Friday, September 09, 2005

Near and Distant Relations

I went by Dawn's house last night to see how the first week of school was going. We were chatting on the front porch when her mom brought out some family photos. I got to see Dawn getting baptized in Mexico, Joey when he was just a baby, even Dawn's mom when she was about Dawn's age now. They do look fairly alike.

Joey was supposed to bring in something from his culture for a school assignment. He wanted to bring a photo of him and Dawn riding horses in Mexico.

We got to talking about baptisms. Joey is eight and has yet to be baptized. His mom--I am so embarrassed I am not sure of her name but for here we will call her Elizabeth--says they don't have anyone to serve as his godparents. Godparents are a big deal in Mexican families. It's not just that they promise to raise the child if the parents die--that's pretty standard Catholic folk legend that people take seriously but priests try to fight, saying it's more important that godparents help kids grow up as people of faith--but they shell out lots of bucks at the baptism and at other key life points. I make that point because as an Irish-American godparent I'm not really expected to do that for my godson/nephew. Dawn's family would want a padrino and madrina who could really be second parents, compadre and comadre, with them. That's pretty different from my experience of godparents, both the ones I had and the godmother I am now.

Supposedly today was grandparents' day at Chavez. Joey wanted me to come as his grandmother. "The only thing is, you're a lot whiter than I am," he said, which cracked me up. Really the whole thing had me laughing pretty hard--I'm only a year or two older than his parents, hardly abuela/grandma material--but I was like, "sure, why not--if it's OK with your mom." I've been wanting to go to school and meet his teachers. So we went to talk to Elizabeth about it.

She was in the back making dinner for her husband--Joey and Dawn's dad works nights so he eats dinner (or is that breakfast?) around 9:30 before he goes to work. I believe he fixes cars at an all-night garage or something. When Joey told her his idea, both his parents busted up laughing. Loosely translated from Spanish, she said, "You don't have any grandparents here. Maureen can come to school and meet your teachers another day."

They do have family here--at least one uncle and an aunt or two, I think. But it's hard not to have grandmom and granddad around when you're little.

Oh, Joey also made me laugh when he said I remind him of his abuelito when I nag him about finishing his homework. Apparently Grandpa would poke him in the shoulder when they were doing something and he got distracted. Then he would say, "Come on Joey, hurry up!"--which is what I say when I'm trying to get him to get through his homework. So I guess I'm his honorary granddad.

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