Me: Ok. Teeth brushed?
Me: Face washed?
Me: Other bathroom business attended to?
Hank: Xixi (pee), check. In Portuguese we call that necessidades (necessities) not business.
Me: Right, good to know. Singing in the mirror and (ruffling his hair) combing your hair?
Hank: (giggling) Check, check.
Me: Wonderful… Book?
Hank: Not tonight. Can we just talk a minute?
Me: Lovely, I’d be delighted. (sitting on the edge of his bed)
Hank: (smiling, pause) Mama, some people don’t like themselves.
Me: True Story.
Hank: I don’t understand that. I love myself.
Me: I am proud of you for that. You gotta love yourself first before you can know how to love anyone else. This is an important lesson you have learned young. Much younger than I learned it.
Hank: You gotta be you and that is fine. That is who you are.
Me: Wise words, my friend.
Hank: Like Mariama. She doesn’t like her hair. She wants hair like Irina’s, but I love Mariama just as she is and you LOVE her hair.
Me: Yes, I do.
Hank: You are always telling her that you wanted hair just like her’s when you were little.
Me: Yup. I used to beg my mother to braid my hair like our neighbor, Denis Hicks cousin Bebe’s. I loved her braids and twists fastened with baby barrettes at the ends. I was so upset when my mama told me, “Your hair just won’t do that.”
Hank: You wanted something you couldn’t have just like Mariama wants Irina’s caracóis (curls).
Me: Exactly. I have told Mariama many times I would give anything to have her tranças (braids). I love her hair!
Hank: But mommy, did you know? Mariama doesn’t believe you. She thinks you are lying.
Me: I am not!
Hank: I tell her that, but she doesn’t change her mind. She thinks her mother can take her to the cabeleireira (hairdresser) and they can make her hair fall strait.
Me: Cabeleireiras (hairdressers) can do that, it’s called a perm, but it involves a very strong chemical and it is very bad for children. Mariama can choose to have a perm when she is an adult, but now it is dangerous for her hair and her skin.
Hank: I wish she could see what we see.
Me: I hope someday she will. She is lovely.
Hank: I am ready to sleep now.
Me: Good night, Hank. Sweet dreams.
Hank: Good night, my mama.
**Guest Artist: Irina