Wednesday, July 21, 2010


How can we encourage impoverished families to devote money more to educating kids and less to alcohol, tobacco and prostitution?

The patterns of self-discipline, respectful cooperation, and delayed gratification, within close-knit and healthy families are the real goal. Teaching by example, so that the children see the joy and love in their parents' willingness to forego a momentary pleasure in order to see them grow stronger and more able to be productive and successful in life is paramount. Domestic violence, emotional abuse and addiction teach the next generation to be violent, abusive and addicted. In each way that we help break the cycle, reduce the violence, advocate for family life and safety for communities, we make the future better. We can inspire hope, and we can offer incentives. I liked the posting which recommended sending financial planners in the Peace Corps. I also liked the posting about the overseas workers' domestic help's way of spending the money they make to better their families' lives. I recently was upset by my son speaking about some of the UN workers raping kids in Africa. You Tube makes all this material up close and personal; --butchery, madness, gang violence, lawlessness. We need to keep inspiring hope for progress. Archbishop Tutu's wonderful modeling of forgiveness is important. Alcoholics Anonymous is really important too. Without a hierarchy to support, it is a free organization for all who need it to help them recover from addiction. It is possible to become sober, and to find joy again. Each person needs to do this for himself, without coersion. Women can be better financial planners for the family, but ultimately, for families to be strong and resilient, the men need to become healthy and un-numb, and non-violent, and become better partners. The best incentive is "the pursuit of happiness"-- which indeed should include healthiness and self-respect.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Teodoro Luna

This story came to me at the writing retreat. The title, which is the name of my grandson-to-be, came from a poem by Alberto Rios. I thank him for the name. In English, it is "Theodore Moon", but in Spanish, which is the right way to say it, it is "Teodoro Luna"


I will have a grandson named Teodoro Luna. He has been in my heart from the beginning, but has come here by a circuitous route; though blood, sweat and tears are only a part of the story. People expected him to be a gringo, but I know his geneology and he belongs to California, to the fields in high summer, the golden hills of home; and he belongs to the silvery moon floating in the balmy sky.
I, his grandmother, know that what he wants from me are ways to make him laugh and wonder, and also to cook him something good for dinner. He will call me Nana, but also he will tease me and call me by my name, which he has heard his grandfather call me in exasperation; but always, he will say it, my little Teodoro, with kindness and the sound of little bells in his heart. He will sometimes remind me of memories I thought I had forgotten, and he will hold the pen in his hand, as we start to tell each other stories. Usually, he will ask me to sing.
We will sing little songs in our pajamas, and he will know the words by heart by the time he can speak in sentences.
In the back yard, he will learn the names of flowers. I know that he will like trees more than I do, but he will learn the names of flowers just to please me-- and he will remember which ones need a lot of water-- like hydrangeas and cinerarias. He will also know which ones the deer don't like to eat-- like yellow daisies and lavender. He will know this is a useful like of flower.
Do you think he will be more fond of cats or dogs, I ask myself? I think he will be a boy who loves his dog; and he will love running on the beach with his dog. Somehow he will always understand what the dog is thinking; and the dog will stand quietly waiting for him to be ready to go on their next adventure. Only people will make him impatient.
I think Teodoro will want to eat hot tortillas straight from the comal. He will like things that taste like butter; and I will sigh and say "You inherited that set of tastebuds from me". He will swim like a fish, and I will never worry about him being in water. I think it will take some doing to convince his mother not to worry about this.
The thing about grandchildren is that they are magical. You don't have to be their mother, to make schedules and rules for school and chores, and when to watch tv or read a book. You are allowed the luxury of imagination and play, and having a good time. The time can be quite elastic-- whole Saturday afternoons, even whole weekends during vacations.
Teodoro and I will drink hot chocolate in winter and homemade lemonade in summer. We will go pick fruit for making cobblers. We will take naps on the porch, and tell each other about our dreams.