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While playing at the park, right after coughing:
While playing backgammon against Sophia:
— Benjamín: I'm sad, because Mami was angry at
me, even though I said "I'm sorry".
Nicolás and Sophia got a pink slip at the school bus for not behaving. Apparently, they fought with each other and got another friend in trouble. Leslie told them to write an apology note that they were supposed to give to the bus driver the following day, as well as another note explaining what is it that they had done bad. Nicolás wrote the following:
It obviously starts OK, and goes downhill from there.
We had nearly finished dinner, which we regularly have at around 6:00
PM. This day, however, we were running a bit late. Nicolás
took a quick look at the clock on the wall, and exclaimed:
Yes, he meant to say that it was a few minutes past seven.
Sophia and Benjamín went to the boys' room, sat down at
Nicolás' desk and started playing, which of course Nicolás
didn't appreciate much because they could move his things around. So,
he came up to us to complain and had a little Freudian slip:
— I'll be sure not to get obsessed with my anger.
You know the way they say that nerds and geeks have a different mindset?
Well, here is a good example. Nicol´s was recommending his siblings
to go to the first floor of the house, where things were obviously much
more conducive to accomplishing whatever it is that he wanted to do:
As you can all imagine, what Nicolás described as an "exchange of information" would simply be a "a talk" to mere mortals.
— Nicolás: Wow! Grandpa's lake is still
— Leslie: Please, kids, grab a piece of fruit because an
apple a day keeps the doctor away.
— Nicolás: Quinn also says that his mother lets him
take a mud bath every week.
Sophia refused to set the table with her brothers, and got angry when Leslie scolded her. She ran upstairs, took a little notebook and wrote a note to her mother titled Just a Note: Dear Mom, I wont too ran a waye.
Sophia had gone to a friend's birthday party, and in the meantime I
went to get a haircut. When the party was over, I picked her up and
we both went to the library to drop some books. On the way there, I
asked her if she had noticed anything different with my hair.
— Benjamín: You know what? Today, when Grandma-grandma
died and we went to her room, Nana was there and she was crying.
— Great-Aunt Paula: So, how is Jesús doing at
— I don't know why when I try to draw a circle on paper I don't really make good circles, but then when I do them on nothing [meaning while drawing on the air] I do them very well.
Benjamín asked how come we can see George Lucas' movies here
at home in Minnesota if he lives in California, which is so far away.
I explained we watch his movies on DVDs, which are made by his company.
Benjamín then asked how come so many different people can watch
George Lucas' movies at the same time, and I explained how companies
burn many different DVDs and send them all over the world. Sophia
—Benjamín: It's not fair! I always have to play
in Nicolás' world, and he never plays in mine.
—Nicolás: You know what? Carlos doesn't believe in
Santa. He told me today that it's his parents who bring him presents.
Sophia absolutely loves to chime in when we are lecturing the
boys, and show us all how responsible and mature she is. Of course,
there are times when she overdoes it, as in this occasion:
While swimming at the pool, Benjamín warned Sophia at the yell
of "emergency, emergency!" that both an ant and a dragonfly were
drowning in the water. Now, it turned out that during the complex
rescue operation Nicolás continued jumping into the pool and
making dangerous waves that threatened to wreck it. Of course, that
had to prompt Sophia's immediate plea:
We all went to the park to meet some friends for a picnic and, while they
arrived, our kids went to play in the slides. After a few minutes,
Sophia came back and sat down with us looking quite angry at her brothers.
We asked her what went wrong:
Since I tease the kids so often by saying the opposite of what I truly
mean, they have sort of learn to tell when I use a slightly different
tone. So, when I recently said something outrageous in a plain,
straightforward tone, they believe it. Once they realized I was just
kidding, I asked them how they could have believed such a fantasy.
Sophia knew the answer, of course:
Nicolás had watched Life Is Beautiful at school, and I was explaining to him the concept of a death camp. At one point, I stressed that while the Jews are perhaps the best known victims of the Nazi brutality, they also mass murdered gypsies, homosexuals, lesbians and leftists, among many others. At that point, Sophia had a comment to make:
—Sophia: That means that a girl I met while I was taking
tennis lessons would have been killed by the Nazis.
Hmmm. I had to quickly explain to her that there is a difference between a "lefty" and a "leftist". Not sure she understood anything though.
Benjamín had been talking about animals getting married, so I decided it was a good time to teach to the kids that marriage is an inherently human institution that cannot be understood without the idea of law, which is eminently social. So, as soon as Benjamín made the comment, I explained that animals don't get married and asked if they had an idea why. Sophia quickly volunteered an answer:
— Because they don't have lips to kiss?
