Portuguese vs American Dodgeball


Our Resident Photographer In Aldeia da Pena, Portugal.

Our Resident Photographer In Aldeia da Pena, Portugal.


(sitting down to dinner)

Molly: I want fish fingers.

Pai: Your mother made this lovely roast.

Me: And you had fish fingers for lunch.

Molly: (arms crossed in front of her, pouting)

Pai: Try this nice broccoli. You love broccoli.

Me: Dip it in the sauce.

Hank: You made gravy?!?!!

Me: Yup. When you survive a Monday you deserve gravy.

Hank: I love gravy.

Me: I think this is the most American thing about you.

Pai: Well, that makes two of us them.

Molly: (dipping her broccoli in gravy) Yummmmmmmmmy. I love molho (sause), too.

Me: Splendid! How was your day today, Hank?

Hank: (oozing with sarcasm) My gym teacher thought it would be a perfectly fine idea to let us 5th graders play dodgeball with the 8th graders.

Me: Oh good lord, no. (shaking my head) Just no!

Hank: It was awful. I got hit the most. This one 8th grade boy just met my eyes and whenever he had the ball he just hit me.

Me: But that’s good! Once you get hit in dodge ball you’re out.

Hank: In American dodgeball yes, but not in Portuguese dodgeball. Here it is more like futebol (soccer) and there are two… what are those called with the nets in English?

Me: Goals?

Hank: (nodding mouth full of roast and gravy) and the people who stand at the net?

Me: Goalies?

Hank: Yah, and if you get hit you have to go and defend the goal with them. YOU are never out in dodgeball. It is horrible and never ends. Plus, I always get picked last because they say I am too fraca (weak) and I am the same as a girl.

Pai: (wincing) Um…

Me: Whoa, not cool. Not all girls are weak and you aren’t weak! Sports just aren’t your thing. You’re killing it when it comes to your style, photography, robotics.

Hank: Kids call me a girl all the time, not just in gym. They either call me a girl or the older girls at school want me to be their best friend. (making a face of disgust)

Pai: The older girls think they’re helping.

Hank: But they’re not. (sigh)

Me: There should be a law about dodgeball. They ban perfectly wonderful books for less.

Pai: Not in Portugal. We don’t ban books in Portugal.

Hank: OR we should play with the American rules so that I can sit out. I’m picked last and the first one hit with the ball, every time. At least on Wednesday we all have to run 30 laps so we will all be too exhausted to do anything else.

Pai: You like running.

Hank: But not with other people.

Me: I wish I could make you invisible.

Hank: That is my wish, too.

Pai: It gets easier. It is still the first semester in a new school.

Me: And next year you won’t be the youngest anymore.

Hank: There is a new boy in my class and he likes to make fun of me.

Me: Like in class?

Hank: No, but as soon as we’re outside or in the lunch line.

Pai: He wasn’t in school with you last year?

Hank: Yah, and I have been using that guy’s thing, that Gibbs guy, where I just agree with him and am sarcastic. It’s working, I think. I feel better for saying something and not just taking it, but more people watch and laugh so that isn’t my favorite thing.

Me: Good for you, but is his teasing a problem?

Hank: No, he just thinks he will be cool if he picks on me. He’s new and feels left out because all the other boys have known each other since jardim infância (kindergarten).

Pai: That is a mature way of looking at it, but don’t let things get out of hand. We have a conference with your teacher scheduled. You can always let her know and the school can help.

Hank: It’s fine. I mean it’s not but… (pouring yet more gravy on his roast, rice, salad and broccoli) Agreeing with him and being sarcastic is helping. I know I’m not a girl, that I’m me and that I am who I am supposed to be and that’s okay. I don’t want to change, but…

Me: But it’s not easy being seen and having to stand up for yourself, but coming home to a whole pitcher of gravy helps?

Hank: Yah it does!

Molly: Mais molho (more sauce), papa!

Hank: What do you say, Amália?

Molly: Mais molho (more sauce), please?

Hank: Amália, this molho (sauce) is American. It’s called gravy.

Molly: Mais molho (more sauce) gravy please, papa, thank you. (nodding)

Hank: Good job, mana (sister)! You’re so smart.

Molly: Thank you, mano (brother), I smart.

Hank: (sigh) At least Friday is Christmas Break and I will have three whole weeks without school.

Me: Already?

Hank: (nodding, smiling, mouth full, gravy on the side of his mouth, ready for holiday break)



Amália Madeira, The Only Little Girl in Aldeia da Pena

Aldeia da Pena, Portugal Photo Credit: Hank

Aldeia da Pena, Portugal.   Photo Credit: Hank


Molly: (splashing in a spring fed fountain in Aldeia da Pena one of the most remote villages in Portugal. Population: 8) I like it here, mama. I love it.

Me: You do?

Molly: Yah! I do.

Me: Shall we see more?

Molly: Yah, we on adventure.

Me: We are on an adventure.

Molly: Yah, I love adventure. I aventureira (an adventurer)! (taking my hand and walking down the road)

Me and Molly in Aldeia da Pena. Photo Credit: Hank

Me and Molly in Aldeia da Pena. Photo Credit: Hank


Me: You are, indeed. Did you know that only eight people live in this village. Although, I’ve been told more come home for Christmas and summer holidays.

