HANK: Age 10 and The End of Laziness (Except on the Weekends, Because That is What Weekends Are For)

conversations with hank


Me: Good morning, Hank.

Hank: Morning.

Me: How did you sleep?

Hank: (stretching like a cat) So well I didn’t want to get out of bed.

Me: That is the best and worst kind of sleep.

Hank: Isn’t it?

Me: Are you ready for your day?

Hank: No. I mean, I have my backpack packed and I’m dressed, but I’m not ready, you know?

Me: I hear you. Life is hard.

Hank: Yes!

Me: No, I mean it. I was up late into the night trying to remember if I ever properly explained to you that life is hard.

Hank: I know.

Me: But do you? Nothing in life ever came easily to me. I do not remember ever being just naturally good at something, ever. Everything took work. Even now, especially now.


Me: I spent most of my young life confused, because reading and writing were so hard for me and for other kids it seemed they could just do it, and math, too. It was never easy for me to make friends. I had a few good friends, but over all the majority of kids in my class and at my schools had a rather low opinion of me and liked to tell me my flaws as if it wasn’t obvious I wasn’t aware of them myself. It took a rather long time from my personality to progress from obnoxious to funny and I was awkwardly experimental in finding my style and finding myself beautiful. Being a mom was the hardest thing I have ever done and I am still learning from my mistakes, even ten years later, to be your and Molly’s best mother. I’ve had to work harder than anyone I know to achieve any goal to my minimal satisfaction since first grade and that, at times, has made me feel extremely alone, but I never gave up and I never surrendered.


Me: I know you are bummed about your low grade on your Portuguese test, but I promise you: your teachers, your papa and I, we are here and we support you. If you trust us we will help you and encourage you to do better. If your doing your best, your best is enough and that includes learning that what you thought was your best could be improved.

Hank: That hurts my feelings. I thought I did my best, but I didn’t.

Me: I know it does. Life isn’t easy, but it is always worth it. To achieve your school goals you will have to work harder especially when it isn’t easy and especially when your feelings are hurt, but if you put in the work now hard work won’t intimidate you further down the road.


Me: No one says this to kids. Adults lecture and advise and hug, but they rarely explain. It will take time, it will feel like forever and it will be work, but if you have a goal and you achieve it then the pride you feel will be worth the effort. Plus, that is why there are chocolates and bike rides and video games in the world. You can’t deny yourself the good; the good makes the work worth it.

Hank: When I sit down to take a test I just want it to be over. I am so worried that I won’t finish that I rush and papa told me that is where I make mistakes. I just wish there were no clocks and we had our own time.

Me: I am listening, You have precious little of your own time in life. You have your school time, then your homework time, then your responsibility time such as cleaning and hygiene, then you have family time which is great, but can be stressful and only after do you have the illusive, me time. We will talk with your teacher and find a better way to help you manage the stress of the time clock. If you are your enemy then you have the power to win the fight.

Hank: (deep sigh)

Me: It is not easy to be ten.

Hank: It really isn’t.

Me: Ten is where you’re given responsibilities and begin to taste #adulting.

Hank: I hate it, I don’t want to grow up, but I also want my own apartment someday and I want to go to cafés and drink coffee and meet friends and have dinner parties and decorate and get my drivers license and got to university for something and I want to be good at stuff.

Me: You don’t have to grow-up to do those things! You don’t have to lose who you are now or give something away for those things. You just have to commit to work for them. You can work hard toward those goals wearing a Totoro onesie while doing your homework with a bright green gel pen while deep conditioning your hair and singing Eurovision songs at the top of your lungs.

Hank: Mom, be serious!

Me: I AM! You got a poor grade on your Portuguese test because you made lazy mistakes, you didn’t read directions, you rushed and you were careless with your spelling. You didn’t fail, but you almost did. I think the title of this chapter of your memoir is called, HANK: Age 10 and The End of Laziness… Except on the Weekends Because That is What Weekends Are For.

