(after dessert, sitting at the dinner table)
Dr. Blaha (Urban Family* member visiting from The U.S.): Ahhhhhh, good times.
Pai: (raising his glass) Cheers to that.
Me: (raising mine) Let’s make this the best two weeks visit ever!
(all three of us cheers to that)
Molly: O pai (Hey, dad)? (walking back to the table after refusing to eat and pulling an epic two year old struggle for power nigh on 30 minutes ago which ended in a stalemate and Molly being excused from the table)
Pai: Sim, filha (Yes, daughter)?
Molly: (wide doe eye, sweet voiced, endlessly cute almost whimper voice) Tems fome (I’m hungry).
Pai: Oh, you’re hungry? Well, would you like some beans? (gesturing to the table full of food and specifically our evening side dish of braised pinto and white beans with potatoes, onions, carrots and rosemary)
Molly: (eyes firmly on her papa, not breaking eye contact for a second) SIM! (holding on to the arm of his chair and bouncing)
Me: Bravo, Amália. We’re so happy you’ve decided to join us for dinner.
Dr. Blaha: The beans are so good. You will love them, Molly!
Pai: I will get you a plate.
Molly: BEANS! Sit down? (pointing to her high chair)
Pai: (proudly picking her up, kissing her cheek, putting her into the high chair and pulling her bib over her head) Claro (of course).
Molly: (wiggling with excitement) Beans. Yum, yum! (nodding)
Pai: (proud she finally wants to eat something other than yogurt and jello) Here you are. (puts a plate of braised beans in front of Molly)
Molly: (there is a pause, she shakes her head trying to etch a sketch erase the image in front of her, the excitement drains from her face, she literally deflates, she whimpers as if she’s been kicked by the invisible manifestation of the indignities of life, she dramatically folds her arms protectively over her chest and looks as far over her left shoulder as possible before saying in the most pathetic voice)
No, thank you.
Pai: But you asked for beans.
Molly: (doe eyed, looks up at her favorite person in the whole wide world) Not beans. BEANS.
Dr. Blaha: (curiously furled brow)
Pai: (eureka) OH! (chuckles) Oh no. Amália, did you want jelly beans for dinner?
Molly: (so relieved she is finally understood, nods while her chin begins to quiver and a single tear rims her eye ready to drop) Sim. Gelly Beans. Not beans. Gelly. Gelly beans, please papa? Not beans. (shaking her head no and looking dramatically away letting the tears fall freely)
Me: (practically hyperventilating hysterics into my dinner napkin)
Dr. Blaha: (sympathetic) Oh my, (giggling) that was a misunderstanding.
Pai: But Amália you didn’t eat any dinner.
Molly:(nodding, hopeful, tears falling, sniffling) Dinner gelly beans. Dinner gelly beans, please?
Me: She has us painted into a corner.
Pai: How do I say no?
Hank: (from his video game) You can’t. She won. She’s not bossy she’s the boss, pai (dad).
Molly: (silently crying, tragically wounded expression of a martyr)
Pai: I can’t believe I am even considering this.
Me: This is the definition of a first world problem.
Pai: We never would have done this with Hank.
Dr. Blaha: Because you forget HANK ATE NOTHING.
Me: (gasp out loud, hand over my mouth remembering Hank barely surviving on avocado, sweet potato, milk, watermelon [Hank used to tantrum for watermelon when offered a cookie], bananas and the occasional Cheerio until the age of three) TRUTH!!!
Dr. Blaha: This wouldn’t have been a parenting dilemma for you guys the first time around.
Molly: (tiniest voice possible) Gelly beans, please?
Pai: (in defeat, walking into the kitchen) The things we do to have adult conversation!!!
Me: I’ll tell no one. This will be a secret between us five.
Pai: Don’t lie, you’re so putting this on the internet.
Dr. Blaha: NO! You have to put this on the internet.
Me: (eyebrow raised in gleeful compliance) Well, in that case….
Pai: (scattering a small handful of Brach’s Jelly Beans loving brought over from America on her high chair tray) So help me… This could only happen in this house, in this family, in our urban family!
Molly: (brightening up, posture straitened, wiping her tears on her sleeve realizing she has finally communicated clearly and her desires were being met) YAH!!!!!!! (clapping) GELLY BEANS!!!
Dr. Blaha: Man, I love our urban family*.
*Glossery of Hanford-Pereira Family Terms
Urban Family: A family member that is not blood related or related by marriage but a fully fledged member of your tribe, an aunt or uncle to your children, cemented by years and tears and laughter and often times PhD programs.