Molly: Yah.

Me: That means today you are the only little girl in this village.

Molly: It me?

Me: Yes, just you.

Molly: Okay.

Me: Once there were many little girls, but now they live closer to school and town.

Molly: No one is home. Não esta em casa (Not at home).

Me: Well, that isn’t true. We met Senior Antonio and his wife; they live here and this is their home. And the family that runs the restaurant, but their daughters are grown, no one as small as you anymore.

Molly: (pointing) What’s that, mommy?

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Me: (looking up to see a wooden statue of a little girl placed in the door of an old stone oven) Oh, well hello there.

Molly: (waving at the statue) Hello!

Me: I guess you aren’t the only little girl in this village after all.

Molly: Who’s that?

Me: Well, I don’t know. Do you know who she is?

Molly: Yes, her Amália! (bouncing)

Me: Her name is Amália, just like you?

Molly: Yah! Hello, Amália. (waving)

Me: I am very pleased to meet you Amália… Madeira (wood). My name is Joy and this is my daughter Amália Pereira (pear tree).

Molly: (covering her mouth to giggle when she heard their rhyming names) I Amália. I aventureira (adventurer)! Be my friend? Amália Madeira my friend, mommy?

Me: Oh yes. We shall be friends with Amália Madeira always and forever.

Molly: She come home with us?

Me: No, she lives here. If she came to live with us then Senior Antonio and his wife would be very lonely, I think.

Molly: Yah. She my friend. I love you, Amália Madeira.

Me: Me, too! I love you, Amália Madeira.

Molly: Awwwe, I give her hug?

Me: Blow her kisses and she will catch them.

Molly: (blowing kisses) She catch them, she catch them! I see! You see too, mommy?

Me: I did.

Molly: Amália Madeira my friend. She dances in my heart. I dance, too! (dancing in the rainy streets)

Me: (beaming) What else?

Molly: She little girl here. She the only little girl. Today, I here too! I make Amália Madeira happy. She make me happy. She make me sooooo happy, mommy.

Me: What a wonderful friend.

Molly: She my friend! She wonderful!

Aldeia da Pena is known as the village where “the dead kill the living.” Before the road was built the only way to access the village was by foot and if you wanted to bury your loved ones in consecrated ground you’d have to carry their remains out of the valley.  The journey was difficult and some died on along the way, hence the moniker.


Crying an Ocean of Tears In Her Ears

Backstory: When we encounter a stream or a good fountain it is Pai (Hank and Molly's dad's) job to make us paper boats to sail and at restaurants it is my job to turn our paper napkins into lotus flowers.

Backstory: When we encounter a stream or a good fountain it is Pai’s (Hank and Molly’s dad’s) job to make us paper boats to sail and at restaurants or cafés it is my job to turn our paper napkins into lotus flowers.


Molly: (overly tired, crying in her bed)

Hank: (in bed, asleep, wearing ear plugs and a sleep mask because no one ever called him dumb, not one day)

Me: Hey now, hey now, little darlin’. What is it we say every night? No more crying, time for sleeping.

Molly: (unaffected)

Me: (kneeling by her bed) Hush now, little chicken. What has you so upset?

Molly: (in between tears) I… Don’t… Want… Go to bed!

Me: I know, lovie. It’s hard to stop the day, but it’s time for dreaming.

Molly: No. (tears streaming down her cheeks)

Me: Instead of crying let’s play a little game, shall we? (laying my head on her chest) You be Totoro and I will be May.


Molly: (wants to stop crying, but doesn’t want to give up the fight)

Me: Who are you?

Molly: (sniffling)

Me: And this is where you say (whisper roar), “To-To-ROOOOO!”

Molly: (giggling)

Me: (pretending to be a three year old girl) Are you a Totoro?

Molly: (giggling, nodding)

Me: And then I lay on your big belly, because I am suddenly very, very tired and we go to sleep. (laying my head back down on her chest)

Molly: Mama, sleep with me?

Me: I can’t sleep with you, MaGoo! Your bed is much too small for me, but your bed is just right for you. I sleep just across the hall. I am always here.

Molly: Oh! (hand to her ears) I all wet!

Me: (brushing tears from her face) You cried an ocean of tears into your ears, silly chicken.

Molly: Ocean in my ears?

Me: Tears are salty like the sea.

Molly: (serious) Ocean in my ears?!

Me: Yes, and now that it is time for sleeping, why don’t we imagine that you have a real ocean inside your ears full of…

Molly: Fish!

Me: Yes and coral and sea weed and…

Molly: Seals!

Me: Yes and what else?

Molly: And… um…  And paper boats! Papa make paper boats? Paper boats for my ocean?

Me: Of course! Your papa always makes the paper boats and we will sail them on the ocean of tears in your ears.

Molly: Papa make paper boats and mama makes flowers.

Me: I do, don’t I?

Molly: Yah, mama makes flowers and papa boats and Mano (brother) is my best friend. (eyes getting heavy)

Me: Sounds perfect.

Molly: Yah. I all better. I on a paper boat. On a paper boat in my ear in ocean in my ear.

Me: (whispering) What a perfect place to be! (smiling while combing her hair from her eyes until soon she drifts off to sleep)