The World Open Before You: To My Son on His First Day of Pre-K

boy with backpack holds appleMi amor, my sweet boy. I’m not sure where the last four years went. I don’t know when you got too big for my arms, but here we are. Just a few days away from the first day of Pre-K, and thus, your academic career. Your poor mami is feeling so many things, things too big for this love letter to hold. But this letter is not about me. It is entirely about you, as you come into your own skin and begin to figure out who you are. You’re too little to make sense of my words right now, but when you’re ready, Mami will share with you the words of a mother whose love for her boy is endless.

As we’ve been getting ready for the big day, I’ve let you make your own decisions, from your Iron Spider backpack and new Miles Morales jersey to the eyeglasses you picked out and the Spiderman labels that I still have to put on everything. Maybe it seems small now, but Papi and I have promised to always let you be your own person, and to hold each other accountable if and when we start putting our own expectations for you on you. That means, you choose school supplies now, possible hairstyles in your preteen years, and your first love in your adolescence. Lord willing, we will always be here to guide and support you, PK-12 years and beyond.

Your Community, Your Gente

group of pre k students with backpacks walk in groupFor the first time in your life, you will be in a classroom with other kids, just like you, beautifully bilingual and bicultural. With them over the years to come, you’ll learn what it means to be de aquí y de allá {from here and there} and figure out the wonderful tensions that exist in our identity as Latinx Americans. In this classroom, you’ll first experience the unique community of nuestra gente {our people} and what a blessing it’ll be. You will hear many Spanish accents and Indigenous languages, learn about different customs and traditions from a range of Latin American countries, and see skin colors as varied as the rainbow. You will quickly learn what most people still don’t realize about us: we are not a monolith.
I pray you see pieces of yourself in your classmates, and never feel too alone because of them. See, possibly my favorite thing about being Latinx is the way we carry each other, mi niño, in the good and the bad. Some may tell you that depending on others is a weakness, but not to us. For us, it is our superpower.

Your Best, Always

two small girls work together to build with blocksOne thing I will always be grateful to your abuelo for is that he never pushed me beyond my limits. There were a few times I struggled in school, and he would ask me, “Did you do your best?” Once I affirmed that I indeed did do my best, he always trusted my word and left it at that. Maybe you won’t like math. Maybe you’ll even hate reading {currently resisting the urge to cry at the thought}. But when the day comes that you’re struggling with a class, I will ask you just like Abuelo asked me: “Are you doing your best?” I won’t shame or guilt-trip you, but instead come up with a game plan alongside Papi and your teachers to help you be successful. As long as you give your best, always.

My Prayer for You

mother and daughter hold hands and smile at each otherMore than anything, I wish for you to live a full life. For now, that means discovering what your favorite school subjects are, appreciating the teachers who make you think about things in a new way, and making the best of friends, learning to forgive when they mess up, just as sure as you will from time to time. I am so excited about everything the future holds for you. Shine on, my love, and Mami will forever be here to watch you glow and grow.


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Liz Márquez
Liz was born into a big, beautiful, and loud Ecuadorian-American family. For the first nineteen years of her life, they lived in Clifton, New Jersey, until the cold weather got to be too much. While she was not initially a fan of the move to Texas, Liz now adores the city of Houston, so much so that she had the downtown skyline tattooed on her forearm. Houston proudly witnessed her graduate with a degree in Bilingual Education and joyfully watched her become a seasoned classroom teacher. Houston most importantly taught Liz how to two-step and line dance, while reminding her of her deep love for old-school Latin salsa. Houston beamed with excitement when she unexpectedly fell in love with a Pasadena-raised country-lovin’ boy who would become her husband and the father of their little boy. Now, Houston gets a front-row seat to Liz’s unfolding, healing, and becoming through the art of storytelling and poetry. Telling and writing stories was always Liz’s first and greatest love, and coming back to it now for her feels like coming home. Here in Houston, or wherever she and her family end up, she rests easy, knowing they are forever gathered under the wings of the Divine.


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