Tag Archives: #pride

Fresh Hell : The Pre-Teen Years

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freshhellI’m not even a full month into this hellish, hormonal, angst part of parenting. My sweet, precious baby lamb only just turned 12 last month, and almost as if a light switch magically turned on (or off) I was thrust into no mans land overnight. I had heard stories from friends with daughters that it was hard, I understood and could relate to that I was an emotional 12-year-old once and I’m sure I was a thorn in my mother’s side. Honestly, having a boy i didn’t think it would be so bad, plus he’s always been a fairly easy, obedient child so I figured it may be a few outbursts here and there, nothing too crazy. I mentally prepared (or so i thought) I’ve been doing my stretches and workouts in case he gets a bout of “testosterone” and tries to one up me i can remind him that even at 5’4 I’m still Mama.   But no one can really prepare you for this. This piping hot steamy pile of shit that just gets handed to you one day and you have to figure out how to navigate it with your own pile of hormones as you approach 40. Life’s cruel this way. Life’s a sordid, twisted little bugger.

danger  Already, in the 28 days of 12 (yes, I’ve counted) he has developed and practically mastered the art of eye rolling, the smacking of the lips, the smart ass tone, the whatever attitude. It’s as if he went to the science lab in school and accidentally got into the toxic goo and instead of developing super human powers I got Super Melodramatic Angst Man-Boy. I though I was the queen of sarcasm and acerbic wit but i have to bow down to the development speed here. Either the student has been studying the Master or were dealing with a whole new level of fresh hell here folks!

And y’all, between us this is totally above my pay grade! I’m not trained in this. Do you know that this past weekend we went on a Halloween Tour and I was so excited to have a great time and before we had even gotten there he had brought out, Cranky, Sullen, Sleepy, Hungry and Indifferent. That was just on the 30 minute ride. When we got there he hung out with Tired, Whatever, Kinda Stupid. When the tour started he invoked the spirits of I Don’t Get It, Why are We Here?, Kinda Cool, This Is Fun and Can We Go Home Yet? By the time we took all the pictures he noticed a raunchy Donald Trump sticker and then it was Gross Joke time and Silliness for 15 solid minutes. Then when we got home he snuggled up on the couch and we watched scary movies and he decided to let Sweetness and Tenderness hang out for the rest of the evening. It was a maniacal roller coaster and the bad thing guys…is when I bring it up to him I get the universal blank stare, your crazy mom look.

help-himMy sweet, talented gifted boy is currently sitting across from me as I type this. I just received an email from his teacher that he is not participating in class or turning in his work. Guys he’s a straight A student for the most part but this last report card he brought home some B’s. His response, I can pass the tests, the homework is dumb. Uh…..dude unless your ass got invited to join MENSA and forgot to tell me, i suggest you get with the program. Now he’s doing his homework that his teacher so graciously has allowed him to make up, which i told him was the only time i would allow it as a first offense. The next time he will suffer the consequences of a zero or an F. I refuse to celebrate mediocrity. He is banned from TV, video games and the phone. A punishment I’m sure will hurt me in the long run. And so what is he doing to show his disapproval of my discipline? Sniffing his nose loudly, breathing with a heavy sigh, writing hard and crumbling papers….

Help him Tom Cruse, help him Oprah, may he gather protection from his Abuelitas prayers. I also need help at this point I’m invoking all the power of Castle Greyskull, all the Care Bear stares and a Sam’s Club size pitcher of pre mixed Margarita mix to get me through these pre teen years. I also will start to forage and hoard the tears of a thousand angels for strength to guide me through what is yet to come…..Teenager. da da duummm. Solidarity y’all. So much effing solidarity!

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My Big Fat Puerto Rican Life

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My son when he was little- we instill pride early on

Growing up in our family and much like many other families was something that needed to be experienced not simply described. Describing it would make you think that we were seriously over exaggerating our very colorful, loving up bringing. That there was no way in the world that we actually had a mother who would show up to school in Madonna-esque bustiers that she made herself, or spiky spray colored hair. That she had six ear piercings and would wait for me at the bus stop to fill me in on the latest scandalous MTV music video. That we never really ate out because she cooked us amazing food every night and to this day- my father and I practically refuse to eat anyone’s chicken and rice or arroz con gandules and habichuelas – because if it my mother didn’t make it why waste your time. Explaining that growing up my mother didn’t speak English so she would try to learn from us when we got home from school or that she had the best catch phrases from The Price is Right, Police Academy movies and Coming to America. That when she said “beach” it sounded like “bitch”- we always got a good laugh at that. And now 32 years later she has learned to speak perfectly – yet its somehow a mystery that her accent gets thicker by the day.

