All afternoon Chiqui has been asking for hugs, sidling up to me and rubbing my arm, whispering: “you are the softest, nicest mamá” to me. I don’t ask why he’s more demonstrative than usual, I just hug back.
Finally, after dinner, while we wait for Golondrina, he snuggles up to me on the couch and says,“You know, I think the boys at school are afraid to talk about love. They never say they love their mamás. They write Valentines to each other that, instead of saying love, say “kill yourself.” They think love is just for girls.”
I feel so sad inside. For the boys he is talking about, for Chiqui, for all of us.
“What do you think?” I ask.
“I think love is for everyone. I love you mamá.”
Later, when he lies down for bed, Chiqui welcomes my goodnight visit with literally open arms. I hold him against my chest and we talk some more about love. We talk about Papá, how he thinks a lot about love and often tells Chiqui he loves him. I tell Chiqui I feel sad that little boys and grown men, full of love, who ARE love, should feel they can’t let anyone know that.
“I can help them,” Chiqui says, with no sliver of doubt.
I whisper my question, “How?”
“By talking about love, playing with the girls and the boys.”
And I think out loud: By being your bright and beautiful self.