Sunday, November 24, 2013

His name is José

Marielos had asked me to pick up all the children one Tuesday afternoon.  She had a story about being on an IV all day receiving "vitamins" from a nurse. A few days later she was in the hospital threatening to miscarry.  My suspicion is that, whatever happened vitamins were not involved and the "nurse" was really a midwife skilled in both delivering and not delivering babies.

Despite having my fingers crossed Marielos was discharged after five days still pregnant.  During those five days I had the chance to re-connect with her fairly sensible older sister, Gladys. I asked Gladys if Marielos had told her family that Alex, with a six-year old vasectomy, was the father of her baby.  She laughed and said "yes." 

Again I was witnessing something remarkable in that, with a crisis at hand, Gladys had moved her three kids back into the home of her parents and was caring for all six children.  She got all six off to school and then filled in for Marielos so that she wouldn't lose her cleaning job. As a result there was little disruption for the children who, in reality, and thankfully, have a multitude of parents.

Once Marielos had recovered from whatever happened at the hospital the day of reckoning was at hand. Olga, the psychologist, had an appointment at my house with Diego.  I had told her that I would pay for one more appointment for Marielos to see if we could impress upon her the importance of telling the truth if for no one else's sake but Diego's. After Olga's meeting with him I shepherded Diego upstairs where Cristofer was watching the video "Pinocchio".

I sat in on the conversation between Marielos and Olga and when the opportunity presented itself told Marielos that it was time that she told, at least, her eldest son the truth about his pending sibling.  I was surprised at her level of resistance.  I countered with the fact that I had paid for Alex's vasectomy, that I knew that he had gone back for two re-checks and carried a "no sperm" certificate.  I told her that I was not going to support the child regardless of whose it was. She continued to resist and only when I said that she had been seen in a car with an hombre did she start to crumble. 

First he was twenty (she is twenty-nine) then he became nineteen and even had a name.  His name is "José."  She then talked about her fear of telling her family whom she expected would put her out on the street. And why shouldn't they except for the children.

I then realized that behind many of the lies that we gringos find so objectionable is often abject terror.  The desperate live their lives every day so very close to the edge so why not tell a lie even if it only works for a few minutes?

Marielos is quite obviously clinically depressed as a result of way too many bad decisions.  I suspect Diego's angst is about being denied his childhood and being pushed into the role of parent way too young.  At least with this next one he will be in school and Marielos will need to care of it herself.

Otherwise, Jackie, the child mom seems to be doing a decent job with her offspring who still is not official with a birth certificate because she can't decide whether or not to add the father's name.  Reports are that he screams a lot and I have pointed out repeatedly that he needs to be stimulated, that he is bored.  Custom tells them that it is OK to leave him lying on his back in a dark room staring at the ceiling.  They are stunned when I pick him up and walk outside with him and he stops crying.  They are stunned that, at not quite three months, that he is fascinated by my cockatiels (birds), that he responds when people talk to him and that, given the opportunity he is reaching for things.  Estela, mother of three, is amazed at his development which seems quite normal to me.    Estela is certain that he is a genius. I explained that he needs to use his senses so that his brain develops.  For Jackie's birthday I bought a baby seat with things hanging from it so that he doesn't have to be lying on his back staring at the ceiling.  Reports are that he is reaching for and playing with the hanging things.

The younger two, Cris and Mishelle, seem oblivious to the travails of their mother.  They get along amazingly well and much of the time are laughing together.  Along with Diego they are taking swimming lessons during their school vacation.  Their mother, a non-swimmer, came once to watch and the following week neither wanted to go as mom had instilled her fear of swimming in them.  So they sat out while Diego got to swim for two hours. The owner of their school had a talk with them and they are now back in the pool and can't wait to get there. Cristofer, the future comedian, who is always either smiling or talking, has had to learn to shut his mouth when he goes under water.

Diego, after less than a year of English, is using English first with me and seems to understand most everything.  After a year of getting no school credit as his only task was to learn English I trust that he will be back on track in the fifth grade in January.  I may consider moving him to the international school after another year of English.  As he and Astrid are good friends they could provide support for each other.

Jackie and Denis both finished their school year successfully with good grades.  Jackie has one more year and will then be the first in her family to complete the equivalent of high school.  She will then pursue a teaching job which will require her to continue her education at the university level.  Accommodation is made here for those who need to work in order to study.  University classes are held all day on Saturdays.

In another year Denis will have completed basico or middle school.  Then he and I will decide if he continues for two more years to finish high school or whether he goes to a technical school to learn to become a mechanic, which is a very good job.  All the cars discarded years ago in the United States as being too old are running quite nicely here thanks to the skill of the mechanics.

Astrid continues to shoot for the moon.  She is in her third year at the international school where she has a large group of friends.  Last week she went to a birthday party for a boy in her class.  She told me that she had befriended him because others discriminated against him because they think he is gay.  She has a remarkable compassion for others which may be directly related to her roots.  Her best friend at school is also fatherless.  Her father was once a gang member who left the gang and achieved great success as a clown. His story was documented in a film after which his former gang members assassinated him.  She and her brother are being sponsored at the school by the filmmaker.  Astrid has shared the story of her father with her friend who, with her younger brother, are the only other students who ride the chicken bus to and from school.

Dental work for all is tapering off.  Diego has had the worst time.  He had teeth pulled, has two different retainers but will end up with straight teeth thanks to one of the world's greatest dentists.  Thankfully, it is all very affordable and he enjoys having help too.

No one has heard a word from Alex.  He hasn't called since Marielos found herself pregnant again. No one visits him that anyone knows of.  I hear that boredom is the hardest thing to bear in Guatemalan prisons.  It is hard to imagine how he is coping.  I wonder if anyone would even be notified if he were no longer living.  I have been told that the case (cases) against him are a matter of public record.  Somewhere I have his case number and one of these days I will go around and ask to see his file.  The day may come when the children might ask whatever happened to their father.

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