Hank: (Leaving the school gate, shocked) Mama, what are you doing here? Is everything okay? Where’s Amália? Is she okay?
Me: Whoa, slow down, sailor. Everything is fine. Molly is with your Avó Dalia (grandmother). I came to watch your swimming lesson and then take you to the café.
Hank: But how did you get here?
Me: I walked very slowly and I took breaks.
Hank: Are you sure you’re okay?
Me: Well, only half okay because I haven’t had a hug from you yet.
Hank: (from a hug) Are you really here to see me swim?
Me: It is about time I see your swim technique.
Hank: But are you okay, do you need a pillow.
Me: Hank, you are my little worrier, but I need you to trust me that I have enough spoons* to do this today and I am very excited to see your backstroke.
Hank: I have been working hard on my form.
Me: (beaming) So I’ve heard.
Hank: There are some stairs to climb to get to the place where the parents sit. I will help you up then I will go and change. We have time.
Me: Sounds like a plan.
Hank: Do you need anything else? Water? You can sit on my backpack if the seats are too uncomfortable for you.
Me: (squeezing his hand, beginning the slow journey to the swimming school which is a block from Hank’s school) I have a purse full of root beer barrels, I have my book which is very good and I have you. I have all that I need.
Hank: Can I have a root beer barrel? I know I can’t eat for 30 minutes before I swim but root beer barrels are like gum, right? Kids chew gum before swimming school all the time.
Me: (fishing two root beer barrels for him and me out of my purse, handing one over with a wink)
Hank: (dropping my hand to unwrap his favorite American candy) This is my best day ever.
Me: Mine, too.
*The Spoon Theory, by Christine Miserandino is an analogy to explain how a person with a chronic illness or disability manages their energy and activity levels throughout the day. This been an invaluable way for me to explain to Hank how I function in spite of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis. Click on the link to read more.
Me: Yes he did and one afternoon while driving around Arrábida he tossed that Renault 4 in neutral to coast and not waist gas but when he hit the breaks they no longer responded and he couldn’t get the car back in gear and lost control and that is how the whole family went off-roading in a Renault 4 down the mountain like in the movies.
Hank: But how did no one die?
Me: Thankfully your Avô (grandfather) kept the car level on their unplanned adventure. I am sure if the car flipped I would be telling a much different story.
Molly: (secretly in the corner trying to squirrel something away in her pajama pants)
Me: What is your sister up to?
Me: (popping up behind her) Oh, she found coins.
Hank: That’s not good.
Molly: (waving a disapproving finger) No, no, no!
Me: That’s right, MaGoo.
Molly: (waving a disapproving finger) Muggy, no no.
Hank: I’m sorry, mama. I think those coins came from when Irina, Mariama and I were playing with your purses. Your purses always have coins in them.
Me: That is true. It is a bad habit of mine. I am neglectful of coins. Once upon a time in America I used to move about once a year and your Uncle Jesse always would come and help me…
Hank: Because of your back?
Me: Yes, and because he is a great big brother. The deal was that your Uncle Jesse could keep any change that he found lying about my apartment and every few minutes I would hear him say to himself, “my change,” as he pocketed the coins. All said and done he would end up with enough to by himself a beer or two.
Hank: (giggling) My change.
Me: That is a good memory. Right, well it is time.