Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fancy P-I-Z-Z-A? - Ci facciamo una P-I-Z-Z-A?

I often try to get my toddler to repeat words.

"William, try to say Rosso
, Ros-so, Ros-so. How about Giallo, Gial-lo, Gial-lo"

"Pikkeba' Putkaba' Tappete'!

Chabaye'? Neshdua'? Bashemna'?

Elle Elle Ashiba' Visha'is
Klai Klai Klai
Fashibi' Memnema'!

No luck. Once or twice, when I asked him to repeat "William", I heard him say Limiam or something like that but I am not so sure he understood I was making him say his name. Most recently, he has started making up his own words. Below are some recent additions to what I have decided to call the Tronk dictionary - for the new blog readers, Tronk is William's nickname:

Tui' Tui' = Ciui' Ciui' = Animals with Wings and Beak (e.g. sparrows, eagles, penguins)
Papa' = Pappa = Food
Olia = Oliva = Olive
Uiva =Uva = Gapes
Soe = Sole = Sun
Mae = Mare = Sea
Chiglia = Conchiglia = Shell
Gluu' = Iglu' = Igloo
Bimbo/a = Child = Big bird
Etta = Words that end in Etta = Anything

My husband often tells me to stop giving meanings to what William says. After all, he is only 20 months. Plus we are teaching him two languages (English and Italian). I was thinking: perhaps my husband is right. Perhaps at this stage, he is just experimenting with sounds!

Wrong. The boy understands more than we think!

After spending Sunday afternoon at the Boston museum of the JFK library (BTW, I was expecting to see piles of boring documents on display but, as usual, the Americans know how to entertain you! There were promotional banners, medals, all sorts of advertising stuff showing the power of the media in making JFK look sexy compared to Nixon, various rooms revealing episodes of his life, including his wife's beautiful clothes and the coconut shell he carved into, which saved his and his boat crew's life when he was stuck on an island in world war II. Worth a visit!). William was running around the various rooms in his blue, red and white outfit, occasionally posing.

William at the Boston museum of the JFK library
Sleeping? We tried putting him in the stroller. In the old days he would have fallen asleep immediately. Good old days! The boy wanted to finish his visit of the museum, so at the end of it he was exhausted. We were thinking of eating outside. Then we went home to get William to nap.

We hadn't had pizza for a while so we decided to go out for a pizza. When we go to restaurants, I usually spoon feed William a healthy meal I bring with me from home as I don't trust the quality of the average restaurant food in the US. I was not worried to bring William with us because in the last week or so William had been such a great eater - he has got back to eating almost anything! - plus I had William's favorite risotto with me so I had nothing to worry about.

This is what happened.

Sweetie, here is the risotto, the one you love.

No, no
! No, no, no, no!

What? You don't want to eat risotto? What's going on?

Pizza arrives at the table.

William: [GIGGLING]
Pitta! Pitta! Ehe ehe ehe ehe! [LAMB SOUNDS OF EXCITEMENT]
He, he, he, he [MEANING: GIVE IT TO ME, NOW!]

He heard us say the word "pizza" and, as a result, decided to wait for the treat.

From now on, we should not say "pizza" in front of the boy

Ok, from now on we'll say P-I-Z-Z-A. By the way, fancy an I-C-E C-R-E-A-M with C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E?

Who says that parenthood does not change us?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Working mom or staying at home mom? - Mamma in carriera o casalinga?

Most famous working woman illustration in America

Working mom or staying at home mom? Have you decided if you are going to sit at home and wish you worked, or if you are going to work and feel bad about babysitting or day care? Are you one of those who leave the kids with the grandparents and talks about not having time for yourself? May I ask you what you would do if your parents were not around? This is what I do.

William getting changed while having fun

I have decided to take care of my child. I spend my week cooking, feeding him, cleaning mess (poop included), singing silly songs, making noises, saying things that don't always make sense just to make him laugh, finding ways of entertaining him without him breaking into pieces against chairs or doors, without him making use of my lipstick to color the wall and without me gluing him onto the TV screen. Last but not least, figuring out ways to keep sane. Taking care of a toddler is tiring, constant, mostly physical and it never stops. I mean, it does stop sometimes but this is what happens when it stops.

When I see him in bed with his Muslin blanket covering half of his nose, the pacifier moving under the blanket like a ghost and his eyes half closed, I know that my free time has started. The clock is ticking. And these are the words that come to my mind: "Go go go! You are on break!".

