When I was a child, there was only one place where I fell asleep at night without any problem. Even at my own home, I had a hard time falling asleep. There were a lot of noises coming in from the outside, or some sort of family drama would seep in and take my sleep. But at my paternal grandparents’ home up in the mountains in Chihuahua, I was always in a very safe place.
My paternal grandparents were relatively well-off compared to the rest of the population in town. Grandpa had made a name for himself as a businessman and political activist. He had his small business and was a pillar of the community. He was also a very humble man. You’d never know he had the wealth that he did. The house was big, one floor, four rooms and a big yard, but it had a thatched roof and the walls were made mostly of adobe (which keeps it cool in the summer and warm in the winter).
My grandparents made sure I had every comfort when I visited. There was television, running hot water, corn flakes with banana for breakfast, and meat for dinner. I had a comfortable bed and plenty of space to run around in. They encouraged me to play with the neighborhood kids, and we played to our heart’s delight on those long summer days. When it rained heavily, we would run in the streets and try to swim in the streams of muddy water. Thank God for the tetanus shot.
That house was a safe place like no other. I was free to grow and play and learn, and I didn’t have to worry about the world at large. Mexico was under the “perfect dictatorship,” but I didn’t know it. There were times when money was tight, but I had no clue. My job was to play, learn a few things (it was summer vacation, after all) and grow in the love that my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and parents provided. That was it.
That is the kind of home I want to build for Baby Ren and all her friends and cousins. Casa de Ren will be a place with no judgement and plenty of fun and entertainment, lots of books, and a backyard for playing with dirt and observing the observable universe. There will be no toxic masculinity. Boys who cry will be hugged and comforted. Girls who cry, the same. Girls can wear pants and be strong and courageous. Boys can wear dresses, if that is their thing, and read novels or play music.
It will be a place for them to grow into who they are, not who anyone else wants them to be… So long as they don’t hurt themselves or others in the process. Liberal ideas along with conservative ones will be discussed with respect and reason. Any and all Abrahamic and non-Abrahamic religions will be tolerated and, what’s better, explained and understood.
Because that is what a home is. It’s not a place for abuse and judgment. It’s a place to feel safe and fall into the deepest of slumbers without a care in the world, safe in the knowledge that the adults have things under control, even if they don’t. Home is a safe place, and that’s what I’ll build mine to be.
René F. Najera, DrPH
I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
About Epidemiological: I am the sole contributor to Epidemiological, my personal blog to discuss all sorts of issues. It also has an About page you should check out.