Sunday, January 16, 2011

What's the latest fetish? - Qual'e' l'ultimo feticcio?

First there was us. William used to love starring at our face for long periods of time, enchanted.
Then came the people. In restaurants, in stores, at the playground, William loved starring at the faces around him. No need for toys when the people were around. He soon discovered that it would only take him a couple of smiles to get loads of attention. Then the flirting began. Do you remember when you were going out with that friend who couldn't help flirting with every single guy she would come across, no matter if the guy was interested or not? Right, going out with William for a while was kind of like that. The situation improved when my husband and I started to realize that William was becoming selective. Now if she is not young and pretty, he can't be bothered.
mmm, his face is different
Then the object of his adoration became doors. No matter where we were, as soon as a door (small or large door, cupboard door, wardrobe door or bedroom door) would be visible, William would do anything to reach for it and to have fun opening and closing it - over and over.
It's a door, yeah!
Then came cars, often squeezed in his tiny hands like a precious loot. William has been obsessed with cars for months. The wheels of his colorful plastic cars have been going round on all floors, mats, tables, high chairs and couches we have used, in more than one country. More recently, on the ramps of a garage but not for long. The cars are now parked.
Cars, loads of cars!

So what came next? Animals. Small, large and loud. First came beee, mooo and cra cra (Italian frog sound), i-o (Italian donkey sound), chichirichi' (Italian rooster sound), miao and cr cr (William's pig sound). And the big, bad wolf's uhrrrr, which only Mamma e Dada knows how to make.
Did you hear me? Beeeee!!!
To be completely honest, as a girl from Turin (the city of books) living in MA (where books are given to babies on their first day of life), I was holding onto writing this posting, hoping that William's next obsession would be to carry books around the house but I have decided to stop hoping that this happens. In a way I should think that it is good that books have never been an obsession for him as his obsessions tend to quickly come and go.

I will always love books. Ha, you wish!
Now, going in circles around the house - quite a task in our tiny place! seems to be William's latest fetish. The corridor around our kitchen is the largest walking space in our house, so William takes immense pleasure from walking in circles around me cooking, with the occasional peek-a-boo and with something dangerous or inappropriate (e.g. my underwear) in his hands. I know I should not let him tour the kitchen while I am cutting vegetables next to burning hot pans with oil splattering all over the place but today I have realized that if I don't let him tour the kitchen from time to time, I might end up with a rancorous child. You must see what happens when I raise the lock of the kitchen gate: I see a very sad baby face transforming into the happiest giggler on earth. Priceless!
Touring the house. Yes!
Hopefully, the kitchen tours will keep him occupied until he will fall in love with something else. I noticed that he has already started developing an attraction for the stairs in the entry way.

Friday, January 14, 2011


In the last month or so William has been saying the word "no" quite a lot. The "no" started as an occasional playful sound. Then it became louder. He now says it constantly and with a firm tone of voice: at home, in public, no matter where he is, he likes to say "no" pretty loud and he laughs, while looking at the surprised people around him. Then he goes:" ha, ha, ha - ha, ha, ha" and he makes an evil smile. I was so happy William no longer needed the pacifier during the day but there are times when the pacifier is the only thing I can use to stop him from saying his loud "no" to everyone around him. It can be quite embarrassing when you are close to people who want to read, to see something or to simply eat quietly.
Now when he is not happy waiting for me to get something done, he says "dai, dai, dai!", which in Italian means "come on, hurry up!".
What's this all about? Is William changing into one of those rebels bursting into rage from time to time? He is only 18 months.

No, William has not changed. It is just that he has started listening to the Zecchino D'Oro songs (slightly naughty songs from the yearly Italian children's festival).

The incriminated CD
This is what I discovered yesterday when I heard William say "no! " louder than ever. He was listening to this:

Do you have a PC? Noooooooooooooooo! You don't have a PC? Noooooooooooooooo! Then I am the one who can go surfing, while you can't! Ha, ha, ha, ha! Mario is better... Mario who is not a genius in maths, who forgets things, but who loves to do the twist!...

He also gets excited with another song, the bit that goes:

Put your undershirt on
Put your undershirt on

For William, the more nooooooooooooos in a song, the better.

Then, when I put him to bed, as soon after I say "what will the beautiful turtle eat? Two leaves of lettuce, then it will get some rest", William goes:

ha, ha, ha - ha, ha, ha!
(which is exactly how the song goes)

Then, as soon as I open the book of uncle Tobia's old farm (Old MacDonald's Farm), William goes "ia-ia!" (meaning ia-io). Then he performs all the animal sounds he knows. He does that with and without the book, at home and outside the house. Last saturday at the Museum of Fine Arts he started a loud "babau" (Italian dog sound) in Richard Avedon's fashion photographs exhibition room. He didn't stop until I put him to sleep with his pacifier in the stroller.

