Growing Up

conversations with hank


(alarm going off)

Hank: (working at my bedroom desk on my computer) What the…

Me: (in bed) Break time.

Hank: Seriously?

Me: You have been studying hard for 30 minutes so that entitles you to a short break. It’s important to reward yourself while studying to stay motivated.

Hank: Okay.

Me: (patting the bed) Pop up here and let’s watch Casey Neistat’s latest video and then back to work.

Hank: Cool.

Me: (pulling up YouTube)

Hank: (fidgeting with something)

Me: Whats in your hands?

Hank: Just this (handing me a crumpled sticky thing).

Me: Oh man.

Hank: What is it important?

Me: (disappointed) Buddy, do you not remember what this is?

Hank: I’m sorry, no. I didn’t mean to do anything bad.

Me: I mean… It’s not a big deal, but this was special to me and you peeled it off my computer.

Hank: I’m sorry. I feel bad. I didn’t know what it was. Can we put it back?

Me: I’m afraid not. It’s okay. I can’t believe you don’t remember this, it was so funny, but that just shows me how much you have grown which is a great thing. I’m not upset. It’s just a silly little thing you made one day while playing with your papa’s label maker…

Hank: Which I am not supposed to do.

Me: No, you’re not. Man, I didn’t realize how long ago this was. You came into my office and you handed me this sticker and said, this is for you and when I asked you what it said, after reminding you not to mess with your papa’s label maker, you said you didn’t know and I told you to claim the word so we decided together that eoxxsssssssssssjje means the love between a snail and a crocodile so I stuck it on my computer and everyday when I open it to work I smile.

Hank: (cackling) Really? I don’t remember.

Me: But I don’t need this sticker to remind me.

Hank: I am sorry, my mama.

Me: Gawd, I mean, you’re eight! You’re my silly baby boy and you are eight.  I love that you are big and growing and special and caring and I don’t need eoxxsssssssssssjje on my computer to forever remember the importance of love between a snail and a crocodile. (deep breath, deep sigh, slightly giggling) Now… shall we?

Hank: (snuggling deep) Push play please, mama.



conversations with hank


Hank: Mama, is it okay to read now? (carrying his book) It is 9:30.

Me: (in bed) Absolutely.

Hank: (launching himself with such great enthusiasm that he elbows me in the eye with the force of a pro-wrestler)

Me: Ouch!

Hank: Oh, I am so sorry, mama.

Me: (wincing) Thank goodness for glasses.

Hank: Oh no, do you need ice?

Me: I’m good.

Hank: No, I hurt you and you already hurt so much with your RA.

Me: (making lemonade out of metaphorical lemons) It was an accident and no big deal. My eye was one of the few places not hurting so things are now more balanced. (giggling)

Hank: Are you sure or are you just being funny to make me feel better?

Me: I am being funny to make us both feel better, but I can’t get anything past you.

Hank: Are you sure you’re okay?

Me: (recovered) Yes, totally sure. You gotta try harder next time. I bet I won’t even get a black eye. You really need to commit next time you throw elbows.

Hank: (totally upset) Mama!

Me: (pulling him into a hug) I am fine. I promise. Please, don’t punish yourself. It was an accident. Truly.

Hank: (upset, hugging a little too tight)

Me: Did I ever tell you about the time Lyuba (family friend) kicked me in the head?

Hank: (letting go to face me) What?

Me: Oh yah, Lyuba, some friends of ours, your papa when we were just friends…

Hank: Before you kissed?

Me: (nodding) and I were playing a board game called Cranium and Lyuba decided to take the name of the game literally and in our mutual excitement to act out some part of the game her knee connected to my testa (forehead) at maximum force.

Hank: (gasp)

Me: I have been in a few fights in my life…

Hank: You have?

Me: Focus, Pereira… BUT I imagine that is what people mean when they use the phrase knock-out blow. I could kinda hear what was going on but it all sounded far away and the world was black. I couldn’t feel my front teeth and at first it didn’t hurt, but was more like a shocking blindness with pins and needles. You papa totally wanted to take me to the hospital, but I settled for an icepack. It wasn’t until the next day that I was in agony and for the next week I couldn’t touch my head.

