4th Grade

conversations with hank


(door bell way too early, collective household bedhead and pajamas)

Me: (pouring coffee) Hank, push the button.

Hank: I’m pushing the button, but I can’t open the door. I am in my cuecas (underwear).

Pai: Can someone get the door? I am in the shower.

Molly: DANÇA (Dance)! (boogieing down to kids music)

Me: (lumbering to the door, large coffee cup, meeting the mail carrier) Bom dia, minha! Tás bem? (Good morning, young lady. You good?)

Mail Carrier: Estou. Tenho livros de teu filho. Desculpe a caixa é pesada. Pode? (I am. I have the books for your son. Sorry the box is heavy. Can you?)

Me: (taking the heavy box from here and placing it on the floor) Pode, amiga! Obrigada. (I can, friend! Thank you)

Mail Carrier: Bem. Assine aqui e… (Good. Sign here and…)

Me: (signing)

Mail Carrier: Bom fim de semana! (Have a good weekend)

Me: Igualmente (Same)

Mail Carrier: (catching the elevator)

Me: (closing the door) HANK!

Molly: DANÇA! (Dance!)

Hank: Is it for me?

Me: It’s your books, buddy.

Hank: REALLY, can I open it?

Me: I’ll get the scissors.

Molly: DANÇA! (Dance!!!)

Hank: (trying to force the box open)

Me: Tem calma (calm down).

Hank: I am so excited.

Me: (successfully opening the box)

Hank: Oh, wow! Look, they say 4th grade on them. (hugging a shrink wrapped package of books to his chest) I am going to be in 4th grade.

Me: I can hardly believe it. I am so excited for you.

Hank: A whole new year. The last year at my school. I get my same teacher again. And today I will go through my pencil case and see what I need.

Me: I hated school, but I loved school supplies. I still love school supplies.

Hank: I don’t hate school, but I love school supplies.

Me: Shall we go to Staples today and browse?

Hank: I don’t have my list of things I need yet from my teacher.

Me: We don’t have to let that stop us. We can breathe in the smell of fresh, never used notebooks and see what’s new in the pen section.

Hank: I love the smell of new notebooks. How did you know that?

Me: Name five people who don’t love that smell.

Hank: Mama, for now you are my person. Someday I will meet a person I love and they will be my person but right now you are my person. You get me. I love you.

Me: Thank you for being my best boy.

Hank: 4TH GRADE!

Molly: DANÇA! (Dance)

Hank: (getting up to celebrate with his dance happy sister) Dança (dance)!

Me: (celebrating by sipping my coffee, smiling at my dancing babes)






Toddler Logic

conversations with hank


Me: (spooning the last of her breakfast into her mouth)

Molly: Já ta. (all done)

Me: (exhausted from battle) Finalmente!! (finally)

Hank: Magoo, here watch your songs on my phone.

Molly: (elated) Happy!!! Happy!!!! Happy days!

Hank: You want to watch Happy? (singing) If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands! (clap, clap)

Molly: (full, baby pout) Não (no)!! (arms wide gesture as if it was obvious what she meant) Happy days!

Me: (coming back in from the kitchen with the worlds largest coffee) Beware of toddler logic. She wants to watch Musicas da Carochinha. That is what Happy Days means to Molly.

Hank: But that makes no sense (pulling up Carochinhas, Portuguese kids songs on YouTube). Happy Days is English. These are Portuguese songs. She should say, “Dias Felizes” (Happy Days).

Me: (exhausted before 9am, collapsing on the sofa from my hard won breakfast victory) Such is the nature of toddler logic.

Hank: (loading Musica da Carochinhas, handing over his phone to Molly) Is this what you want?

Molly: YAH! (ecstatic)

Me: Say thank you to your Mano (brother), Amália. (sipping my coffee)

Molly: Bree-Gada, Mano (Thank you, Brother).

Me: Communication is a powerful tool. Toddlers know that. When you can communicate you get exactly what you want, but how a toddler associates with something isn’t always how a brother or a parent sees it.

Hank: I don’t get it.

Me: You began communicating later than Molly. When you were almost three you kept asking for “Tulips.”

Hank: Like the flower?

Me: Exactly. All the time. Tulips? Tulips? Tulips? I took you to the garden center and you cried because that wasn’t what you meant. I took you to the crafts store and handed you silk tulips but you cried because that wasn’t what you meant. I drew you hundreds of tulips on the drive way in chalk, I drew you tulip coloring pages, but you just cried because that wasn’t what you meant. Then when we were staying with Josita, right before we moved to Portugal, one day we were driving to the beach and I put on a Goldfrapp CD and all of a sudden you were screaming, so excited, “TULIPS! TULIPS!! TULIPS!!!” Dancing around singing, “BAH BAH BAH BAH! Tulips, Tulips!”

Hank: It was a song?

Me: It was a song called Caravan Girl that had NOTHING AT ALL TO DO WITH TULIPS! Absolutely maddening. I listened to that song for a solid month before you got tired of it. It was a huge improvement from your ABBA phase, though.

Hank: OH yah, I loved Mama Mia.

Me: Loved is an understatement.

Hank: Babies are tricky.

Me: Babies are a puzzle you put together without a clear picture of what they will become with the borders always changing.

Molly: (dancing, loving life)

Me: You can’t control how a kid will grow. You just have to love, protect and support them along the way. Hardest but best thing ever being a mom or a dad.

Hank: Or a brother.

Me: (smiling into my coffee) Or a brother.






Me: (working)

Hank: Mama, can I take my book to the bathroom with me?

Me: (not looking up) Best place to read a book is in the bathroom, but no library books in the bathtub. Too risky.

Hank: Oh, good, because I really have to use the bathroom, but my book is so good and I don’t want to stop reading. (leaving the room)

Me: (to myself) Nothing more gratifying than reading a book while you’re taking a sh—

Hank: (interrupting, returning to the doorway) MAMA! Please, you can make a better choice!

Me: (swiveling away from my work, to face him) You are absolutely right, Hank. I should make a better choice. (dramatically clearing my throat) There is nothing more gratifying than reading a book while you POOOOOOOP-Pooop-Poop-poooping-pooop-poop-poop! (standing to do my ultra embarrassing shaky-butt dance, howling/singing) Poooooooop-poopity-pooooop-pooop-poopy-pooop! Pooop! Poop!

Hank: (collapsed on the floor, hysterically laughing)

Me: You’re absolutely right, Hank! This is a better choice. (dancing around the house) Poooooooooop! Read while you POOOOOOOOOOOP! Poop-poop-poopity-poop! Pooooooop-poopy-pooooooooooooooooooooop!

Hank: (practically purple with laughter)

Me: (moving on to my Soul Train line classic strut, singing to the tune of Rapper’s Delight by the Sugarhill Gang ) Read while you Poop. Poop. Poopity-pooh. Read while you Poop. Poop. Poopity-pooh. Poop. Poop. Poopity-pooh. Poop.Poop.Poopity-pooh! Read, read while you don’t stop. Poop. Poop. Poopity-pooh.

Hank: (desperately happy) Stop. Stop. Please! I need to catch my breath.

Me: And Po—

Hank: (interrupting) Mama! (deep breath)

Me: (still grooving to the song in my head while I return to my work)

Hank: (giggling as he opens the bathroom door)

Me: (humming The Sugarhill Gang as I return to work) Thanks for helping me make a better choice, Hank.

Hank: You’re Hilarious.