After School

conversations with hank

Me: Tell me everything. Did you have a good day?

Hank: Yes, mostly we practiced my dance for the end of the year party. Can you come and see my dance?

Me: I wouldn’t miss it.

Hank: Oh good. I was worried you would be too sick to come.

Me: I will be there. Imagine how proud Molly will be of her big brother dancing.

Hank: And there will be chairs incase you need to sit down.

Me: Perfect.

Hank: It is almost the end of school!!!

Me: I know. Amazing. You will be in 4th grade!

Hank: I am ready. How was your day, mama?

Me: I have very little to report. I was in bed practically all day. Molly and I have been leveled by this cold.

Hank: That’s where you were supposed to be. Sometimes the body needs rest and the best thing you can do for yourself is rest if that is what your body needs.

Me: Thank you very much for saying so, I needed to hear exactly those words. How did you get so wise, Hank?

Hank: From you and papa and my heart. I have no homework, can I use my phone?

Me: I don’t know, can you?

Hank: (pause) May I?

Me: You may after I collect my hug.

Hank: Sure.

Me: (from the best hug ever) You have to pay a pretty high tax of hugs in this house to get what you want.

Hank: I don’t mind. (kissing my cheek before scuttling off)


Donald Trump and the 2016 Primary Election

Casting my ballot for the American 2016 Primary

This past April casting my ballot for the American 2016 Primary from Portugal


Hank: (panicked) Mama!

Me: Yes? What? Is everything okay?

Hank: No, everything is not okay. Do you know about Donald Trump?

Me: What about Donald Trump?

Hank: He might be president of America.

Me: This is a possibility.

Hank: He is a very bad man.

Me: How so?

Hank: I watched on YouTube. He called women that he doesn’t like dirty pigs. (mouth agape with shock and horror) That is not okay.

Me: I completely agree.

Hank: Mama, you vote in America, right?

Me: I do, indeed.

Hank: Who did you vote for?

Me: That is a very private question. In America it is considered rude by a lot of people to talk about religion or politics, but in Portugal it is the opposite and since you are my son and elections, voting and politics are very important to me I will tell you.

Hank: Please, tell me you didn’t vote for Donald Trump.

Me: I vote for the democratic party. Currently, The United States is having a primary election to pick who will run in the general elections for the US government in November 2016. The Republican Party, a party I do not support, has already picked their candidate, Donald Trump.

Hank: HOW COULD ANYTHING THINK HE SHOULD BE PRESIDENT? He doesn’t like women who he doesn’t like, like who he doesn’t think is pretty. THAT IS CRAZY. People come in all shapes and sizes and all PEOPLE are beautiful unless they have ugly, broken hearts. Donald Trump has an ugly, broken heart.

Me: Agreed. He should run under the Ugly, Broken Heart Party and not the Republican Party. During his first speech announcing that he was running for president he said things so offensive I gasped the kind of gasp you only make when a kitten runs into traffic.

Hank: I know that gasp.

Me: Donald Trump says things out of ignorance, privilege and the fear of losing that privilege. He doesn’t live in the real world and therefore doesn’t participate in it. He will not make a good president and only further distance American from the rest of the world. America needs a president that will maintain it’s current laws and place in the world, not regress it by 60 years.

Hank: Who did you vote for, mama?

Me: I voted for Bernie Sanders because he will do his best to evolve some parts of America more like Europe and the rest of the world in terms of taxation, education and healthcare and I feel that so many Americans could have a better quality of life if they adopt and transition to the systems we have here. In the democratic primary there are still two options, because not all the votes have been counted. If Bernie Sanders doesn’t get the nomination then I will vote for Hillary Clinton, who was the former Secretary of State because I know she will preserve the current state of American civil liberties and she has long standing diplomatic relations with the rest of the world which is something we cannot say of Donald Trump.

Hank: Donald Trump will hurt people’s feelings.

Me: He would, he will and he has. The president of the United States affects the whole world not just America and hate speech should not be tolerated by anyone and most importantly by the President of the United States of America.

Hank: I just can’t believe some people don’t see that Donald Trump’s heart is sick.

