conversations with hank


Molly: (toddles into the living room, points to the TV) Happy Days!

Hank: Not now, mana (sister). It is my turn. (driving to Nice, France on the Xbox) You already watched Panda Caricas (singing dancing kids programing) and Ruca (Caillou in the states).

Molly: (belly out, knees locked, bottom lip out, pointing at the TV) HAPPY DAYS!

Hank: Mana (sister), I told you.

Me: (looking up from my book) Besides, you didn’t say, please, Amália.

Molly: (wanting to cry)

Me: (interrupting the tears before they can begin, saying in a sweet voice) Nope! No. No way, little one. (scooping her up in my arms) No way, no how!

Hank: We don’t get what we want when we cry.

Monica (our cousin staying with us for the summer): Amália, would you like some yogurt?

Molly: (from pout to delighted in under a second) SIM! (Yes)

Me: Sim, se faz favor, prima. (yes, if you please, cousin) Yes, please. Please. Yogurt, please.

Hank: And if that is too hard to say, say peas. Peas! We will understand you.

(a little while later, after yogurt)

Monica: Amália. Can you say your name? Say Amália.

Molly: No! (folding her arms and turning away)

Monica: Come on, Amália. You only say your name to you mãe (mom). Say Amália.

Molly: (full throttle sass) No! PEAS. (pause for dramatic affect) PEEEEEEEES.

Monica: (catching on) Oh, I am sorry. How rude of me. Amália, can you please say your name.

Molly: (thinking)

Monica: I would love to hear you say it, please.

Molly: (milking her new found power for all it’s worth)

Monica: Please?

Molly: (side eye) Ah-Molleee-Ah.

Monica: (delighted) Oh and where is Amália?

Molly: (proud, hugging herself) Aqui (right here).

Monica: Thank you, Amália.

Molly: (arms wrapped around her prima’s neck giving her a big hug) De-na-da (you’re welcome).

Hank: (whispers to me, driving through the Amafi Coast) Did you hear, mama?

Me: (book on my chest having witnessed the whole wonderful conversation, whispering back) Yes, I did.

Hank: (taking a hard left, whispers) She’s growing up.

Me: (whispering back) She sure is.


Best Day Ever

Dragon Food

Dragon Food


Me: Tchau (bye), Obrigada (thank you)!

Molly: (waving) Adeus (good bye).

Hank: Bye, bye, Maria!

Maria (Hank’s friend): Bye! Come Back. Okay?

Hank: Okay!

Pai: (waving as he pulls the car out of the steep drive and into the Eucalyptus Grove)

Me: Uftah! Careful of the Guardians of the Gate! (gesturing concern for two old, worn out, tiny mutts who are making it clear to us that this is their home and they are happy to see our backside)

Hank: This was my best day ever. First Gabe and Liz and Rob and Sam and now swimming in a forest with Maria and Sarah! And there was chocolate cake!

Me: (sigh) Ferias (vacation) is the best time of year.  I am house drunk, you guys. I am shaking that house was so incredible.

Alfredo: Make your millions, Joy, and I will find our forever house and it will be magical. (winking at me, not able to take his hand off the wheel on the woodland road) You will make it magical.

Hank: It was a real life mill, wasn’t it?

Pai: It was and Maria’s grandfather was born there. He had an architect renovate it.

Hank: He said that they delivered the farinha (flour) by burro (donkey).

Pai: How else do you get off this hill, especially in the wet winter?

Me: (weepy) When I was a little girl I dreamed of a house like that. A magical forest home with koi fish and water falls and a creek because fairies require water because the sound of the water masks their songs from human ears and because collecting due is a tedious job. I dreamed of a house just like that. I knew it existed. I just knew it and I was so excited to see everything I didn’t take a single photo. It is like it wasn’t real. They even had the swing wide enough for two!  It is like that house sprung from my imagination.

Hank: It was real, mama.

Pai: I think we may get invited back.

Hank: I hope so.

