Hank: Sunday is Dia do Mãe (Mother’s Day) and I am making you the very best surprise at my school!

Me: It is?

Hank: Sure!  You remember.  I told you Dia do Mãe was not last Sunday, but this Sunday. Domingo (Sunday).

Me: Well.  I am excited.  I loved my surprise last year.

Hank: It was just a box.

Me: Nope.  You are not aloud to say that.  It is not just a box it is my box and it is yellow and it has butterflies.  Don’t be a just guy.

Hank: I am so excited for school today!

Me: I love that you love school!

Hank: Did you love school?

Me: Nope.  I hated school.

Hank: All of it?

Me: I liked school until half way through 2nd grade.  Then I pretty much hated every minute until I was finished with college except for art classes.

Hank: Why?

Me: I had a very hard time with reading and writing and math.  How much of your day is reading and writing and math?

Hank: (thinking) Most of it.

Me: There you go.

Hank: I think I am going to be like my pai (dad).  I think I am always going to go to school and never stop.

Me: That is a good goal.

Hank: And I was thinking.  Instead of you having to go to school to speak Portuguese more well I will bring my schoolbooks home every day and I can be your teacher.  I can help you.

Me: You would do that?

Hank: Yes! I will do it today.  We can study at the café after school.

Me: It’s a date.

Hank: No.  It is not a date.  It is an aula (lesson).

Me: Obrigada, Professor Henrique. (thank you, teacher Hank)

Hank: De nada! (it’s nothing)


On my way to bed


Hank: Mama?

Me: You still awake, buddy?

Hank: I cannot sleep.  I need an expert.

Me: You need a sleep expert?  Well, you are in luck.  I have an associates degree in sleeping. What seems to be the problem?

Hank: I just can’t get to the dreaming part.

Me: That is a common affliction.  Let me see how far along you are in the process.  Are you tucked in?

Hank: Yes, papa tucked me.

Me: Good.  Are your comfy?

Hank: Very.

Me: This evening are you sleeping with a friend?

Hank: Yes, my berinjela (eggplant [toy]).

Me: And is your berinjela (eggplant [toy]) comfy?

Hank: Yes.

Me: Right.  Now, do you have your imagination turned on?

Hank: What?

Me: Do you have your imagination ready?  The easiest way to slip into dreams is to first start by imagining.  That way you will transition from your imagination to dreaming with little notice.

Hank: That is a good idea.

Me: Do you know what you would like to imagine?

Hank: I am going to play City Car Driving for the computer with the gear shift and the steering wheel.

Me: Very good and have you chosen your car?

Hank: (yawing) Yes.

Me: What kind of car.

Hank: I am going to drive a red Toyota Corolla.

Me: Sensible choice and where are you going to drive this car?

Hank: Russia.

Me: Wonderful.  Are you ready to begin?

Hank: Yes.

Me: Well, start your engine and relax by taking some big deep breaths and before you know it tomorrow will be here.

Hank: You can stop talking now, mama.  I have to concentrate.

Me: (giggling.  Leaving the room)

Hank: (calling behind me) Thank you, sleep expert.

Me: You’re very welcome.





Me: Alright, Buddy.  It’s time to go to Bedfordshire.

Hank: Where?

Me: Have I never told you about the Island of Bedfordshire?

Hank: Nope.

Me:  Well.  Bedfordshire is a dreamy island that lies in the South Sea.  Bedfordshire has many names in all languages and it isn’t on many maps, although Vasco de Gama and Captain Cook both made note of it’s position, but with vastly contradicting coordinates.  To get there you row a small boat from any of the Paracel Island Islets south-east keeping your eyes out for sea turtles and mind you don’t breach your boat on a coral reef  and row until your arms grow heavy and you start to yawn.  That is when you’ll spy the docks of Bedfordshire. It will most certainly be twilight by then.  It is almost always twilight when you reach the docks of Bedfordshire.

Hank: What is twilight?

Me: Almost dark.  Twilight is the color of the sky once the sun has set, but before it is full dark.  When you squint your eyes almost shut twilight is the color of the light between your pestanas (eyelashes).

Hank: (squinting) Oh.

Me: You can tie your boat up to any free dock on the Island of Bedfordshire and there is no need to worry about its safety.  Bedfordshire has a crime free history.  Once you walk up the white sand beach you will see a line of tiny cabins with sea faded pastel paint and short white picket fences.  You can choose any cabin with the porch light off.  That means they are empty and waiting for a visitor.  Can you see them? Have you picked one?

Hank: (nodding)

Me: The cabins on Bedfirdshire are perfect and simple.  They have two windows open to the sea breeze and a front and back door.  The walls are white washed and decorated with treasures the sea has washed up on the beach.  There is a small bathroom with all you could need and a bed just to your liking.

Hank: Just like my bed?

Me: Exactly!  Everyone has a bed preference.  You love your bed because it is the perfect amount of soft and slept in.  I love my bed because it is made of NASA space foam that aerospace engineers invented to stop space debris from ripping apart space ships and your Tia Alice likes a bed so hard it is about the same as sleeping in the road.  Everyone is different, but the beds of Bedfordshire are always to your liking.

Hank: What about pajamas?

Me: Always perfectly pressed at the bottom of the bed in the summer they are cool and fresh and never get bunchy when you toss and turn and in the winter they are toasty and snug.

Hank: And water?

Me: There is a bottle and a glass of fresh, spring water on the nightstand and once you have washed your face…

Hank: and brushed your teeth and faz xixi (peed)…

Me: Then you turn on your porch light, turn off your light and crawl into bed.  The sea breeze of Bedfordshire carries you off to the best, greatest, longest, nicest dreams you have ever had.  Dreams of huge dinners where you can eat any and all of the food without ever getting full, dreams the last for years, but when you wake up you feel refreshed, dreams of elephants and flamingos and winged horses…

Hank: Perfect dreams.

Me: Exactly.

Hank: That sounds the best, (yawning) but what about breakfast?

Me: Well, why do you think there is a backdoor?

Hank: Oh.

Me: When you wake up after you stretch the best morning stretch you find a bathrobe and walk out the back door into a practically perfect, private back garden full of flowers and fruit trees and birds welcoming the day, bees buzzing and your breakfast is waiting for you on a white iron table in the shade of an apple tree.  There is toast with cinnamon and sugar, hot chocolate and fruit.

Hank: That is my perfect breakfast.

Me: And after you eat and sit and sip your hot chocolate your clothes are cleaned and pressed and waiting for you inside.  And after you get dressed you open the front door of your cabin and turn off your porch light.  You carry your shoes and sock and walk barefoot down Bedfordshire’s white sand beach until you reach your dock and your boat.  You climb in and the tide catches you taking you so easily out to sea that you barely have to row only look back smiling at the coastline of Bedfordshire island.

Hank: (yawn)

Me: Goodnight, buddy.

Hank: Good night, my mama.

Me: (tucking him in, leaving his room)

Pai: (looking up from his obscure science paper) So, is that how you do it?

Me: (pause. getting paper and a pen) Yup.

Pai: (smiling)

Me: (writing it all down)