The Circle of Life

conversations with hank


(midway through a typical dinner conversation)

Hank: But what I don’t understand is how a baby can be born from your body without pain?

Me: Easy.

Pai: Drugs.

Hank: You took drugs?

Me: Yup, both times. With Amália I had to as I had a surgery, but with you it was optional because I had you naturally. I chose to take drugs so that I could nap and then watch project runway.

Hank: You watched Project Runway while I was born?

Me: Makes a lot of sense now doesn’t it.

Pai: Be honest. She didn’t watch project runway while you were being born but during her labor.

Me: That’s right. The doctor came in and said, “Yup, it’s time,” and I was all “Can’t this wait a few more minutes? It’s the final runway show!”

Pai: It couldn’t wait.

Me: Nope. I also knew that once you were born I wouldn’t have the time to watch silly old Project Runway because I would be too busy being your mama.

Hank: But why do some ladies not take drugs?

Me: Because while you are pregnant whatever you take the baby takes: whatever you drink, eat… If you smoke the baby smokes.

Hank: And that makes the baby very sick.

Me: Yes, it does, so some mothers choose to have the baby naturally so that their baby doesn’t have to also take drugs.

Hank: What does smoking do to you?

Pai: It makes you very sick.

Me: Smoking deposits tar and other toxins into your lungs and you need your lungs to work.

Hank: Is it like… Like a tree in a construction site?

Pai: Very good analogy.

Me: Exactly like that. A tree in a construction site get coated in a thick layer of…

Hank: Dirt.

Me: Right, the leaves become coated in dust and dirt and therefore the tree is unable to breath or collect sunlight what a tree needs to live.

Hank: Poor tree they need to breath oxygen.

Me: Nope. We need trees to make oxygen. Do me a favor: breath in.

Hank: (takes a deep breath)

Me: That is your body taking oxygen into your lungs. Now, breath out.

Hank: (exhales)

Me: Once you took that oxygen into your body it was processed and you exhaled something called carbon dioxide which trees need to produce oxygen. It is a cycle. Part (loud dramatic singing) IN THE CIRCLE…  THE CIRLE OF LIFE!

Pai: (wincing)

Molly: (extremely excited at my singing, clapping and screeching along with me)

Me: (sigh) I have always wanted to be a tree. If Buddhist and Hindu religions are correct then I may have that opportunity some day.

Hank: To be a tree?

Me: Yes, or I have already been a tree. In those religions they believe that we start our journey and work our way up to being a human. We live all the lives from bug, to animal and lastly to human. You live over and over learning the most you possibly can until you have come to the highest form of enlightenment and then you can transcend to what is called Nirvana or what Christians call heaven.

Hank: And there are many kinds of religion.

Me: Yup and they all have a very important commonality: faith. Faith is the belief that there is something greater than us. There is no wrong religion. They all ask you to believe that you are on a journey to be the best possible person you can be, but none of them let you know what the end of the story is, because mystery is an important component to discovery. You can only discover who you are that way. If you knew the end of the story you wouldn’t stick around to read the middle. Religion aims to assist your soul.

Hank: (puzzled look)

Me: Do you know what a soul is?

Hank: (shaking his head no)

Me: Your soul is your personality, your imagination, why you laugh and dance and sing and make art. Your soul is what your body supports. Your body is the house for your soul. Just like a snail and his shell. Religion aims to help your soul navigate.

Hank: That is all great, but what I have really been thinking about this whole time you were talking is that I really just want a glass of water. (shaking his empty glass) May I be excused?

Pai: (snickering)

Molly: (growling)

Hank: What?

Me: (giggling) Nothing. Sure, off you go. First major dogmatic conversation and your takeaway is thirst. (shaking my head) It is just perfect really.

Hank: (walking away) I also learned about trees. That is good for my soul.

Pai: (collapsing laughing)

Me: (positively purple with laughter) True story. (wiping tears from my eyes)




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)