Rosa Martinez

Cuban kids crossing the street with their teacher.  Photo: Juan Suarez
Cuban kids crossing the street with their teacher. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Children are the most wonderful beings in the world. They are loving and sincere, and can be respectful and applied when raised properly. They adapt quickly to abrupt changes, difficult situations and losses – all they need is someone to guide them, educate them and love them.

Children tend to notice things that often elude adults and know what’s best for their parents more than anyone.

A friend of mine told me something that happened to her and her five-year-old son that I want to share with our readers.

Miguel Antonio, her kid, started school in September of last year and, like his classmates, was enjoying an experience new to him – the classroom, the new friends, especially Carla, and he adored his teacher Raquel.

Adela, my friend, told me that, two or three weeks after classes started, her son asked her why she didn’t wear fake nails like the other moms did.

She told her little boy that those nails were expensive and that she was spending that money, not on a luxury like that, but to pay for his school snacks.

A week later, Miguel asked his mother why she didn’t wear pretty-looking jeans like the other mothers did.

This time around, my friend replied that her salary was extremely low, that it was barely enough to buy the essential things around the house and that, if she spent the money on pretty and expensive clothes, they would not be able to buy food, soap or toothpaste. She told him one can live without a pretty pair of paints or a blouse, but one can’t live without food or soap.

My friend understood her son’s concerns perfectly well, and she told him that the way people look on the outside matters very little, that what’s truly beautiful is what’s inside, the things one can’t see – that, if one is clean, wearing fashionable clothing is of no importance (though it is good to try and look one’s best).

Though she was sincere, she couldn’t help but feel embarrassed. She imagined her son’s classmates making fun of him for having a mother who doesn’t wear stylish clothes and can’t make herself up as much as she would want to. She even felt a little overweight, definitely ugly.

The days passed and my friend made every effort to paint her nails and have her hair styled more often. She fixed up some clothes a cousin of hers had given her. She made a big effort to look her best in everyone’s eyes, particularly those of her son.

Two or three weeks went by, and the child didn’t mention the matter again.

My friend thought that the child had finally understood and was happy he wasn’t worrying about her faded and out-of-style clothes or her short nails and graying hair.

It was then that Miguel asked her: “Mom, if I don’t take any snacks to school for a week, would you be able to save some money to buy a pair of jeans like the girl on the corner sells? I don’t eat much anyways…”

The mother was left speechless. Instead of saying anything, she started to cry tears of pain.

Rosa Martínez

Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.

2 thoughts on “Beauty as Seen by a Cuban Child

  • Dear Rosa, though I thoroughly enjoyed reading the article you wrote, I find the last sentence of your bio to be more poignant; “I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.” And I’m sorry that anyone would have to live under that threat.

  • how materialistic values creep into the psyche. where did he get that view and not see his mom as more than a beauty queen wanna be. Leave it to HY
    T to bring out competition in its strange forms.

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