Cuentos, Familia

The Belt

No one remembers the original offense. It’s not important. I did something bad enough to warrant passing on punishment to dad.

“Wait until your dad comes home. You’re gonna get it,” mom warned.

Uh oh. That was bad. Dad had less patience for misbehaved children than mom. I hoped she would forget by the time dad arrived from work 3 or 4 hours later. Perhaps she wouldn’t forget, but dad would just shrug off the report of my bad behavior and I would get away without a spanking. Yeah right, that was unlikely.

Dad was in a bad mood when he got home. No surprise. He’d been dealing with entitled and demanding customers all day and then sat through 2 hours of LA traffic on his commute from Van Nuys back to Hacienda Heights.

On most days, I rushed to hug dad as soon as I heard his car pull up the driveway. I loved taking his Igloo lunch box and looking for some leftover Fritos. That day I stayed away save for a quick hello. I returned to my room to read the latest Babysitters Club book I had checked out from the library.

Just as I was starting a new chapter, I heard dad call from the kitchen, “Cindy, come here.”

Damn, I thought. She didn’t forget.

In the kitchen, dad finished up his dinner while mom cleaned up.

“Your mom told me what you did. Go get a belt.”

I didn’t try to defend myself, and instead followed his directions.

I took my time looking through the closet. I was in no rush to get spanked. I sifted through dad’s black leather belts and mom’s brightly colored belts. I was used to dad’s belts. They hurt. I did the logical thing and chose one of mom’s flimsy belts.

I took it back to the kitchen. Mom was surprised when she saw me return with the turquoise belt she wore with one of her favorite dresses. Dad tried to hide his bemusement.

“¿Qué es esto?” he asked sternly.

I shrugged. “You told me to bring a belt.”

He thought silently while I held my breath wondering if he’d spank me with mom’s belt or send me back to the closet with explicit instructions to bring one of his belts.

After a minute he waved me away and conceded defeat. He’d just been outsmarted by an eight year old.

Cultura, Familia


My excuse used to be ignorance. I simply didn’t know how to make a pot of beans. Sure, I’d seen my mom, Mamá Toni and tías make them several times, but I didn’t trust myself not to totally screw up. Then I found some simple recipes and instructions by El Chavo and La Traductora. They seemed foolproof. I could do this. I bought a bag of beans and then let them sit on the shelf. I’d found a new excuse: time. I couldn’t wait two hours for a bowl of beans.

But tonight I was craving beans and I had time. I pulled up the recipes and got to work on my first ever pot of beans. While the beans cooked I made some salsa de tomatillo and salmon enchiladas*. I made a mess in the kitchen, but my food was delicious and filling.

After cleaning up, I called Mom to share the news that I had not ruined my first pot of beans.
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