After a couple of weeks off, I am back to the blogging business. Hope you guys are doing well, and in case you are not, I hope to bring a little bit of happiness to your day. Today I will go back in time. This post is not about something specific we do or say as Boricuas, but are some stories and stuff my parents used to tell us.
Since I became a father in 2005 my life got better. My life was pretty good before that, and it improved giving me a new way to look at things. I started understanding my parents and their decisions better, and started looking at the world from a different point of view. As my son started growing, I discovered that many things my parents told me when I was a kid, I told to my kid. Now I have two kids, one is almost eight and the other is already two, which means that when the oldest is 17 the baby will be 12 and the fun will really start.
When I was 15, my oldest brother was 16 and my baby sister was 12. Now that I am a father I appreciate that my mom did not spank us the way she should have. What I mean is that we were a handful; waking us up every morning to go to school, making breakfast while we refused to get our butts off bed, making sure we ate the breakfast before leaving to school and all the fights my mother had with my sister when it was time to comb her hair. And all of that before 7:30 in the morning! Where was my father? Workings since six in the morning, so if the mornings were hectic, imagine the afternoons.
When we used to go out on Sundays, sometimes we, the children, did not know where my day was driving us to. “Where are we going to Dad?”, and my dad, always so clever with his answers (something I got from him) used to say: “Pa Puerto Rico” or “Pa donde nos lleve la nariz” and “Pa viejo”. After we kept asking and he ran out of patience we heard them say, “NENE, PA LA PLAYA. DEJA DE PREGUNTAR!” and we knew the topic was over. Or let’s say we were going to someone’s birthday party of family reunion, dad always asked mom: “Les leiste la cartilla?”. “Leer la cartilla” was like telling us the rules of what we were able to do and how to behave. “We are going to Pepe’s house. I don’t want you asking for ANYTHING. If you are offered food or candy, and you want some, you say YES PLEASE and take only ONE. I don’t want you fighting with one another because I will get mad and you will sit next to me. Do I make myself clear?” Of course we understood every single rule we had to follow, but we forgot about it. We were reminded when one of the rules was broken, usually when we started fighting. Mom used to walk to us, ever so gracefully, with her eyes open to a point that you though was not possible, grabbed the trouble maker by the arm and pressing without pulling, and crunching her teeth and without opening her mouth she said: “¿Que fue lo que te dije en casa? ¿Te dije que no jugaras de mano, verdad? Ahora vienes al ladito mío y no te quedas ahí callado y no dices ni ji! (What did I tell you at home? I told you not to fight, right? Now you will sit next to me, really quiet!)
In some other moments, mom was busy doing stuff in the house and she needed us to get something for her. “Frankie, can you go and get me the scissors in my top drawer?” I walked over there, open the drawer, looked all over the drawer and could not find the scissors. “I can’t find them Mom!”, screaming from the room. “Look in the drawer, boy!” “I. CAN’T. FIND. THEM”. My mom stopped doing what she was doing, screamed “Si las encuentro te doy con ellas (If I find them, I will hit you with them)”, walked to the room, opened the drawer and the damn scissors were there. Guess what, she’d hit me with them! And nine out of 10 times, we were not able to find the stuff she sent us to get, my dad included. To this day I swear she had the stuff in her hand all along and she pretended to find it, it is the only explanation I got.
As teenagers, since at that age kids think they know everything, there was a lot of arguing with my parents. Usually (I don’t want to use every time) my parents were right and sent us to our room. At that point when we were full of rage because our parents never understood us, after we walked to the room, we slammed the door really hard. That door slamming thing only happened three times in my house: one by each one of the children. Not two seconds after we did what we found to be one of the worst mistakes any human being can do, my mom rushed in to the room. “Que es lo que te pasa a ti que estás tirando puertas? Esta es la primera y la última vez que tiras puertas en esta casa. Mientras vivas en esta casa, vas a seguir mis reglas. Y si no te gusta, recoge las cosas y te vas pa la calle!!! (What is wrong with you that you are slamming doors? This is the first and last time that you slam a door in this house. As long as you live under my roof, you will follow my rules. And if you don’t like it, get your stuff and live in the street.)” Since we were “smart” we answered to that last one “I am leaving then”. “Pues te vas con lo que tienes puesto porque todo lo que hay en esta casa es mio!!! (You leave with the clothes you are wearing since everything in this house is mine)”. End of discussion, once again we lost! The only thing that would keep us calm was knowing that anther one of us will be stupid enough to do the same in the near future and all the attention would be somewhere else. Here are some other expressions my parents used at home:
Did you ask your father/mother? – when we wanted to do something or go somewhere and my parents did not want to give us a yes for an answer. If one of them said YES, the other one would go “What? Are you sure that is what you want to do? (Usually my mother)” We knew there was not much to do after that.
- I told you so. Didn’t I tell you? – The one I hated the most, and still do. I always wanted to answer “YES. YOU TOLD ME SO.” But I was not stupid enough to say that, and that’s why I still have my teeth!
- No corras, porque cuando te coja va a ser peor! (Don’t run because when I get you it’s going to be worse!) – I personally don’t remember doing this. But I know of friends who did run, and it was really worse.
- Te estás ganando la de mozo! – This means something like “You are really making me beat you”, but usually for kids over 12, when kids get to their teen ages. Mozo, for us, is like a grown kid or teenager.
- Ven acá para pararte (Come here to help you get up). When I fell and started crying, my father many times would tell me that. I got to a point when I fell, stood up, and continue walking and saying “Ya me paré, gracias! (I’m already up, thanks!)The funny thing is that I make some of those comments to my sons, and I know that I will use many more as they grow up. “Hijo fuiste, padre serás. Así como lo hiciste, así lo harán. (You were a son, and you will be a parent. The same way you did, it will be done to you.)” is what my father says, with a smile on his face anytime my son does something that I used to do and that was not funny to him at the time. But I know I will be able to make good and caring out of my kids, the same way my parents did with us. And when I have grandchildren, just as my father, I will be there to make fun of my kids! Until next time, cójanlo suave!