Hello there! Long time, no see (my bad I know) but, here: an Alicia Zimmermann-centric piece as she goes to Parents’ Weekend during Jack’s freshmen year. [focus on Alicia, Jack, and Shitty] 6k
Somewhere, deep in her heart, Alicia Zimmermann knows she is a bad mother.
It started out as a worry, as maybe it does for all new mothers, that she will be a bad mother. That she won’t know what to do with a baby or a toddler that one day she will accidentally drop him or forget to feed him or feed him something he is actually allergic to or maybe she’ll scar him emotionally somehow and she worried but she survived his childhood okay. And then, after he was five or six, she stopped worrying about it. She thought she was doing pretty good. Jack had hockey and loved hockey and, sure, they didn’t have deep emotional talks but she didn’t exactly have any basis of comparison. Television families told her she was doing okay. No teenage boy wanted to have deep talks with his mother. And, look, if Jack didn’t talk to her all that much as he turned 12 and then 13, at least he was still talking to his father. Mostly still about hockey but she… she thought that had counted. Hockey was like French, to her. Another language she could understand but couldn’t quite speak. But Bob could. He was on top of it. Jack was taken care of.
She loved Jack. That was never the problem. The problem was that her love wasn’t enough. It didn’t matter. It didn’t alert her to any of the facts and maybe it even blinded her– She loved her son and her son loved hockey and so she loved hockey too. She loved her son and then her son seemed to love a boy named Kent and they never talked about it but she let Kent come over all the time and she figured they would discuss it at some point. She just… assumed everything was okay. Even after he was diagnosed with the anxiety disorder and given pills. It was always… well, that was a little problem but it’s handled and under control and everything is okay now.
See. Bad mother.
A good mother would have known somehow.
A good mother would have pushed and prodded or sensed it without even having to be told.
A good mother would have paid attention to how hard Jack was on himself. A good mother would have made sure her son had interests outside of hockey. A good mother would have known that Jack’s long silences after losses weren’t normal. A good mother would have preached balance and fostered friendships with different types of people and stopped the fucking hockey.
She didn’t though. Stop the hockey. No, not Alicia Zimmermann. She encouraged it. She went to the games and cheered the loudest and she even loved it a little bit because she thought it brought him joy, like his father. She bought into the vision: Jack playing hockey like Bob, the Zimmermann legacy continued throughout the ages…
God, she even used to tease Jack about how it took his father three years to win a Cup and she was sure Jack could manage it faster than his old man.
A good mother wouldn’t have done that. So, see, she’s always been a bad mother. Even now, now that she’s almost lost him, now that she’s promised to do better, now that she’s finally read all the books and online articles about anxiety and pressure and the danger of sports and hockey culture… now she’s still just as bad. Just for different reasons.
Now she is a bad mother because it’s Saturday afternoon and he’s been at Samwell for almost three months and she does not feel like mothers are supposed to feel in this moment.
She glances around. At the sea of other mothers and fathers crammed onto Samwell’s campus for Parents’ Weekend. They are not nervous. They are excited. Happy. Enthusiastic. Overjoyed to see the teenager they had left just a couple months ago again. To her right is a father almost (but not quite) breaking into a run to give his son a hug. To her left, a mother has burst into tears. Happy tears.
And then there’s her. She’s not excited to see Jack. Well, no. No, it’s not that she’s not excited. She is. She is. (She is. She repeats it once more just to remind herself). She is just…
She is nervous too. More nervous than she is excited.
Me, internally: everything about Subway is-is like infuriating. Yeah, it’s like, the people in front of you take too long, and like there’s no drive-thru, and like, it-it’s just all … I don’t know, I’m over-exaggerating obviously, but Subway is like the land of inconveniences. ‘Cause then, it’s like I-urgh. I have to be, “okay” and then like they’re like, “what do you want?” and I’m like, “uhh … sweet onion chicken teriyaki footlong on flat bread.” and then they’re like, “what bread?” and it’s, ugh, “flat bread.” And they’re like, “oh, okay.” And then they, they fuckin’ take, and they’re like, “did you say footlong?” “Yes, I said footlong.” “You want cheese?” and it’s like, “you want cheese?” it’s like, “yeah can I get um … swiss cheese?” And they’re like, “what kind?” And it’s like, “fucking…” Ugh. And they’re like, “toasted?” and it’s like, “OF COURSE toas—you cant have the flatbread and not toast it! It’s-It’s like spongy, gross, starchy-ass fuckin’ bread. It’s made to be toasted! OF COURSE I want it toasted!” And then they fuckin’ toast it, and they start helping the people behind you, and then it sits in the toaster for like twenty seconds longer than it’s supposed to. And you’re like, “I JUST WANT LUNCH!” And then they fuckin’ take it out, and it’s like ANOTHER person, and then you have to fuckin’ get a read on THEIR personality. And it’s like, “God damn it.” And they’re like, “what do you want?” And it’s like, and I’m like, “uh spinach”, and then they just fucking DESTROY it with spinach just like an AVALANCHE of spinach and you’re like, “I want like FIVE other things! You can’t just fill it up with spinach and think that’s ALL it’s gonna be!” And then you fuckin’, and then you’re like, “onion” and they’re like, “okay” and they put like two onions on it, and it’s like, “MORE ONION PLEASE!” And then when you get like some ‘weird’ combination like fuckin’, “can I get mayonnaise, and also sweet onion sauce?” They like throw up their eyebrows a little bit like: “woah.” And you’re like, “Don’t fuckin’ JUDGE me! I’ll eat what I want! I can make my OWN sandwich!”