Sophia sees me about to use some mouthwash in the bathroom:
— What's that? No, wait! Is that like deodorant for the mouth?
I'm not sure how the conversation got started, but the case is that we
were in the car driving up to somewhere and Nicolás asked about
Leslie is spending a couple of months with the kids in Minnesota. They
drive to Cub Foods to do some grocery shopping. Leslie parks the car,
and the dialogue goes something like this:
Leslie turns the car back on to put the windows down a few inches, so
Sophia can breath. They all get out of the car and, after a few seconds,
notice that Sophia gets out too.
— Benjamín: I'm so angry with Papi, I wish he were a
— Mami, I don't understand when people speak Spanish. Like, when they say things en español. See? I said en español, and I didn't understand what I said.
I was explaining the difference between príncipe and
infante in the Spanish royal family:
During one of those sudden attacks of silliness that happen so
frequently to kids:
While visiting the doctor for a regular checkup:
Leslie was trying to get Benjamín to understand why we have
rules in society and why they are needed in the first place:
On a particularly bad day when all three kids were misbehaving and
being silly, we told Benjamín to go pick up a few books he had
left on the floor next to the closet. He continued doing silly things
and never picked up the books.
— Benjamín: I've seen a Bible man on the other side
of the block.
This was the first day I took the kids to play tennis this Spring. We
arrived to the place, I parked the van, Benjamín opened the door,
and yelled really loud while bursting out of the van:
— We are freeeeee!
I'm not sure what the passersby thought.
The kids are getting ready to go outside on a beautiful Spring day.
Lately, they have been taking their light sabers out there and playing
Star Wars and, instead of taking on his usual role of the bad
guy, it turned out that Benjamín had been playing the good
role lately. Apparently, though, he couldn't take it any longer:
— Nicolás? Can I go on the dark side with you today? Because I'm tired of fighting.
What would Yoda have to say?
After a very busy day doing lots of homework, Benjamín felt the
need to express how hard a kid's life is:
— Work, work, work. Even before I started going to school I had to do a lot of work. I wasn't even in pre-school, when I had to go to the mami class (i.e., ECFE, Early Childhood and Family Education) and do homework. Then, I went to pre-school and had to do homework, and now that I'm going to first grade I have to work even more. Then, when I become an adult, I'll have lots of stuff to do. I will only be able to finally rest in peace when I die!
Apparently, Sophia got angry and threatened to leave home. She just told the kids about it though, so Benjamín felt the need to share it with us. He wrote a note and gave it to Leslie:
Mom Sophia iz levin.
After a while, he wrote another note for Leslie:
but she is coming back win it is cold and at secret times.
Obviously, she had given it some thought and had reconsidered.
While looking at his own testicles:
— Mom, when boys grow up, do they get more balls? Like, instead of two balls, do they get three or four?
In the past few months, we had to teach the kids how to distinguish when we are using irony from those other moments when what we say should be interpreted in a more straitghtforward manner. We have already told them several times that one of the most basic forms of irony is to say something when, in reality, one means the opposite. So, discussing the topic, I explained how, in general, dogmatic people tend to dislike irony, since they prefer to always take everything seriously and describe it in black and white type of terms. Of course, I had to ask the kids if they knew the meaning of "dogmatic" was, and Benjamín quickly volunteered a very original definition:
— Someone who likes dogs a lot?
— Dad, why do people say that they caught you right-handed if I could be left-handed?
Benjamín had a growing pain in a couple of spots, so Leslie gave
him a pain killer. When he noticed she had given him a single pill, he
— Just one? But I have two growing pains!
I suppose we'll have to teach him about the dangers of over-medication.
During a family trip to Gibraltar, we had originally thought to stay at a bed & breakfast (we later changed our mind).
Benjamin, who had never heard of the concept, had the wrong idea of what
a bed & breakfast might be:
— Wow! Does that mean that they will bring us breakfast to bed?
Right before going into school on a day when he had to take a test:
— Hope me luck!
During a conversation between Leslie and I about the habit of smoking,
Benjamin came up with an interesting question:
— Benjamín: Mom, is it possible for people to get
While playing with the cats, right after one of them did something
— Haha! The darn cats do those things!
He obviously meant to use the known idiom (cats do the darndest things, but something went wrong.
Benjamín had been grounded without playing at the computer but, as he tends to do, continued begging us to change our minds and —much worse— sending his brother and sister to do the dirty work for him:
— Sophia: Benjamín wants me to ask you if he is
allowed to play at the computer.
During a boat ride to watch whales and dolphins at the Strait of Gibraltar things were getting a bit tough and the boat was rocking quite a bit. That didn't seem to bother Benjamin though:
— Haha! My penis tickles on the down stroke!
Errrr... OK. Let's just leave it at that.