We have more and more of these interactions these days. And now that the Italian nonni (grandparents) sent William a baby MP3 player, we listen to music every day. Cool, eh? Well, our days are not exactly spent listening to Radiohead or De Gregori (an Italian singer I like). No. We spend our days listening to a mix of vintage and new Zecchino D'Oro songs, the ones that all Italians love and hate (e.g., Il Coccodrillo Come Fa). Love when they have children; hate when they don't. And because William is the son of a 38 years old who still remembers word by word cartoon songs from the eighties such as Bia and Belle e Sebastien, his destiny is marked. Honestly, I never thought I would listen to these again, much less sing them.

Ok, so today the inevitable has happened. I was at the local coffee shop and was looking for cocoa powder to put on my cappuccino - something quite common here in Boston - but no, what do I find in the coffee shop? - Remember, this is the American suburb, I calmly said to myself - Everything! Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, chili powder, even parmesan cheese to put in the coffee. Everything, except for what I was looking for. "Excuse me, do you have cocoa powder by any chance?", I asked the woman making four different types of flavored coffee with three different types of milk and soy in it. The answer was "Sorry, I don't think we have that". "Nooo? You don't have it? Noooooooooo!", I whined. I said it perfectly, just like in the song that William loves. "Noooooooooooooooooooo! Noooooooooooooooooooo!, William loudly repeated after me with a naughty smile. Silence followed by laughter in the background.

Figura di merda! I said to myself once outside the store. Just try not to mooo or meow when we go there next time, can you?

So how do I teach William to say "si" instead of "no"? There isn't a single cool song for children with a "si", at least not an Italian one. Not to worry, William has already learned to say "yeah". I thought he learned it from uncle Sean in Wyoming. Nope, there is a Zecchino D'Oro song that finishes like this:

The secret is the tagliatelle of grandma Pina...
Sensational for lunch, for dinner and, believe me,
They are even good in the morning instead of coffee!



Monday, January 3, 2011

Unusual New Year's Eve - Capodanno diverso

Dancing behind strangers in a conga line after an expensive 20-course cenone (meal) with the fireworks outside and songs like The final Countdown, Macarena and YMCA!... "Come on, Germany is not far from here. Will you give us a lift in your car?", my friend asked, looking for love... You tell the guy you are dating that you are sick so that you can go out with your mates. What? He's at the front door with a get well card and flowers!... Don't fancy table dancing with strippers this year. Nor I like the idea of having to wear a swim suite in the club with snow outside. "Ok, you are all coming to my house!" (which really means we'll go to my local pub because my studio flat fits two people maximum)... Maybe we could go drinking at Charterhouse and at 26 Smithfield before Zodiac opens. Let's just hope that this year nodody vomits on our dresses...

"Sweetheart, let's simply have a candle lit dinner at my favorite restaurant in Fulham. Then we can look at the fireworks on the river and walk home" "No taxis? Can I wear your shoes?"... "Honey, this year we'll celebrate New Year's eve in Italy." "Cool!" "Sorry but we'll be at my parents' place watching a magic show with old people"...

Well, this year (2010-2011) I have not made plans. Nor I had any hope that we would do something special. I figured that John and I could take William to the Children Museum to tire him out, have the three of us dine early and then, with William nicely asleep in his bedroom, we could terminate the year in front of a Spanish movie (not Italian as they always end up in tragedies). And we could make progress eating the pandoro, still intact in its blue box, while sipping Moscato d'Asti wine.

No, things didn't go as expected. Naima, William's little friend, invited him to a party. My husband and I went along with it. The party started at 3 pm, we opened the Prosecco wine at midnight (midnight in Italy was 6 pm in Boston) and by 8:30 pm it was all over. No hangover. No need to sleep the day after to recover. But we all had a great time, Italians and Americans. Naima's mother planned it well. I felt we were all "party moms and party dads" there, all trying to have a good time while making sure that our children were safe (one of the toddlers got caught with a glass of wine in his hands. Luckily there wasn't much in it). At some point William was ecstatically giggling with Naima and a couple of older kids. Meanwhile the grown ups got to chat and to savor the porchetta with the lentils (the traditional Italian New Years Eve dish I could barely remember, having lived abroad for more than 14 years). Eating that means "Good money and good health for everyone!", reminded me Naima's mother. No doubt, this was a nice start for all of us.