In the days leading up to my grandmother’s death, my eyes lingered on her ninety-year-old hands. As a little tomboy, Arcelia’s hands had mesmerized me. I watched them feed cookies to caged parrots. I felt the caresses she offered to dogs, cats, and pigeons. In the kitchen, her mandil darkened as she wiped her wet
My first encounter with girls as ardent capitalists happened between the covers of Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books.
That my parents continuously thwarted my entrepreneurial dreams made me wonder what was wrong with them, and, by extension, me. First I wondered if they weren’t so weird about my tween bootstrapping fantasies on account of us being Mexican. Then, as I got a little older, I started to wonder if they weren’t being such assholes about my moneymaking schemes because I was… a girl. After I had that second epiphany—and this was before I’d ever heard the word intersectionality—I fused these concerns. I then spent time wondering what it was about my being a Mexican girl that provoked their restrictions.
Several weeks into attending my graveyard-adjacent nursery school, my parents noticed something weird. When I got home from school, I’d grab Mom’s or Dad’s hand and take them on a tour, introducing them to household objects. “This is the television. This is a chair. This is a sofa. This is a plate. That is a lamp. This is its switch. The lamp is now off.” My behavior mystified Dad until he realized what I was doing and burst out laughing.
“Bebé,” he called out, “Myriam’s teachers think she can’t speak English! They’ve been trying to teach her! That’s why she acts like a parrot when she comes home! She’s parroting the ‘lessons’ they’re giving her.” He chuckled as hard as he did when he watched Saturday Night Live.