I used to hear these same words at school as a child, when I could leave the classroom and go run in the back courtyard. That feeling of freedom was as exciting as the feeling of being free at home as a little girl when my mom and dad were going to nap. I could go out with friends I was not supposed to see, I could drink soda, later I could smoke on the balcony without being seen. Unfortunately, all that freedom would almost always end in disappointment. As a teenager, how can you feel happy at the end of a break if all you have managed to do during the break is browsing through the pages of your mom's favorite magazine called People (Gente)? At least that was better than the break I was getting in 1996 in England. In 15 minutes all I could do was smoking a cigarette or drinking a cup of coffee outside. Not that exciting.

What happens with my breaks now is not that different. As soon after I have put the boy to nap, I get all excited about working on the cool website I was thinking of when I was in the shower, about writing the posting on food I was meant to write a year ago but never started, about creating a new event for kids at my club and I am confident I will reply to that friend who has emailed me 4 times without me replying. Then what?

Then my eyes are caught by a duck in the floor, by a truck stuck in between the chairs of the dining room, by bits of zucchini and mandarino under the high chair. Then I see a piece of tomato, oh, it's one of William's toys! So I start trying to reach for toys scattered all over the floor, one by one, under the table, under the coach, under the arm chairs and almost always I end up with pieces that don't belong to anything. I use to go crazy to find the missing pieces. I now put the orphan pieces with other orphan pieces in a bucket, fix the broken ones if I can and put them away. Nice, I can now walk into the living room without having to climb mountains. I can go to my computer to design the website.

Nope! Food needs putting back in the fridge, I haven't eaten my lunch, the laundry needs doing. Oops, the boy is widely awake in his room with his sweet voice reaching for my heart: "mamma? mamma?" mamma?". And the more I make him wait, the more I feel bad so I have to go and pick him up. The hour break is over and what have I accomplished?

I have installed Photoshop for the third time.

I have always loved the beginning of a break but hey, how disappointing is the end! The best ones were perhaps the intervalli, the breaks I was getting at the classic lyceum (classic high school). Back then I was praying for the magic bell to ring so that I could get away from an oral examination on Latin or Ancient Greek just started. It was 12:00 pm (if I remember well) and the teacher had already finished asking me the long question I knew nothing about. I was first looking at the clock - it was 5 to 12 - and then at the teacher (she didn't have a stick but you could imagine her holding it), hoping for the magic bell to ring. Then... Driiiiiiiin! "Run run run, as fast as you can!", I was thinking. Nothing could possibly make that break disappointing. The closest breaks to that now are when friends call me and William has just gone to sleep. Awesome breaks!

There are days I feel really good because I manage to get things done and feel proud of it and really enjoy spending time with William, making jokes, watching him giggle, making the cars go up and down his garage ramps (his favorite thing). There are days I feel really crap. I find myself still in PJ at 2 pm, reading non sense on Facebook (e.g. today I am going to lift my soul... what a shitty day!, loads of bullocks, I am sick of the snow, I dislike women in short skirts, I am playing with my new Ipad, caught big fish while scuba diving in Florida) or I am browsing the pages of amazon, looking for I don't know what. The boy is sleeping but I am exhausted and I am no longer able to enjoy my free time. On those days I remind myself that:
  1. I don't want to ask someone else to raise my child
  2. "What? You don't want the scaloppine? I will try giving you this instead. Sorry, not the bread. You've had enough of that. I can't give you that. Eat the spinach! Here, I spoon feed you. No? No? Sorry, I still do. William, you either eat this or you jump off the window! Choose!" Do you think they would make all this effort at daycare?
    No, instead they would train him to eat Cheerios all day long. Sorry moms, but not even I could eat those things for lunch. They taste of cardboard! Nor I would like him to eat peanut butter and jelly - who the hell decided to give the most disgusting possible thing to small children? - and pieces of raw food or cold turkey. Please! And I wouldn't want him to drink tons of milk to make up for the lunch that he hasn't had. I wouldn't want him to snack all day long and, as a result, to miss his dinner, to miss his poop time and the good night sleep that follows.
  3. I wouldn't want my child to have to take sleep aids so that he falls asleep exactly when the other kids fall sleep in the daycare center
  4. I wouldn't want him to sleep with snacks or bottles of milk attached to him under a thin blanket barely covering his feet
  5. I don't want to have to beg him and praise him ("Good job William!") for pooping when he is 4 years old!
  6. I want to still hear my boy say "ma'mma! - pause - ma'mma! - pause - ma'mma!" the way he says it now and not "mommy, mommy, mommy!". And I want him to ask for "pa'ppa! pa'ppa! pa'ppa! or merenda", Italian word which makes me think of us sat at the table and not "snack", American word which makes me think of me throwing a packet of chips at him
  7. I hope that by the time William goes to school, he will know that "latte" is not a coffee drink for hipsters but that it simply means "milk" in Italian, that in life there are not always happy endings (the wolf does eat Little Red Riding Hood and her grandma - you'll better watch out for him!), that the Guidos are an American thing and that our world is not confined by the country where we live but by other things, most of which can be found in our roots.

