Monday, June 11, 2012
For G's one month birthday, we picnicked in the local park and his little feet touched earth for the first time. Are we city folks or what? I couldn't even remember the last time I'd sat down on grass...
I've come up with a solution to my constant angst about how to attend to the barrage of requests by people begging. I don't give money, and it's not easy to keep food in your overstuffed handbag without it getting squashed or stale before you find someone to give it to. It seems whenever I'm prepared to give, there's never anyone on the streets. But when I'm pressed for time and forgot the crackers and cheese on the counter...that's when everyone wants something! Who knew having a kid would simplify things? Now that I rarely leave the house without wheels (awesome stroller!), I can lug along extras, like little gift bags with toiletries or some giveaway clothes. We made some couple's day with the toiletry kit from the maternity hospital a few weeks back...but I did feel bad about one thing: is it unethical to give to the homeless what you wouldn't use yourself? (The second ingredient in the toothpaste the hospital gave us was formaldehyde. FORMALDEHYDE. Seriously?) But I don't want to not-give, either. Sometimes the little things make such a big difference; I remember how thrilled the ladies on the street would be when we brought Christmas gift bags with makeup or nail polish, totally frivolous items, you'd think, for a hard life on the cobblestones. But they would LIGHT UP.
A few weeks after the picnic, G was presented at my old church...and while it was simple and lovely, the best part was hearing "anyone who feels they are Jenna and Vance's family can come on up to stand with them," and seeing my good friend and her mother practically leap onto the stage, hold hands with my husband and proudly stand up as my kin. Some people who must have joined the church after I'd left were mystified, given the obvious color differences in our skin, and asked my Brazilian "mum,"
"So, um, what relation are you exactly?"
And of course, she proceeded to set them very straight on the fact that they took me in as family "from the very beginning." So true. My friend's mom, Mãe T, often downplayed those great homecooked meals she cooked up, assuming that because I was a Westerner and lived in a bigger house, that I was just being kind when I praised them...but that I was really secretly craving something fancy and more glamorous. I wasn't. When I was lonely and hungry and tired, being able to walk through the alleys to knock on their door and be welcomed in for a big plate of rice, chicken and that absolutely to-die-for caramelized onion farofa made all the difference. A little thing, perhaps, but the sort of little thing that over time, cements you into family. Thanks, Mãe T, for all the meals, the advice, the hugs and the love!