Hank: Wow.

Me: So you’re gonna have to try harder next time to do any damage to you mama. I’m pretty tough.

Hank: Did Lyuba feel bad?

Me: Of course she did, but she also understood it was an accident. That is what you need to work on. When accidents happen feeling sorry is natural, but going to the dark place like you do isn’t.  You need to feel sorry, offer help and then move away from the sorry state without punishing yourself.

Hank: I just feel so so so so bad when things are my fault.

Me: I hear you and I understand, but when I say I am alright and that I understand it was an accident I also need you to hear me and understand.




Me: (deep breath)

Hank: (deep breath)

Me: Shall we read?

Hank: Yes. (holding my hand)



conversations with hank


Hank: Mama, How long are we going to keep this furniture?

Me: (getting Molly dressed) Oh, I’d say for years and years unless we move again, and not a small move, but a big move like New Zealand, Canada or Prague.

Hank: (giggling) Prague?!? What language do they speak in Prague? I know that is a beautiful city, but I don’t know where it is.

Me: They speak Czech, because Prague is in the Czech-Republic but when I was a kid the Czech-Republic was called Czechoslovakia which I have proven is almost impossible for my brain to spell correctly no matter how hard I practice, unlike Mississippi which I have nailed.

Hank: (giggling) Back to the furniture, mama. Can this dresser come with me into your office when your office becomes my room unless we move to Prague or New Zealand?

Me: This piece of furniture is negotiable, for sure.

Hank: Good. I am just so excited about my future. I love being a kid, but I am also excited for being grown up.

Me: It’s funny when you’re a kid and especially when you’re a teenager it feels like forever to become an adult and then once you are… man, you miss being a kid. Childhood is a magical time. Don’t rush, but I understand where you are coming from.

Hank: Being a kid is super nice because you have your parents to make you soup and your bed and get your clothes and then when you’re an adult that is your job.

Me: Being an adult is also stellar. You get to make all your own choices and passionately work at building your life and help make the world a more beautiful place.   You get to earn a living and go on holidays and save money and eat popcorn for dinner, but only when you are a kid is your whole focus on laughing and learning, your obsessions and passions without distraction.

Molly: (sleepily playing with an old Nokia potato phone while I wrestle her into her outfit)

Me: Also, when you’re an adult love changes. When you’re a child you love the people you are born with and given, but as you grow you get to choose your family and your friends and if you choose to have kids that is when love radically changes because all of a sudden you KNOW why childhood is so magical because you as the parent are in charge of the magic and love becomes your legacy.

Hank: What does legacy mean?

Me: Legacy is what you are remembered by. Legacy is what is left of you for the world to remember even after you’re gone.

Hank: Oh.

Me: And in my opinion one of the greatest legacies you can leave is that you did your best, you loved well and you made someone’s childhood magical.

Hank: Well, you and my papa, too, have done that for me and for Molly.

Me: (smiling) Molly and I.***

Hank: Right.

Pai: Hank, the bathroom is yours, please brush your teeth and do your hair.

Hank: See, when I am an adult I will need to remember to brush my teeth and put my hair down because when I was a kid a cow licked the back of my hair and it stuck up forever all by myself. (walking out the door)

Me: Wait.

Hank: (turning around) Do you think you have a cowlick because a cow actually liked your hair?

Hank: Didn’t it? That is what you said the word means and we lived in Indiana and there is a photo of me with cows at the feira (fair).

Me: (nodding, smiling, focusing on Molly’s tights)

Pai: Henrique?

Hank: Já vai (coming).

Me: (whispering) See Molly, magic.

Molly: (smiling)

** Thanks to a grammar savvy reader I know stand corrected.  Hank is in the right. I have consulted the rule books and now know the rules. It is always for me.  I will apologize to Hank tonight.  Thanks, Brian!