    William and mamma coming out of the zoo
Most important of all, I am used to spending my days holding my boy, hugging him, enjoying the sweet smell in his neck when I kiss him, making him laugh, hearing his AWAa's kiss sounds, hearing his long speeches made of words like ashiba', klaim klaim and fashibi' , pushing him on the swing and hearing him giggle really loud, taking his little hand and let him run in stores, in the street and in restaurants, seducing hundreds of people - he can't help it! and sharing the things I love with him. Now tell me, should I pay someone else to do this?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dangerous Liaisons - Questo e' un Amore Pericoloso

I have not been blogging much recently because in addition to designing a website (it is live now!), I have been searching for a nice and inexpensive place in Italy where my husband can work online and where the three of us can spend a month without having to hear English or German so that William can learn Italian. What else? I have organized a couple of events for kids, I have played with the three pigs and the bad wolf nearly every day and I have been teaching Italian on Monday night. Isn't this enough to fill someone's life? No, it isn't. In addition to all this, I have had a painful love affair. Yes, don't be shocked, it happens to everyone. You might think I am crazy talking about it here but I feel I have gone crazy and need to tell the world all about it.

Sweet at the beginning: I was kissing him and he was kissing me back, all day long.
Then it quickly became...
I could smell him hours after my last contact with him.
I couldn't be happy when I was not getting kisses. Not so wonderful!
the feeling went through my skin and it started giving me a stomach ache
I couldn't stop thinking about him
I felt I would give up everything for a kiss, yet he was no longer kissing me. He was kissing a stranger instead!
Deceptive: I was doing whatever he was asking me to do, hoping that I would get his old sweet kisses. No, he continued to reject me!
Threatening: I threatened to leave. He said "NO!", "NO!", "NO!" and left. I even put him upside down, waiting for him to give up and give me a kiss. Nothing.
Stubborn: "NO! NO! NO!", this is all I am getting now.

I was destroyed. I wanted to cry.

Bad Boy William

I don't know who was more heart broken, whether it was John (my husband) or me, but a week ago, we both heard "AWUA'"!, "AWUA'"!, "AWUA'"!, "AWUA'"!. Guess what? William was kissing the penguin, the stuffed animal I gave him for Christmas! Still no kisses for us. He now kisses the damned penguin every day when he wakes up in the morning. And this is what John and I ended up doing out of desperation (by the way, nobody tells you that this is what happens when you have children):

John and I started kissing with the loud "AWUA''" sounds that William used to make! And William finally gave us a kiss. So worth it! We thought we had finally found the secret for getting those special wet kisses only William could give us but the little monster shook his head and went back to saying "NO!", "NO!", "NO!", sharp and loud.

John at 1 am: "It's all over, he will not kiss us again"
Me: "What sort of affair did we get into?"
John: "Wait, perhaps we put too many blankets on him!"

I thought his hostile reaction was only about giving us kisses then I started seeing a pattern. William was saying "NO!" to almost everything: to the food I was giving him, to the water bottle, to the dirty diaper I was trying to change, to the star shaped lamp that was not switched on - he loves that! -, to me not giving him his shoes to sleep with in bed and yesterday even to me giving him one banana instead of another! I swear, they were exactly the same.
Now tell me, have we been hit by the terrible twos?

William, mi dai un bacio?

Un bacino, per favore! NO? NO? NO? NO?

Mmm, here is your lunch William!

Apparently, there is a secret for successfully dealing with the cruelty of a two year old child. It is John who found it. It is called: playing! Trust me, it works! This is what John ended up doing at the end to get hugs and kisses. He started calling William "SALCICCIA!" (which in Italian translates into sausage) with wide open arms, while waiting for William to go hug him. Now when John does that, the little cruel guy runs as fast as he can to hug (and occasionally kiss) his dad. Magic, it works!  I have to come up with something similar to get the little monster to kiss me, otherwise my life is over.