Hank: (giggling)

Me: So thank you for letting me talk to you about this. I just wanted you to understand that everything you love about your life our family and our home and everything I love about my life and our family is the result of years of dedication and hard work. Nothing came easy, but I am rich with love and happiness and friends and knowledge and success and no one gave me these things, but me. I hold the power to achieve my goals and so do you! I invested in myself when it would have been far easier to never even try. Now it is your turn to invest in your self and your goals.

Hank: Yah.

Me: Is this a helpful conversation or does this truth just stress you out?

Hank: (thinking) Helpful. (pause) Did things come easy for papa?

Me: That is his story to tell and you will have to ask him, but I believe everyone has a struggle, especially at ten years old, otherwise how would anyone appreciate the good things in life like sunsets and birthdays and lazy café afternoons and making their baby sister laugh or climbing on rocks at the seaside looking for tide pools.

Hank: That last one is my favorite.

Me: I know.

Hank: I miss my bed.

Me: Me, too.

Hank: I have to get going.

Me: I know, it’s time.

Hank: (deep, exhausted sigh)

Me: I am always here for you. You are not alone.

Hank: I know.


Changing MY Behavior

Hank had to take a few days off his #30DayPhotoChallenge because he just kept missing the prompt for Day 9, Pôr do Sol (sunset), but I think this image was well worth the wait. Check out all of Hank's photos here.

Hank had to take a few days off his #30DayPhotoChallenge because he just kept missing the prompt for Day 9, Pôr do Sol (sunset), but I think this image was well worth the wait. Check out all of Hank’s photos for the Challenge here.


(sipping our morning coffees: his decaf, mine regular)

Hank: I miss my bed already.

Me: Me, too.

Hank: Why is waking up so hard?

Me: When waking up is hard it is either a sign of unrest or of wonderful dreams you don’t want to leave behind.

Hank: I think I need a sleep mask?

Me: Like Holly Golightly?

Hank: Who is she?

Me: She’s fictional.

Hank: I didn’t get to sleep until past 11.

Me: Wowza!

Hank: It was a combination of my thoughts and Molly’s rocklight (papa invented nightlight).

Me: Hence the need for a sleep mask? I think that can be arranged.

Hank: Thanks, I’d like to try it.

Me: (sigh) What an intense weekend.

Hank: Yah.

Me: We oscillated between restie-pajama-fantastic to kinda screaming at each other far too much.

Hank: Yah.

Me: Your papa and I had a long talk about it on our date over HUG mugs of frosty beers I was almost too arthritic to lift and a big plate of French fries overlooking Porto from Gia at sunset. Quite a majestic view for a shitty conversation, I must admit.

Hank: Yah.

Me: And He helped me come to the conclusion that while you are going through this period of big feelings that I need to stop competing with you.

Hank: What do you mean?

Me: Well, remember when I said when you became a teenager I was going to stop talking and start listening?

Hank: Yah.

Me: Well, your papa hypothesizes that you maybe experiencing the symptoms of teenager early.

Hank: Oh no.

Me: Most probably temporary, seeing as you are only ten.

Hank: I hate growing up. I don’t want to do it and want to do it all at the same time.

Me: Truth. So, I am going to stop winning every argument at great emotional cost to us both, because our disagreements are less and less about what we are actually fighting about and more and more about the toxic soup-sludge of hormones bubbling over inside your body and growing pains, both emotional and physical.

Hank: (harrumphing into his decaf)

Me: Take last night for instance. Flashback to dinnertime: You are on the sofa absorbed in YouTubiverse and I asked you to get the talheres (silverware) for dinner.

Hank: (nodding)

Me: I asked you calmly, but you acted like a bee had just stung your pinkie finger and frantically raised your voice, oozed off the couch and on to the floor in a almost boneless gymnastics maneuver that would have gotten you an 8/10 from the Russian judge then proceeded to yell at me to not yell at you.

Hank: And you weren’t yelling.

