Molly’s Best Big Brother

Hank texted me this morning so he wouldn't wake up his pai (dad) who is sick with a cold.

Hank texted me this morning so he wouldn’t wake up his pai (dad) who is sick with a cold.


Me: (eyes glued shut, barely conscience, walking into the living room) Now, what is all this?!?!

Molly: (up two hours early, chipper as a squirrel) MAMA! Good morning! It morning time.

Me: MaGoo, the sun has not yet risen. It is still sleeping-time unless you are Hank and it is get-ready-for-school-even-though-everyone-else-is-still-in-bed-time which would still include me for another 15 minutes on a normal weekday. (inescapable yawn)

Hank: (having turned on cartoons, tucking his sister into a blanket) She actually woke up at 5am.

Me: Did you now?

Molly: I wake up!

Hank: She woke me up in the sweetest way and asked for water.

Me: For real!?

Molly: I say please.

Me: Well done.

Hank: It wasn’t a big deal. I had a water bottle next to my bed.

Molly: I drank water.

Hank: And then she went back to sleep until my alarm went off and she got up with me.

Molly: I no sleep. Mano (brother) sleep. I be quiet.

Me: Is that so? That was very kind of you, Amália. That is very respectful of your roommate.

Molly: I wake up! I no sleep well.

Me: You know, last night I didn’t sleep well either.

Hank: You didn’t?

Me: No, I wasn’t able to stay in my dreams. I kept waking up before the plot thickened.

Molly: I no stay in my dreaming, mama. I wake up.

Me: Me, too!

Molly: Me, too! I get up. (kicking off her blanket) I get dressed now, please. I go to school with mano (brother).

Hank: But…

Me: Are you sure you can go to school with mano (brother)?

Molly: Yes.

Hank: I work all day at my school. No playing.

Me: Do you think you could spend the whole day being very quiet and sitting very, very still?

Molly: (without hesitation pulling the blanket back over herself) No.

Hank: Then you better go to your Ama’s (nanny’s) house today.

Molly: Okay.

Me: Thank you for being Molly’s best big brother, Hank. I don’t know of another ten year old who would be so sweet after being awoken at 5am. Most other siblings would have yowled for their mother.

Hank: I don’t mind. I used to wake up at night when I was her age and I’d be so scared and too afraid to call for you. I am happy she has me. I like helping my mana (sister). She’s too sweet to be annoying.

Me: Just remember that when you’re thirteen and she is six.

Hank: Oh, that is my dream. Then I can go and get her from school and we can go to the café and I will buy her a cake and we’ll talk about our day, then we will walk home together.

Me: (shaking my head in grateful disbelief) See, this is why I don’t play the lottery; I’ve already won!

Molly: I firsty, mama.

Me: One chocolate milk, one coffee and one decaf coffee coming right up!

Hank: Okay, I will go get ready now, but Mama, can I have a chocolate milk today?

Me: Claro (of course).

Hank: (wilting into a snuggle pile with his sister on the sofa) Today, I want to be just like my mana (sister).

Molly: (wrapping around her big brother) I love you, mano (brother).

Hank: I love you, mana (sister).


Squirrels Plant Forests

conversations with hank


(Molly and I tucked up in my big bed one afternoon, reading a stack of books, she snacking on a fun-sized bag of gummy bears)

Me: The End.

Molly: More, mommy! More books!

Me: Which one would you like to read next, chicken? We have a book with no words and only pictures and BIG stories we can dive into.

Molly: (finishing her gummy bears, crumpling the wrapper, stashing it under my pillows) Um, this one!

Me: Excuse me, Ms. Molly MaGoo, are you a squirrel?

Molly: A skwereal? I no skwereal.

Me: Are you sure? Do you know what squirrels do with their lives?

Molly: (shaking her head no)

Me: Squirrels plant forests.

Molly: (eyes like saucers)

Me: One little squirrel has the capacity to plant a whole bosque de carvalho (forest of oak) because those silly little tree creatures spend all autumn collecting bolotas (acorn), burying them in the ground, then completely forgetting where they are.

Molly: Yummy bolotas! Acorns! Like Totoro.

Me: Exactly. So Amália Sofia?

Molly: Yeeeeeesss?

Me: Are you a squirrel?

Molly: (giggling) No, I a girl.

Me: Then why are you planting your candy wrapper in my bed? Do you think gomas (gummy candy) grow on trees?

Molly: (giggling) No.

Me: And is my bed the forest?

Molly: (giggling) No, mama.

Me: This isn’t Candy Land. My bed isn’t Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!

Molly: (giggling) No.

Me: Then tell me, my little misguided squirrel, why are you planting your reciclagem (recycling) in my bed?

Molly: Um?

Me: Are you a squirrel?

Molly: (giggling) No, mama.