Me: Honey, there are large amounts of people with broken hearts that have never healed. It is easier to stay ill, ignorant and full of hate than it is to realize you are equal to everyone else on the planet. Every single person in the world knows something you don’t know and you know something they do not. Therefore, you are never superior to anyone and no one is superior in intelligence, wealth, social class or residence to you. We are all equal BUT not everyone in the world wants to believe that. It is too frightening for them.

Hank: If I met Donald Trump I would be respectful, but I would tell him that my mother and sister are beautiful and that I would like to help him change his mind about that.

Me: I could not be more proud of you than I am right now, Henrique José Hanford Pereira.

Hank: Will you tell me who wins the election?

Me: Hank, the whole world will know, you will not be left in the dark, but I will keep you posted.

Hank: Thank you for voting for the better option, mama.

Me: Thank you for caring about the state of the world, Hank.

Hank: (tossing his arms in the air in surrender) I have to live here. (walking away) There is no where else for me to live.

Me: (deep cleaning breath) Truth.




A perfect picnic spot

A perfect picnic spot


(over breakfast)

Hank: I almost totally forgot! How was your doctor’s appointment yesterday?

Molly: (riveted by nursery rhymes)

Me: It was a gift!

Hank: Really?

Me: Remember last weekend when Joana and Cristiano came over for brunch?

Hank: Yes, they are so nice and they are having a baby.

Me: They are, indeed. Well, after meeting me and hearing about my disease advancement they asked if I knew of Cristina, a physical therapist in Vizela who specializes in helping people like me and I told them I had and that I was on the wait-list to get an appointment with her because she is so popular and helps so many people have a better quality of life there is a queue. Well Joana is a psychologist, the kind that helps people with their feelings…

Pai: (interrupting with a mouth full of toast) Not like papa who is a scientist.

Me: Correct and Cristiano is…

Hank: An enfermeiro (nurse).

Me: Right, and unlike most people who listen and are empathetic and wish they could help when Joana and Cristiano saw (getting emotional) how difficult my health challenges are they both spent last week calling Cristina’s office multiple times and were able to get me an emergency appointment. Which is just the kindest, most generous thing ever.

Hank: That is really nice.

Me: I mean I just met them, but they really saw that we, all of us, were doing our best, everything we could, but needed help.

Hank: When you hurt I hurt, too and papa and probably Molly but she can’t talk yet.

Me: (nodding, taking his hand) I have been saying for a year, ever since I went to the ER in May of last year that I needed a plan of attack. I tell every doctor this. I need to be actively doing something and the rheumatologists I have met have a different opinion. They think that I should be calmly waiting of medication to stabilize my disease advancement before I am actively doing something. Which is the hardest thing ever.

Hank: I know this because that is why you have been in the house and resting.

Me: When we met with Cristina she had the complete opposite opinion and we spoke at length and formed a plan of attack. The exact thing I have been needing and Cristina is confident that if we work together that I can regain most of the mobility I have lost.

Hank: Really? Really, mama?

Me: (sobbing) I have hope. (deep breath) For the first time in a year I have hope.

Hank: Happy tears, right mama? I am so happy! I am so happy.

Me: (deep breath) Hank, I feel like for a year I have had an elephant sitting on my chest and I have finally convinced that elephant to get up and leave and I can breath again. It is going to be a lot of work…

Hank: But you love to work. You are a hard worker, you and papa are. I know you can do it.

Me: (crying) And when I said all of this to Joana and thanked them she was so lovely and supportive and said they understood because it is part of their job to not just listen, but to do all they can and give their best help to people, their family and friends and Joana said that she cannot wait for me to be well enough to have picnics, all of us when their baby is born.

Hank: You love picnics.

Me: (beaming, wiping my heart on my sleeve live a big, red stain) I do! I love them. Picnics are my absolute favorite thing.

Hank: You are the best at picnic food. (coming over to give me a hug) I am so happy, mama. This is what I needed, too. I am so happy.

Me: Me, too! (with my fist up in defiance) We have a plan!


Me: (pulling myself together) Man, the things that can happen over waffles.

Hank: And bacon. Brunch makes everything better.

Me: (roaring with laughter) Truth.