Volunteering My Time

Photo by Hank

Photo by Hank


Hank: I would have never known you could go into a fancy hotel like this for a coffee without booking a room.

Me: I didn’t know this trick until your papa taught me many moons ago.  I love this room, I loved looking and the Christmas trees and decor in the lobby and of course the people watching stepping into a five star hotel affords.

Hank: And everyone is so nice.  They are nice like you are nice, nice like you mean it, not just pretending to be nice.

Me: It is the difference between kindness and being cordial.

Hank: Oh.

Me: One of the best jobs you can get and one I think every person should do for a time in their life is working in the hospitality industry, like in a hotel or a restaurant. You meet the best and the worst of people in the hospitality industry and having to be calm and cordial in the face of rude, ill mannered people will teach you a level of professionalism you can use in all aspects of life.

Hank: I would love to work in this hotel.

Me: Speaking of work did you have a good afternoon?

Hank: (sipping an over priced Ginger Ale) It was fun. I am always nervous, but then when I am doing the recordings, it is fun. I like working, but I am very tired now.

Me: (sipping my over priced sparkling water) That nervousness is called anticipation. Everyone, no matter how seasoned a performer or professional, gets nervous before speaking in front of people. Everyone, every single person, they just don’t talk about it.

Hank: Why don’t they?! I think it would help a lot of people to know that.

Me: Not everyone is as thoughtful as you. Some people enjoy the mystic of fearlessness.

Hank: Mom?

Me: Hum?

Hank: Thank you for volunteering your day to bring me to Porto. I heard you say that to the producer before we left Porto Editora (one of Portugal’s largest publishers where Hank sometimes works doing voiceovers and recordings for their English Language textbooks) and I hadn’t thought of it that way. You gave up your whole day for me. Thank you.

Me: (sincerely touched) You’re very welcome, Hank. Thank you for thanking me. It is very kind of you to say so, but I volunteer my time for you to do voiceover work because I love supporting you. I know it isn’t naturally easy for you to do, but the pride I feel when you punch fear in the face and do it anyway was all the thanks I needed. Until now. (tossing an arm over his shoulders)

Hank: I like working in a sound booth.

Me: And did you listen to the producer’s and the casting agent’s compliments? You were first on their call sheet for this job because you do great work. You were their top choice for today and that is something you should be very proud of.

Hank: I now understand what people say about it being hard to take a compliment, because I don’t want to believe that even though it is true. I will believe it, but my brain says they’re lying to make me feel better.

Me: They have zero reason to lie, they are not paid to lie and I don’t think either of them is the type to lie to a ten year old. Tell your irrational brain to sit down and shut up!

Hank: (sipping his ginger ale, swirling it with his fancy swizzle stick while we wait in the warm lovely bar at the Palacio das Cardosas hotel for our train, people watching out the large bay windows) I am. My brain doesn’t want to listen, but I will win.


Nightlight Cabaret

conversations with hank


(from their shared bedroom after lights out)

Molly: (sniff, sniff)

Hank: What’s wrong, mana (sister)?

Molly: I no wanna go to bed, mano (brother).

Hank: But mana (sister) it’s time to sleep. Everyone is going to sleep: mama, papa, Tia Adriana, Tio Louis, Avó e Avô (grandma and grandpa), Ariana and I am going to tell you Uncle Jesse and Grammy and Granda Snitch because you don’t understand time zones.

Me: (quietly cackling in my room across the hall)

Hank: Everyone everywhere is in bed and ready for sleeping! Even me! Look, I’m in bed, too!

Molly: (full fledged tears) But I no wanna sleep, mano (brother).

Hank: (tossing off his covers and going over to his sister’s bedside) Don’t cry, mana (sister)!

Molly: (ignoring her big brother and falling into fits and sobs)

Hank: What can I do to make sleeping better?

Molly: (crying)

Hank: Do you have enough friends to sleep with?

Molly: (crying)

Hank: Are you warm and cozy?

Molly: (crying)

Hank: You have to tell me how I can help!

Molly: (in between sobs) Spoon – Full – of – Sugar

Hank: You need some songs?

Molly: (still sobbing) Spoon – Full – of – Sugar

Hank: I don’t know that song very well. Do you need your mama to sing you some songs?

Molly: (ramping up the sobs) I neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeed mama! MAMA!

Me: (unpeeling the covers) Mãe já vai (mama’s coming)!

Hank: (at my door way in a flash) Did you hear everything?

Me: I did.

Hank: You always do! Can you help?

Me: Gladly.

Molly: (sobbing) Mama!

Me: Hush now, MaGoo. Hush. You won’t be able to hear the songs if you’re crying so! (clearing my throat in order to begin our Nightlight Cabaret)



Hank’s Christmas Bucket List



Hank: Mama, I’ve written a Christmas bucket list so I remember to, like, spend time doing things besides staring at my phone.

Me: Smart.

Hank: Do you want to hear it?

Me: Obviously!

Hank: 1. Make Christmas Cookies

Me: Of course.

Hank: 2. Ask papa to show me how to use his running machine, because I want to work on my fitness and it is so cold so no to the outdoors.

Me: (giggling)

Hank: 3. Throw an awesome Christmas Party.

Me: Every year! Every Single Year!

Hank: And 4. Watch Christmas Movies such as Elf, Home Alone because every year it is on RTP (a national TV station).

Me: Is that it?

Hank: Isn’t that enough?

Me: Homework… Reading?

Hank: Of course those, too! This is just the Christmas FUN bucket list.

Me: Huh.

Hank: Yah!

Me: Word. So which one of those do you want to do now?

Hank: Now?

Me: Yes, now.

Hank: Um… So like, there is this thing called Vlogmas

Me: (unamused)

Hank: (dashing off to stare at YouTube on his phone for HOURS) After lunch! Bucket list starts after lunch!!!

Me: (some serious Christmas side eye)