Thursday, May 6, 2010


My youngest son is still mastering the art of walking. He can really get going but holds his left arm up and out like the 90s arm movement that went along with the phrase whatever. If he were a girl he'd hold his purse in the crook of his elbow. It's not a big deal and his balance improves every day.

What is really great about the whole thing is the attention it gets here in Rio de Janeiro. When I take my little one year old on a walk through our neighborhood he normally gets the sterotypical 'he's so cute' or 'look at that blond hair'. It's really quite sweet how people love to stop and coo over him.

Then there's the older women. I'm talking about the ones between 70 and 90. They can't help themselves. It's their nature, culture, age, something... They have to get a little dig in there. It all starts with a 'oh what beautiful eyes' and then, once you smile all proudly, they reach over and touch your elbow oh so softly. That is the moment of doom. They drop it 'But he has a gimpy arm there. You've got to watch it'

Watch it what? Gimp? And the nerve! Who are you to say that about my son?! Ok, you are about 103 years old and survived bad inflation, numerous currency changes, a military dictatorship, a revolution, and children of your own just to name a few. It did throw me off though. How do you respond to that? Thank you?

The first time I tried to defend my child's arm. I told her 'no, it's only when he walks. He uses it normally otherwise.' to which I only received a slight shake of her head and eyes full of pitty. I actually questioned myself as my son continued towards the park walking like RuPaul.

I watched her walk away and realized that she had stopped only to mention my son's arm wasn't normal. Only in Rio would someone stop you to point out that your son is slightly retarded, or so they think. And you have to love the casual way in which they say it. She could just as well had said watch out there's a step coming up or your shoe is untied. But no, she was saying my kids arm was lame.

So as I said before, the first time threw me off. The second time was interesting and I hardly noticed the third. By the time my husband's grandmother said it I just looked at her and said 'Sure, yeah, I know'.

And that is the truly amazing thing about living in Rio de Janeiro. You honestly learn to let something go in one ear and out the other. My mother has been trying to teach me how to do this since I learned how to be offended. It took having a child in Brazil to make it sink in. It was immersion that did it.

Just bring your 3 month old to Rio and take him/her out for a walk without socks. You will be attacked by little old ladies. Try it. I dare you!


  1. Oh, good old Brazilian honesty... and I thought it mostly existed to tell you how fat/skinny/tired/pretty/red faced/sweaty you were looking. Hmph.