Me: Will that wrapper grow a gummy tree?

Molly: (twisting with amusement) No, mama.

Me: Then, my darling one, where does that wrapper go?

Molly: (thinking) Um… Um… Um… recycling?

Me: And can you take your gummy wrapper to the recycling?

Molly: (packing the small, plastic wrapper tightly into her tiny fist) One more book, please? One more book THEN yes.

Me: Sounds like a plan, little squirrel.

Molly: I no skwereal, mama. I no make bosque (forest). I a chicken.

Me: Alright, little chicken, pick your book.

Molly: Um… (reviewing her options) This one!

Me: Good choice. Oh, and Molly?

Molly: Sim (yes).

Me: Did you know books are made of trees?

Molly: Skwereal trees?

Me: (smiling with my whole soul) Sometimes.

Molly: (nuzzeling into pillows and blankets and me for her story)


Pratos no Forno


A cookbook for oven baked dishes.

A cookbook for oven baked dishes.


(door opening, Pai and Hank tumble in from grocery shopping)

Me: Howdy, boys.

Hank: (shopping bags banging against his legs) MOM, you cannot come into the kitchen because we have a surprise and we need to get it ready for you.

Me: Oh, thank you, but I have a story I am DYING to tell.

Pai: Tell the story from the hallway.

Hank: Yah, just no peeking at what we’re doing.

Me: Roger that. So, while you were out our friendly, well-meaning Circulo de Leitores guy (door-to-door book salesman) came and he hands me a book and says, “Para te (for you),” and I didn’t order any books so I hand it back to him thinking he has the wrong house, but then I see [Pai’s Name] on the receipt.

Pai: Yah, I…

Me: Wait, don’t ruin my punch line. So, I say, “Ah, meu marido deve ter comprado esta série. Vou pegar o dinheiro. (My husband must have bought this series. I will go get the money).” But then he says, “Maravilhosa, uma surpresa para te. Vai receber um por mês. Esta série é uma das nossas mais vendidas (Wonderful, a surprise gift for you. YOU will get one a month. This series is one of our best selling).” And then I realize he is saying this because you bought a cookbook.

Pai: Guilty. Tell me, did you murder our poor Circulo de Leitores guy? Is there a body I need to dispose of because you are too arthritic?

Me: No, it’s not his fault he isn’t awake to the changes in the world. I reminded him, “Senhor, tu sabes, eu não leio os portugueses bem. Eu entendo e eu falo melhor do que eu leio. Meu marido não comprou esta série para mim, ele comprou para ele mesmo e tecnicamente, eu estou pagando por ele, então eu estou comprando um livro de receitas para o meu marido, que ele deve usar para cozinhar para mim (Sir, as you know I don’t read Portuguese well. I understand and I speak it better than I read. My husband did not buy this series for me, he bought it for himself and technically I am paying you for him so I am buying a cookbook for my husband which he shall use to cook for me.).”

Pai: What did he say?

Me: His eyes were as big as saucers.

Pai: I can almost feel what you said next. Did you…

Me: (interrupting) So I said, “Talvez-tu devesse comprar esta série para cozinhar para sua esposa, pois é das suas mais vendidas (Maybe YOU should buy this series and cook for your wife since it is one of your bestselling).”

Pai: I knew it! What did he say?

Me: His eyes were as big as dinner plates and he laughed.

Pai: As if a man cooking for his wife was the funniest thing he had ever heard?

Me: Exactly.

Hank: Wait, I don’t get it. What is wrong with a man buying a cookbook? I love cookbooks. I love cooking and I will be a man. Ricardo cooks for Ana.  Papa cooks for us. What is the big deal about papa buying cookbooks?

Pai: You and I are the reason the antiquated ideas of gender and who should do what will end.

Hank: Sure… Okay. (quickly changing gears) Mom, you can come in now, your surprise is ready.

Me: (entering the kitchen carrying Pai’s new cookbook, sarcastically) You mean I get two surprises in one night? One patriarchal and the other…

Hank: NACHOS with guacamole!

Me: (eyes as big as dinner plates) SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!

Hank: We figured after having a sick day all day from your medicine you could use something special.

Pai: (from behind the open pages of his new cookbook) Hank figured. This was his idea and he made your nachos.

Me: These looks amazing, Hank, thank you. Shall we share them?

Pai: I’m good. You two go. I am going to make dinner. We have all the ingredients to make dish 56: Masa Gratinada com Espinafres e Ricotta (Baked Stuffed Shells with Spanich and Ricotta).

Me: Yum!

Pai: Go on, now! Get out of my kitchen!

Hank: (carrying our nacho’s out of the kitchen on a tray) Thanks, papa! Let me know if you need help.

Pai: Will do.

Me: (beaming)