my pals on the lancecord asked me for some tips on cuban spanish so i thought i’d share them here too for all you lance writers. i’m a cuban voltron fan who doesnt want to live in fear of bad spanish in nearly every damn fic and im trying to be the change i want to see in the world. so feel free to message me if you have any questions about lance’s culture bc this is nowhere near being comprehensive at all.
lets get into the stuff google translate can’t teach u!
i don’t know anyone under the age of 60 who says “dios mio.” lance definitely would not, unless he is doing an impression of his abuela.
things that sound more natural than dios mio: ave maria, ay dios, por dios, AY POR DIOS
more commonly we exclaim “coño!” for anything. shock/anger/awe/etc. if the reaction is negative, it’s just coño. if the reaction is positive, we drop the first syllable and draw it out like “‘ñoooooo”
we exclaim “pinga!” or “cojone!” or “pinga cojone!” as a negative reaction more commonly than any translations of omg too
“de madre” is something we usually exclaim as a negative reaction. it can be yelled or sighed or grumbled. usually has a frustrated or incredulous connotation
“wepa!” is a sound we make as a positive exclamation.
we say “‘ueno” like the verbal embodiment of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (it’s bueno with the b dropped)
other things that sound really stiff for cubans to say is like, “hola, como estas?” i mean, you say it to people you’re not on a casual level with. to friends/family these sound more natural:
“que bola asere” is how we greet our close friends
“que bola” or “que vuelta” is how we say hey
“oye” is hey! but not as a greeting, as an exclamation. something you would say before a greeting or on its own when surprised/offended/trying to get someone’s attention/etc
common insults: cabron/cabrona, mojon, comepinga, comemierda
common pet names for anyone: flaco, nena, mojon, mi socio, corazon
“asere” is our word for “bro” that no other country uses (1000% what lance calls hunk)
we also have a tendency to call our family members by their relation+their name, such as “my Tio Jimmy called” or “Abuela Carmen is making food.” i think this is when we have big ol families and just saying tio or abuela isnt specific enough
also this isnt spanish but i s2g so many bilingual cubans i know use the word “fire” almost constantly to describe something awesome. so i think thats a small cultural thing that communicates lance is cuban without having him speak spanish. (ex. “omg that’s fire” “hunk makes fire tacos” “pidge is fire at fixing stuff” “can you play that fire song?”)
now here’s a bunch of stuff that’s just my opinion
I think it’s most in character for Lance to drop Spanish words only one or two at a time into English phrases, since that’s how he uses it in canon (“Hasta la later, Keith!”). A couple of quick examples off the top of my head -
tremendo/tremenda - an adjective for huge. “You’re being tremendo sore loser, but okay.”
todito/todo - means everything. you can use them one after the other for extra drama. “I forgot todito, todo, about calculus immediately after passing it.”
These sound like really natural ways to drop Spanish into conversation without being forcedif you keep it to a minimum. I aint here to tell u how to write your lance but i beg you - Please show restraint and don’t try to use all of these tips at the same time!!
I recommend following latin internet personalities (like jaxxgarcia or mr. red) to pick up their Spanglish phrasing if you’re really into that. please don’t try to make up your own. it’s never as cute as you thought.
if you’re writing full on spanish for more than a word or two, please do not ever make Lance speak it “accidentally” (or even worse, on purpose) to someone he knows doesn’t understand the language. that’s really rude and alienating and it’s so against lance’s character to isolate himself from others like that when he speaks fluent english.
other times Lance can toss a spanish word in without sounding forced is if he’s namedropping cuban things! Try looking up some of our
food (ropa vieja, pan con lechon, arroz con leche)
drinks (materva, iron beer, malta),
films (juan of the dead, azucar amarga)
or music (celia cruz, marc anthony, juanes*) and have lance mention them by their spanish name if the topic comes up.
*not all of these musicians are cuban, but they’re some of the most popular amongst us. i’m simply naming artists i think lance is most likely to enjoy considering his age and personality.
speaking of music, we have very specific dance styles that are pretty cool and almost mandatory to learn at a young age. cubans in general love to party, and to host large family gatherings which easily morph into parties, and basically any social event seems awkward if there’s no one dancing at any point.
what I’m trying to say is Lance definitely knows salsa or merengue moves.
I don’t love to party and I’m not a good dancer and I don’t like dancing, but I know salsa anyway because I had to be in the environment my whole life. always exceptions, but the majority of cubans grow up knowing how to dance and it looks more or less like this:
(no offense, but you’re a fool if u wrote a dance au and didn’t have lance whip this out. i purposely looked for videos that reflect what average people dance like, but professional salsa is insanely cool)
and one last opinion for the road:
Voltron takes place in the future, so I like to dream of Lance being born in a world where Cuba’s free from communism. If you’re doing a Voltron AU that takes place nowadays, please don’t write about Lance’s experience in Cuba if you aren’t familiar with what it’s like to live under a regime like that. It’s very bleak and textbooks don’t cover half of the fucked up things that those who live there actually have to go through.
Lance could have been born in Cuba, but raised somewhere else. Miami would be my recommendation because it’s our second homeland and it means he would have been raised surrounded by Cuban culture without the governmental oppression. But Cubans are absolutely everywhere, so it’s equally believable that Lance’s family could have immigrated to Pawnee, Indiana. Even in Voltron canon, I think it’s likely Lance moved to America at a young age because he clearly has a native fluency in English.
edit: I have a cuban things tag now if you’re interested in finding out more cultural details!