude of me. Amália, can you please say your name.

Molly: (thinking)

Monica: I would love to hear you say it, please.

Molly: (milking her new found power for all it’s worth)

Monica: Please?

Molly: (side eye) Ah-Molleee-Ah.

Monica: (delighted) Oh and where is Amália?

Molly: (proud, hugging herself) Aqui (right here).

Monica: Thank you, Amália.

Molly: (arms wrapped around her prima’s neck giving her a big hug) De-na-da (you’re welcome).

Hank: (whispers to me, driving through the Amafi Coast) Did you hear, mama?

Me: (book on my chest having witnessed the whole wonderful conversation, whispering back) Yes, I did.

Hank: (taking a hard left, whispers) She’s growing up.

Me: (whispering back) She sure is.


Faz Força (With Force, Have Courage, Be Strong, Be Mighty)

Molly and her fancy shoes.

Molly and her fancy shoes.


Me: (opening Hank and Molly’s bedroom window to let in the day and the smell of the rain) Good morning, chickens.

Hank: (groggy) Mama.

Molly: (chipper as a squirrel, bouncing in her crib) Papa! Papa!

Me: Your darling papa is getting ready, MaGooie, so you will just have to settle for your darling mama.

Molly: (disappointed) Papa? No? Harumph. (arms folded in front of her, low lip out pout)

Me: I will not take that pout personally, chicken soup. No matter how hard you try. (giggling, folding her into my arms)

Molly: No. (displeased)

Hank: I will get Molly’s and my milks ready, mama.

Me: (calling after him) Thank you, Hank. You are ever so helpful. I appreciate it.

Hank: (from the kitchen) You’re welcome.

Molly: Papa?

Me: Soon your papa will come and smother you in kisses but first (grabbing the diaper cream to distract her) open this while I get you dressed.

Molly: (excited) Força? (with strength?)

Me: Sim, faz força, filha. (Yes, with strength, daughter)

Molly: (concentrating, grunting for the dramatic affect) Força, mama? (Am I strong, mama?)

Me: Oh, yes. (wrangling her into her clothes) You are very strong and clever and brave, Ms. McGoo.

Molly: (focus, more grunting and dramatic stares at the diaper cream)

Me: Well, done. (putting on her shoes, plain summer sandals) Now, are you ready for some milk with mano (your brother)?

Molly: Já esta (all done), mama.

Me: Thank you for helping me, littlest chicken. You loosened it.  I saw.  You are very strong and now it will be easier for me to open next time.(setting her on her feet) Now, go find Mano (your brother). I am right behind you. (collecting diaper, pajamas, etc)

Molly: (toddling into the hallway) Oh no!

Me: (looking up) What is it?

Hank: Mana (sister)?

Molly: (distraught) OH NO, MAMA! SHOES! (gesturing from her plain, practical shoes to her fancy shoes she was playing with last night)

Hank: What is wrong with her shoes? What is wrong with your shoes, mana (sister)?

Molly: (paralyzed in the hallway, gesturing to her shoes both on her feet and in the living room) Shoes! Shoes! (crying real tears)

Pai: (from the bedroom) What is wrong?

Me: I think we are in the process of having our first wardrobe crisis.

Molly: (face in her hands, sobbing) Shoes!

Me: (on my knees, arm around her) Amália, would you like to wear a different pair of shoes today?

Molly: (looking up, lip out, tear stained cheeks, stuttered deep breath) Sim! (yes)

Hank: That’s okay, mana (sister).

Molly: Shoes! (pointing in the direction of her fancy shoes)

Me: Hank, you take your mana (sister) and sit her down with her fancy shoes while I get some socks. Molly, it is okay. You did the right thing by telling us. Força, filha (have courage, daughter). It is perfectly fine to have an opinion about your shoes.

Molly: (taking Hank’s hand, pathetically, exhausted from making herself understood) Força (strength).

Hank: Isso mesmo, mana, faz força. (That’s right, sister, be mighty.)

Walking away, mightily.

Walking away, mightily.


The phrase, Faz Força, in Portuguese has many different meanings in many different contexts.  When you are struggling to open a jar or a heavy door it means: with force/with strength. At a sporting event it is a rallying cry. Yet when you are going through a tragedy, a health or personal crisis it can mean: be strong, have courage, be mighty.

One little phrase means so much. Faz Força means everything I want to teach my little girl even if it is about being mighty for the sake of fashion (this time).