 

We often spoke by yelling – not that we were mad – that’s just how we talked. A fact that upset my very American born son who for the first years of his life thought we were just mad when in fact it was the opposite. Ive explained to him that we talk super loud as to make sure you understood that you were loved lol. He now at 11 has no volume whatsoever.

My father like many Puerto Rican men is simple and quiet – and that’s not because he wants to be but he really cant get a word in edgewise in a room full of 3 Puerto Rican women. My brother has also gone mute. He proudly and faithfully served the United States Air Force for 26+ years and is the reason we all have amazing, productive lives and a million friends, we are open minded, kind, loving, resilient, peaceful and trustworthy an example he taught us from early on. On top of growing up Puerto Rican we were also Military BRATS. Which is a different experience altogether, we were used to moving with short notice, we knew how to make friends fast and easily leave. We adapted to our surroundings fairly quickly and did our part to hold onto the honor that was my fathers life. Supporting him meant supporting our country. So you can say we had pride and passion running through our veins from our roots to our nation. We love hard, fight hard and dream big. We honored the red, white and blue of both our flags and wore them both with great pride.

Wherver we moved we took our traditions with us. The flag and several flag emblazoned items were prominently displayed in the house. There was no secret where we came from and if you forgot we would remind you. My mother taught me the history of Puerto Rico and even bought me my own set of Puerto Rican Encyclopedias. I was taught and can still sing the national anthem of the island “Oh tierra de Borinquen, donde nacido yoooooooo”

Our friends were always welcome. A warm hug and kiss  from both my parents are what greet you when you enter our home. We adopted EVERYBODY. No one has ever been turned away and a belly has never left our home hungry. You were also yelled at and disciplined because once you set foot into our house, you became one of us. My parents didn’t see a difference between birthed and non birthed children. Everyone was their child. I remember my father coming home from deployment and the doorbell ringing and the neighborhood kids asking if Big Dennis could come out to play. Myself, my brother Tito and my sister Nana would yell out “Dad! its for you” and he would go outside and play with all the kids. By the way this wasn’t creepy, we lived on a military base so oftentimes everyone’s dad were gone on deployments so we just took care of our own. It was understood living on base that you were taken care of by the entire community. Sometimes kids didn’t have either parent at home and its hard. My dad grew up an Army BRAT so he understood and he stepped up to the plate and played neighborhood dad with everyone. My mom would let them spend the night or let the mothers know that their kids had eaten or whatever was needed. We had that house. All were welcome, none where turned away.

Now having this type of family also meant we partied hard and food was a barter. My mom would cook her famous chicken and rice,pack it up in Tupperware and my best friends mom would trade her collard greens and corn bread. Its still like this 20 years later.

Again this is pretty hard to explain and sometimes downright unbelievable. So when the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was released we died laughing at the similarities. It was our family on screen but in Greek! It literally went by the book in our life so much so that the scene where Gus introduces his family as “Nick, Nick, Nicky, Maria, Maria” is where my family goes “Dennis, Denise, Dennis, Jenny and Jennifer” No lie, hand to God! The movie perfectly shows how we are so much so that i own a copy and I show everyone who has not seen it as preparation for my family.

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My mother once told an ex who didn’t eat pork that she would make him a ham sandwich. Her response? Its not pork its haaaaaam.

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My mother like Gus swears on certain products. In her case its Vics Vapo Rub. But you cant go outside once its on your body or you’ll DIE! Whaaaat?!

 

We recently had our very own first wedding in our immediate family. My brother Tito (real name Dennis) was married last week. I wanted to share pictures of the REHEARSAL DINNER – I wont post photos of the wedding as my brother and sister in law paid for really great pictures and that would be in poor taste for me to put those up without permission. However feast your eyes on this 🙂

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The rehearsal cake in shape of our flag                    (tasted amazing)

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Our sweet mother went to great lengths to show our pride to my lovely sister in laws family and their friends.

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And in case anyone wanted to brush up on history or facts there was a little table set up to peruse ❤

She had requested beforehand that people dress in traditional Puerto Rican dress and I have to say that everyone was a great sport about it. It really turned out nice. Much like Toula in MBFGW i snickered at the thought but had to eat my words with a side of arroz con pollo as it really did turn out very nice.

 

 

I really am fortunate to have them as my family. And much like Toula realizes in the movie, that there just is no better way than growing up Greek, i will say that I have been blessed to grow up Puerto Rican. To know my family is to love them, embrace them and know that instantly you become one of us. Cheers to the ones that started it all. This is my love letter to you. ❤