Me: And I proved that to you only by changing my behavior. As of Friday if you had spoken to me in that tone I would have screamed, “I’m NOT Yelling!” and eviscerated you for doing exactly what I was doing while tell you not to do it, believing that only by flexing my mother-heavy-weight-championship pro-wrestler voice around would I have control over your outburst and therefore still be the Chef de Família (head of the family).

Hank: But you are! You will always be the Chef de Família (head of the family)!

Me: Oh, but heavy is the head that wears the crown, my boy! Anyway, your papa and I talked…

Hank: On your date, over beers and a great view, over me! (shaking his head, ashamed)

Me: Newsflash! Kids are the parents’ favorite subjects. It starts with spit-up and bowel movements in infancy and only gains speed from there.

Hank: Better than talking about bills, I guess.

Me: HA! You get it, buddy, but we talked about those as well and current events and our creative projects, then saw Blade Runner 2049, which was EPIC, if you’ve read the original book or love the first film…

Hank: Which you do.

Me: Which I do… So, don’t you feel sorry for us, my friend, it was a great date. ANYWAY, we talked and listened to each other’s ideas and I applied a new method of dealing with the toxic-soup-sludge of hormones boiling inside you and it worked out better for both of us, but the hard part for me is trusting that you will always know your place and respect me. I have to trust that you will return to being respectful after a sass-tactic outburst and make a better choice once the hormones settle down and you remember you are loved and honored and an important member of this family. We’ve gotta do this growing up thing together or we’ll grow apart! We can’t let it divide us.

Hank: (eyes fixed on his now empty coffee cup) I never don’t want to be apart of this family.

Me: That is good to hear, because we would never recover if we lost you. You are vital and important.

Hank: So are you! You make the pancakes and papa makes the paper boats!

Me: FROM MEMORY! How does he do that?

Hank: Yah, and you never know when you’re going to need a paper boat until you need one right now!

Me: Exactly.

Hank: Or pancakes.

Me: True Story.

Hank: And Molly makes us laugh.

Me: She does, indeed.

Hank: And… (pause)

Me: And you ask all the important questions. Without you, your papa, Molly and I wouldn’t look at the world through your keen observations and important, intense questions. We would miss the fine details of life that only you see. I couldn’t imagine not living with the daily challenge of helping you solve the riddles that only you’re clever mind could come up with.

Hank: I ask the questions…

Me: The tough questions.

Hank: And you answer them.

Me: We answer them, together.

Hank: I like that.


Molly’s first story


How Molly Sleeps Every Single Night

How Molly Sleeps Every Single Night


Molly: Que tas a fazer, mãe? Mãe? Oh, mãããe? (What are you doing, mom? Mom? Oh, mooooom?)

Me: (in my office working physically, but mentally in the 16th century) Filha (daughter), hurray!! Hello, lovie little one.

Molly: Whaaaa you doing. mommy?

Me: I’m working.

Molly: Working?

Me: I’m writing a story.

Molly: Me, too? Me too, please?

Me: You’d like to write a story, MaGoo?

Molly: Yes. Sit in mama’s chair. Write story, too. Please?

Me: Alright, one second. (saving my work, closing my files, opening a new word document)

Molly: (dancing in anticipation)

Me: (vacating my desk chair)

Molly: (immediately pulling herself up into it) Spin me, mama! Spin me, please.

Me: One good twirl to get the creative juices flowing. (spinning her cautiously)

Molly: Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Okay, all done. I working now.

Me: A vontade (make yourself comfortable).


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(shreeeeeeks and giggles of delight)



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Me: What does this say?

Molly: Say a story.

Me: Oh, lovely. Will you read to me your story?

Molly: (pointer finger on the screen, reading aloud) Once upon time um.. Pete the Cat ah… ShOOOoooes. Charlie and Lola funny, soooooo funny. Molly and mama. Mano. The END!

Me: That was a great story!

Molly: Not done, mama. Not done! (furiously typing)