Understanding (ComprensiĆ³n)

My boy loves to ski.

That should be the whole post, I know, because what else is actually important with this groundbreaking news from a person who’d never been outside of a tropical environment before seven months ago?

But it has been a hard week. It started with a $270 phone call to Honduras (yes, the phone company forgave my discrepancy in understanding here, bringing it down to $27). It continued with my child withdrawing (to the point of email contact from a math teacher who never contacts me) completely from math class, to juggling and standing on desks in science class where my colleague (covering a class) texted, “Man your son is a shit” to several outbursts and clownish behavior in the three hours I have him every afternoon.

This is what it comes down to: I have three daughters, and I do not understand how to raise a son.

Last night I took him to Walmart where we scored the final pair of snow pants for $10, and after we stood in the endless line, we arrived home to no dinner.

He fixed eggs for himself (his go-to meal), and I carved out an avocado to pair with my wine.

I mentioned, again, his behavior in all of his classes.

“But I am just being myself, Miss, and I can’t change who I am. And I always show you respect.”

“Do you show me respect when you return from a doctor’s appointment and shout across the room when everyone is taking a test, telling the whole class that you can’t write because of the shots you got? Do you show respect when you ask Melvin to tear off your bandaids? When your goal is to flirt instead of to learn?”

“No, Miss.”

“You are eighteen. And you can change your behavior. Not your personality. Your behavior. And the thing is… I already love you. I love you because you are my son. And I spend hours planning those lessons because I really care about everyone in that class learning English… Everyone including you. Do you understand?”

No response except visible tears that this boy will not allow to fall (though my three daughters pride themselves on regular tear-shedding).

“Oh, son. Give me a hug.” This sentence 100% in English as I pull him towards me in the middle of the kitchen, and Riona and her best friend witness the entire event, understanding nothing, but are too afraid to continue making their meringues, as he won’t let go.

He just holds me in that kitchen like he hasn’t been hugged in a hundred years.

And maybe he hasn’t.

“What did you say to him?” Riona asks when he finally releases me, opens the refrigerator, searches for hot sauce.

“I think I should tell you later. Who knows how much he really understands.”

“Really, Mama? I don’t think he understands us at all. He doesn’t act like it.”

He pulls his face away from the fridge: “Que pasa?”

We all laugh. Back to Spanish: “Do you know what we’re saying?”

“I understand some words, but not the whole conversation.”

“Do you know the word, ‘understand’ in English?”

“No.”

And that is it. That is my Saturday post. I knocked on his door at 5am and he was ready to sing me Spanish love songs all the way to Winter Park by 5:15. He learned how to ski in one day with his absentee fear and my broken Spanish, and what more could one ask for from a brokenhearted, ever-loving, muy-atletico, hijo hondureƱo?

Does he understand me?

A little.

Do I understand him?

I’m working on it.

But one thing I know:

I love him.

And that is better than any frost you will feel on your face.