March 19

Dear Diary,
Today in church, after being so mad at Sandro this week, I prayed for patience. But when I told that to Mama on our way home, she raised her eyebrows and said, “Some people believe that when we pray for something like patience, we are sent the things that test that virtue. So, Consuelo—don’t be surprised if you find yourself surrounded by people and things that make you impatient! Otherwise, how will you learn to be patient, si?”

I had never thought of it that way.

“Then I guess I can stop praying,” I said, “because I have plenty of those things right now! I only need to find a way to put up with them.”

“You mean Sandro,” replied Mama. I looked away and nodded. She stopped in the shade of an old loquat tree and gazed down at me.

“I have been so proud of you, Consuelo. You thought of feeding the street children, and you took Lucero under your wing and made her your hermano, your little sister.” She rested a hand on my shoulder. “I see the trial Sandro is for you…”

“He acts like a puppy around Papa,” I muttered, “following him around, wagging his tail, and trying to please him. But when he looks at me, I see the real Sandro—the one who wants to take over everything and be the boss, even of me.” I felt my anger flowing back into my face like a hot fire. “I can’t let that happen! I won’t!”

Ay, mi querida hija,” sighed Mama, “you have passion! You remind me of myself when I was your age.”

I blinked. My calm, quiet, mother was once like me? I had never heard her shout once, not even in the bakery. She must have known my thoughts, for she smiled.

“Oh, si, I was a chili pepper just like you, Consuelo! It took many years to learn how to hold my tongue until I had something wise to say. I, too, used to pray for patience.”

“It must have worked,” I replied.

“For the most part,” she said, shrugging. “I still have my moments. I just keep them to myself or wait until I cool off to discuss them with others. Now…your Papa loves you mucho, little one. You will always be his baby daughter, a special flower in this family. So put any jealousy about Sandro and Papa out of your head—it’s a waste of time. I have seen how Sandro looks at you slyly sometimes, when he thinks no one is watching. Oh yes, I know he has mischief in his head, that boy!”

Knowing that Mama understood this made me feel so much better, Diary! Some of the anger went out of my heart.

“What you must remember is that he is the outsider, the apprentice, the learner; he is a poor boy who can succeed only if he is smart enough and liked enough, there in the bakery. It is a lack of confidence in himself that makes him try so hard. Many times, unsure people try to make others feel small or jealous—because that is the only way they can feel better about themselves.” She sighed again. “I hope that as Sandro believes in himself more, he will relax and let down his guard.” She smoothed my hair with her hands, one on each side of my face; it always made me feel loved and calm.

“As for your Papa, he is enjoying having a boy to teach again. I think he’s missed that since Carlos grew up and became a good baker in his own right. There is great joy in teaching—as you know, since you teach little Lucero many things, si?

I nodded. “Could we—you and me—teach more to the street children, Mama? Maybe teach them enough to have a special baking day and sell their pastries to make money for them?”

“Yes, I think that would be a lot of fun. We can have a little fiesta and invite the neighborhood to come buy their goods. Maybe raffle off a cake, too, and have a piñata.

I hugged Mama close, loving the smell of rose cologne and fresh bread that always clung to her blouse.

Gracias, Mama!” I said.

De nada, my dear one,” she replied.

Then we walked home to make dinner for the family—even Sandro—and I didn’t mind. I am excited about the bake sale, Diary. But I have an even bigger idea that I’m not ready to share just yet.

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