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!



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