Flaco asked me over and over for a fideo crudo the other day. I thought he wanted to eat it, so I kept sending him away and telling him to wait until the noodles were cooked. He has odd requests, let me tell you, so I didn't think much of it. Raw onion and soup for breakfast? Oh sure. But his insistence on this one was a little surprising. I finally gave him a dry noodle and sent him on his way, when I was met by a resounding silence - a sure sign of mischief. So I left the kitchen and went looking for him, and there he was, standing on his tiptoes, using the noodle like a bobby pin, trying to jig open a locked door. He looked over his shoulder at me and curled his lips up over his teeth, trying to hide a smile, and asked (with what almost seemed like sincerity) "No te gustan mis travesuras, mamita?" Claro que me gustan, mijo, me encantan! I said, caught up in a moment of blind love and stupidity. . The shoe full of hot cocoa the next day should have come as no surprise.
Every meal I make has a name. I'm not the one who does this, either. It's like making a nickname for yourself -- at best it doesn't stick, at worst you are openly mocked. No no, a nickname must be given to you. Similarly, I cannot name my dinners I serve. If I did, believe me you, this meal would not have been named "Leftovers from Guantanamo Bay." It would have been named something nice like "Tuesday's 'I Tried So Hard But It Didn't Quite Come Out What a Crazy Fluke I'm Normally Such An Awesome Cook' Special." Matthew felt that if he looked like an alien it might help him swallow. . It didn't.
Chochos is the word for people who would drive three hours each way to spend one afternoon with their grandbabies (for a better understanding of the word, please view Beeba's face as she holds Flaco, or Abuelo's expression as he gives Loli her bottle.) Engreída is the word for a daughter-in-law* who sits idly by while her in-laws do her dishes. And make her supper. And somehow still find a way to compliment her homemaking skills! . Niko niko is a word lacking in both English and Spanish, so I'll borrow a bit from Japanese. It's the sound of a smile, which is the sound one hears every time I think of the family I somehow managed to inherit. . *Full disclosure: I am said daughter-in-law. Bet you didn't see that one coming. I admit this to my shame but to their credit. And while I'm at it, I might as well also add that they also bring me stacks of Time, bring me pineapples, bring me doughnuts that they've carefully coated in pink frosting and coconut, and perhaps most importantly come with all sorts of banter that makes their visits much too few and far between.
You're probably thinking I already saw this picture! But nope, you just saw another one almost exactly like it. So maybe it's redundant, but I think it's worth seeing that this wide-eyed wide-opened smile is what Loli looks like. That's just her. And I thank God for my girl; three months old today, but I've known her for almost a year. Ever since she was a tiny baby the size of a lentil, she has made my heart sing.