I grew up in a large Catholic family from Southern California. We are all very close, and when we were younger, my cousins and I all went to the same private school–St. Mary Star of the Sea. Because all of our parents worked, we would get dropped off at Grandma’s house each morning, and Grandma or Grandpa would drive us to school in the big green Chevy station wagon. The wagon was cool, not only did it have three rows facing forward, but also there was a row facing backwards which allowed us to wave and make faces at the cars behind us. Grandma always insisted on the big wagon so that she could pile in all her grandkids when she needed to. We were always made to feel we were their pride and joy.
I remember one morning in particular, I did something so stupid that it really disappointed my grandparents. My mom dropped us off, like she did each morning. We ran inside to wait for the rest of the kids to arrive before heading off to school. Grandpa sat in his recliner, reading his bible while Grandma was cooked breakfast in the kitchen. She would always ask if we were hungry, even if we ate at home. She always had something special cooking in the kitchen, like tortilla con juevo. That morning after she served me a plate, while I was eating grandpa checked our bags to make sure we had our lunches. He opened my bookbag and the scrunch in his forehead let me know something wasn’t right. He pulled out a plastic baggie filled with dried green leaves, and turned to my grandma, “Que es eso? Drogas?”
My grandma’s eyes looked as if they were going to pop out of her head. Grandma looked shocked, but also disappointed, “Kenny what’s that,” she asked? I was in sixth grade, so the thought of one of her grandkids smoking marijuana was farthest from her mind, especially one that went to a Catholic school.
“Its nothing grandma.”
“What do you mean its nothing?”
“A girl at school was acting cool because she said she smokes weed with her friends at home and I told her I did too. She didn’t believe me, and she bet me I didn’t have any. Its only oregano; I was gonna trick her.”
Grandma looked at grandpa and told him to check it. He opened the bag, and with a look of confusion pulled the bag to his nose and inhaled, “I think its oregano.”
“Taste it!” she tells him sternly.
Grandpa’s eye’s open wide at her response, he put his hand in the bag and grabbed a pinch of leaves and then slowly placed the leaves on his tongue. He looked up at grandma and his face turned to a grin, “Si es oregano.”
Grandma gave a sigh of relief, and then looked at me, “What do you think you are doing taking oregano to school and pretending it’s drugs?”
“But nothing!” she scolds me, “Pretending is just as bad as having the real thing.”
I look at my grandpa and he is shaking his head back and forth, while at the same time trying to hold back his laughter. I looked down to the ground in shame. She came up and gave me a hug. I should have known better than to do something so stupid. Lucky for me I come from a family who believes in forgiveness. We piled into the big green station wagon, and nothing was ever mentioned of that morning again. You see, we were always grandma’s special grandchildren.