Pai: (taking a right at the church and driving up to the cemetery and not towards home.)

Me: Um…

Pai: (stopping the car under a patch of eucalyptus trees, turning to me) There is a shopping bag in the trunk.

Me: (puzzled)

Pai: You two always need Dragon Food don’t you? Aren’t eucalyptus seeds on the list?

Hank: Yes! (unbuckling Molly from her carseat)

Pai: Right, come on then. (leaving the car)

Me: (weepy, declaring for all to hear) I knew you were my person the minute I met you, Doctor Pereira, but it is moments like these that validate my life choices.

Pai: (throwing an arm around my shoulder, lovingly) Dry your eyes, pink lady (an old treasured nickname because I used to have a bright pick winter jacket when we were first dating). You can’t find the best seeds with tears in your eyes.

Hank: Come on, mana (sister). We are collecting Dragon Food. You come with me. Mama and Papa are having a little date.

Molly: (toddling off) Yah!

Me: (a weepy seed collecting mess of utter bliss)


Boundaries and Respect

conversations with hank


Hank: (doing his homework)

Me: (reading)

Molly: (making mischief)

Hank: Amália Sofia! Don’t even think about it!

Molly: (arms up, acting innocent) Whaaaaa? (What, I didn’t do anything!)

Hank: Mama, who is going to bring me my caramel chocolate for Easter?

Me: Me, of course.

Hank: Oh, right. Did you write to the Easter Bunny like you did to Santa?

Me: I wrote to the old, wise and kind grandfather bunny at the Palace of the Easter eggs and said, “ No need to send the Mother Cottontail Bunny here on Easter. I am no jackrabbit, but I would like to handle Easter at my house so the Little Country Bunny can get home to her 21 cottontail babies a wee bit earlier each year.***

Hank: I figured you did, but if you didn’t I thought we could ask the fairies to make sure the Easter Bunny brought Carmel Chocolate because it is my favorite, because I am sure Paige Portensia would know the Easter Bunny.

Me: Of that I have no doubt.

Hank: And I was also thinking that I really want to see a fairy. I think if I asked them very nicely and promise to be careful that they would let me see them just a little.

Me: I understand YOU want to see a fairy, but the fairies have made it very clear they are not comfortable being seen and you need to respect that. You wouldn’t want anyone to make you do something you were uncomfortable with no matter how kindly they asked you. The fairies have set a boundary. If you choose to cross that boundary you will disrespect them and there is a good chance you will lose them forever. No means no.

Hank: It is hard. I really want to see one.

Me: I understand. In your life you will encounter this feeling more than once. But it is of paramount importance that you respect when someone says no to you, no matter how hard it is and regardless if it is not what you want. You must respect people’s personal boundaries and comfort zones. Would you want to be disrespected?

Hank: No and I don’t want to hurt the fairies.

Me: They have blessed you with so much magic. If you cross the boundary you risk losing that magic forever for a moment of pleasure. What is the better choice?

Hank: Being respectful.

Me: And this conversation applies to friends, future love, work. Remember to always treat others as you would wish to be treated and to communicate as well as listen. You can write a respectful letter to Paige Portensia about wishing to see her and ask why children are not aloud to see fairies, but forcing without permission is unacceptable.

Hank: Maybe I’ll ask her. I have to think about it. I don’t want to hurt her feelings.

Me: Asking respectfully about a boundary isn’t offensive.

Hank: I’ll think about it.

Me: And I will think about the loads of Kinder Hippos and Caramel Chocolate I will shower you with on Easter.

Hank: (returning to his homework) Yum.

Molly: Wow! (sitting cross legged in the clean, folded laundry basket tossing socks out like Mardi Gras beads.)

Hank: Amália Sofia!

Molly: (riots of squeals and giggles, proud of herself)

Me: (ignoring the mess, returning to my book) Mischief Managed.

***I am referencing The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by DuBose Heyward a classic, amazing story about a working mother achieving her big dream. It is one of my favorite books.