Our Christmas Sadness

conversations with hank


Me: (reading)

Hank: (snuggling up to me on the couch)

Me: Did you have a lovely Christmas, buddy?

Hank: Yes. (pause) Mama, I have been thinking and wasn’t Maria Jóse supposed to come for Christmas?

Me: She was.

Hank: Why didn’t she come?

Me: I have been meaning to talk to you about this. It is a long story and I am not sure the story will answer your question, but lets see, shall we?

Hank: (nodding)

Me: You remember in October when we had tea at Maria Jóse’s house and she invited you for a sleepover? Well, when she booked the weekend she would’ve liked to have you and Irina (Hank’s best friend) over it was at a time when Irina’s mom could have asked to change weekends with Irina’s dad so she could go, but between October and the assigned weekend in December as you know Irina’s mom and dad have come to the point where they are no longer able to communicate or arrange things without a third person to help them.

Hank: I know. They have to go through the tribunal (courts). It happens sometimes in divorce.

Me: It does and it is never anyone’s fault, feelings are complicated and sometimes people need to ask for help to better communicate, but because of the situation between Irina’s parents the weekend needed to be rearranged, so I called Maria Jóse because Ana (Irina’s mom) was very stressed and overwhelmed because she didn’t want to disappoint Maria Jóse or Irina or you but she knew she wasn’t able to ask Irina’s dad for this favor.  I explained the whole situation to Maria Jóse and asked her if we could reschedule for the following weekend but she had other plans.  Because of ferias (school holidays) we agreed that you both would go to her the Monday after she got back from her trip. I could tell she was a bit disappointed, but a big part of friendship is being understanding and being willing to compromise. I tried to call her a few times after our conversation, but we didn’t connect and then you Tio passed away

Hank: And that was the weekend we were supposed to go to Maria Jóse’s.  I remember you told me. I wouldn’t have been able to go anyway.

Me: That’s right, but remember I told you not to worry because we had rescheduled.  When we returned from Alentejo and I went to meet Ana at the café to pick up Molly from her after work and Maria Jóse was there and we began chatting and were happy to see each other, but then Ana arrived and all of a sudden the conversation shifted and not in a kind way. Maria Jóse had questions about the sleepover and some adult matters and it was clear that contrary to what Maria Jóse said to me originally she was very upset we had asked her to reschedule the weekend and she felt used and deceived about some things.

Hank: Oh no.

Me: And that is where I was no longer able to keep my composure. I was very upset and felt lied to. I was upset she wasn’t able to see the situation as us asking for her help and I felt as though she was attacking Ana for something that was beyond her control, so I raised my voice and we began to argue. The disagreement wasn’t what was important and I should not have raised my voice, but we all do things when we are upset that are out of character. In the end I packed up Amália, apologized the owner of the café and left and I haven’t heard from Maria Jóse since, nor do I think I will again.


Me: The bottom line is Maria Jóse had gone out of her way to make a magical weekend for you and Irina and when we asked to move the weekend it spoiled a bit of the magic for her. That makes me very sad because that would be the last thing I would wish, but Ana needed help and I was upset that she hadn’t just said her true feelings from the beginning and therefore I reacted in an undignified like manner.

Hank: (sad) Friends need to help each other. You help the people you love if you can, that is what you always tell me. Maybe no one ever taught Maria Jóse that? Maybe she didn’t understand that we love her and were just asking for her help?

Me: (wrapping him up in a hug) Maybe. Thank you for saying that. I needed to hear just that. )deep breath)  I have been very confused about how something I thought was a simple favor could have done so much damage to a friendship I was honored to have. I don’t know what the future will bring, but what I know to be true is none of this nonsense has anything to do with you or Irina. When you see Maria Jóse around town you run up to her and give her the biggest and best hug you can because she is a wonderful and special person.

Hank: I am worried she had her Christmas alone.

Me: I truly hope she had a wonderful holiday. I kept her in my heart as I always will, but what our argument showed me is that her concerns were focused on herself. She didn’t hear that Ana and I were asking her for help she only saw how her weekend was spoiled. I would very much like to be wrong and if I misunderstood her I would truly apologize and ask for forgiveness, but until then I cannot have a friend who isn’t compassionate, understanding and willing to compromise in a crisis.

Hank: Friendship isn’t just about you.

Me: Nope.

Hank: I hope she knows she is special and so are we and that we can be friends again. I understand about the weekend. I also wanted to go, but Irina needs to have her weekends with her dad, too. It is a hard thing to understand, but I understand it. I want Maria Jóse to understand, too.

Me: As do I, Hank, but you have to be open to learn.

Hank: (nodding) I’m sorry about everything.

Me: I’m sorry, too.


President of the United States of America

conversations with hank


Hank: Mama, If I were President of the United States of America I would make it so water was 50 cents and soda was a dollar and I would make it so that healthy food was not more expensive than fast food.

Me: Like it is here in Europe.

Hank: Yes, but it is changing. Burger King, that new burger place, sells two hamburgers for €5. FIVE-EUROS! That is crazy.

Me: And in America people say you SHOULD make a healthy choice…

Hank: You should, healthy is better for you. A treat is a treat and shouldn’t be every day.

Me: Agreed, but if you are hungry and do not have the resources to select a healthy option you will choose what will feed you over what will sustain your health.

Hank: Right.

Me: You would be a great President of the United States of America because you have a global view of things having grown up here in Europe.

Hank: Yup. I can be the President of America because I was born there but Molly can’t but she can be the Prime Minister of Portugal.

Me: What a wonderful world that would be. I would be very proud of you both.

Hank: Me, too.



conversations with hank


Hank: Mama, I have two favorite parts to my body. One is my heart and the other is (walking over to me half in and half out of a sweater) this part of my finger where my pencil sits.

Me: I have that, too! When I was your age that was also my favorite spot. It is a writer’s mark.

Hank: Yah, because we writers hold a pen so much our body makes a place for it.

Me: (whispering) Because writers are born not made.

Hank: (whispering back) Because writers have to write just like artists have to make art.

Me: (wink)

Hank: (attempting to wink back but kinda turned into a blink and then he sneezed because of the effort and the sweater and the power of the secret.)

Me: Gesundheit!

Hank: Thank you, I think?

Me: It means to you health like saying saúde in Portuguese.

Hank: Oh, Dutch?

Me: German.

Hank: Right.