Ta Quase (Almost)

Molly (forcefully) leading their Afonsina (renaissance fair) dance

Molly (forcefully) leading their Afonsina (renaissance fair) dance and Hank trying desperately to keep up.


Molly: Quero (I want) get out.

Pai: But it is dinner time, Amália. We are all sitting down to our nice meal together.

Molly: Quero (I want) get down. Ir pro chão (go to the floor). No quero (want) eat.

Me: MaGoo? Is that spoken with kindness?

Molly: No. Get down. No eat. Cartoons? (nodding, doe eyed, hands clasp in prayer) Um-hum?

Hank: Amália Sofia we are all eating. You don’t have to eat, but it is not time for cartoons.

Me: She did have half an avocado.

Pai: Are we giving in to her demands?

Me: That depends on how kindly Molly can ask for what she wants. In this house nothing is impossible when asked with kindness and respect.

Hank: Where are your pleases and thank yous, Amália?

Molly: You’re welcome.

(collective giggle)

Me: No, say: May I watch cartoons, mama?

Molly: Pode (you may).

Me: (facepalm)

Pai: (chuckling)

Hank: Amália, you can get what you want if you use please, thank you and you’re welcome when asking.

Molly: Okay.

Hank: Can you ask nicely?

Molly: Pode, cartoons obrigada. (You may, cartoons please).

Pai: Ta quase. (Almost)

Me: (cracking up)

Hank: How is this not working?

Me: No clue.

Molly: Quero (I want) get down. Ah-ah-ah, Posso (May I) get down?




Molly: (yelling) POSSO MAMA (MAY I, MAMA)?

Me: (at the point of surrender, wanting to enjoy my meal in peace) Pode, amore (You may, my love).

Pai: (lifting Molly from her high chair)

Molly: MANO (BROTHER), (walking over to touch his arm, whispers) Mano, anda ca. (Brother, come here) Cartoons? (pointing to the TV)

Hank: What do you say Amália? Where is your kindness?

Molly: (kissing gently her brother’s arm, before grabbing it and yanking him toward the TV then abruptly singing from Moana) YOU’RE WELCOME!



Caught in the Rain

Eventually we made it home.

Eventually we made it home.


(dashing into a café and out of the rain after Hank’s morning run)

Hank: (anxious) Mom, there are no tables.

Me: Deep breath, my dove.

Hank: Mom! It is pouring out and there are no tables.

Me: Stay calm and scan the room.

Hank: Mom, what are we going to do? Should we go to another café?

Me: (scout a woman picking up her hand bag, make a dash for the table) See, stay calm and keep a level head and all will be well in the end.

Hank: I can’t believe it started raining.

Me: It was perfect timing. When it started drizzling and I was wondered if you would panic and stop your run to hide under a tree or something, but then you bounded over the hill just in time to hide under my tree before the worst of it hit.

Hank: I thought about hiding actually, but then I knew where you were sitting and my run was almost done so I just kept going.

Me: Thatta boy. Spoken like an athlete.

Hank: That makes me wonder what would happen if there was a marathon and it was raining?

Me: (dabbing my rain speckled forehead and cleaning my glasses) You run anyway.

Hank: And what about the winter when it is raining everyday?

Me: You run anyway, but with a bit more gear on so you doing get pneumonia.

Hank: Running is exciting.

Me: That makes me happy for you.

Hank: Today was easier than yesterday.

Me: Diligence is a wonderful attribute that both your papa and I posess in spades! I really hope you inherit this trait.

Hank: Does diligence mean hard work?

Me: Diligence means never giving up, always trying, setting goals and completing them. Diligence is the motivation behind thoughtful hard work and if you work diligently at something every single day you will be amazed at what you can accomplish.

Hank: That is how you write your books and papa makes his science research.

Me: Yes. Diligently. Diligence is an investment in something with the biggest pay off of being proud of yourself.

Hank: Tomorrow, I will remember to check the weather report before we leave. I wasn’t really worried about me in the rain, but I was worried about you.

Me: That sounds like a solid plan and thank you for worrying about me. Thank goodness for the Portuguese love of coffee! We can stay here, safe and dry, all day if we wanted to.

Hank: (looking out the window at the sheets and sheets of summer rain) We may have to!


A Rainbow We All Have on the Inside

When we got home I showed Hank the ColorBrewer schemes, a colorblind friendly way to show data, invented by Cynthia Brewer and the visual way I use to describe the spectrum of mental illness in everyone.

When we got home I showed Hank the ColorBrewer schemes, a colorblind friendly way to show data invented by Cynthia Brewer and the visual representation I had in mind when describing the diverse spectrum of mental illness.


(sitting outside of a café after Hank’s first morning training run)

Hank: (sipping fresh squeezed orange)

Me: (sharing his gigantic double stack of Portuguese style toast which puts American Texas style toast to shame)

Hank: I am sorry I am not very conversational today.

Me: No worries. We’re doing one of my favorite things.

Hank: Eating torrada (toast)?

Me: That and something called people watching.

Hank: Like just kinda… watching people?

Me: Exactly like just kinda that. We’re observing. We’re enjoying people’s outfits and imagining where they are going.

Hank: I bet she is going to work and those girls are going to the gym. And those grandpas aren’t going anywhere just talking.

Me: See… people watching.

Hank: Mama, this man here walking by, he’s homeless isn’t he?

Me: He is.

Hank: I have seen him a lot.

Me: He has a place he feels safe around here. I don’t want you to be frightened of him, but I want you to give him a lot of space. This man doesn’t live entirely in our world. He suffers from mental illness.

Hank: Oh.

Me: Did you know that every single person has a bit of mental illness? Mental illness is like a spectrum. We all have irrational moments where our brains lie to us, just some more so than others. Mental illness isn’t a choice and you should never judge someone for something we all share.

Hank: Mental illness is a spectrum? So like a rainbow? Like a rainbow with no color only grays and blacks?

Me: That is a good way of thinking about it in the extreme. Mental illness is like a rainbow that degrades from blinding, too-bright color to only grays and blacks, but every person’s rainbow is different. My mental illness rainbow is beautiful and dazzling around the edges but in the center of each color there is a bit of a shadow. That shadow is where my pain and grief about my poor health lives. There are days when I am more in the shadow than I am in the beautiful light and vice versa.

Hank: I totally understand. I think my rainbow is solid color but with cracks in it where I get nervous and scared like around new people, crowds and stuff or about going to my new school.

Me: (nodding, sipping my coffee) But those cracks are also important. Cracks are how the light gets into dark spaces.

Hank: (nodding) That man? He speaks to himself and I have seen him hit himself before. His rainbow is gray and black.

Me: Even the darkest mental illness rainbows have bright moments. We can’t see each other’s rainbows, but we can send love and light to darken the gray days.

Hank: Does he want a home, but can’t have one?

Me: I don’t know his story, Hank.  Many people with mental illness chose to live outside because it makes them feel safer and it allows them the freedom they need. As long as a person knows that there is always help and assistant available and they aren’t hurting anyone we should respect they are making their best choices. That man can walk into any health center or the hospital and receive help. He knows that.

Hank: Same with someone who is addicted to drugs.

Me: Correct.

Hank: Are people who use drugs mentally ill, too?

Me: Not necessarily in the same way. Again, mental illness is a spectrum.

Hank: A rainbow we all have on the inside.