Thursday, June 30, 2011

Italy has boosted William's vocabulary and self-confidence - In Italia a William e' venuta la lingua lunga

William making a phone call in Diano Marina
Thanks to the one month immersion program in Italy, Tronk's favella (his ability to speak) has started to show its first signs.
Last year, in order to better teach William Italian and about Italian culture, John and I decided to take William to Italy for one month per year. This may seem like a huge amount of time. In reality, when you spend half of it making plans with your parents and a third of it replacing the stroller that got broken during the trip, four weeks is just a tease! We have come to this decision because I used to spend five to six weeks in France every year as a child - that way I learned French and about French culture more than the kids who were taking French in school. If you learned some French at school, you probably learned to asked a simple question this way: "Est-Ce Que [PAUSE] tu [PAUSE] aimes [PAUSE] manger  [PAUSE] pizza?" and not this way: "t'aimes les pizzas toi?". The latter, is the way French people speak!

During the month we were in Italy, John worked most of the time while I tried to take William to day care every day so that he would have to deal with Italian teachers, Italian kids, language and culture.

William celebrating an Italian kid's birthday. Cake made of focaccia!

William drawing at  at the Mary Poppins center in Turin, Italy

Art work William made at the Mary Poppins center in Turin, Italy
Actually, doing this served well its purpose. I don't know if it was the different physical location, the amount of  TV he watched, the Italian kids he was playing with, all the nicotine and caffeine in the air or the terrible 2s approaching but, while we were there, his vocabulary most probably doubled and his confidence boosted:
"vai! dai! dimmi, dammi, mangia, mare, yourt, cane, gatto, cappello, faccia, naso, occhi, lanza (meaning ambulanza), pizi'a, bandane (instead of banana), his first three-syllable word, and also expressions such as dov'e'? (where is it?), guarda palla (look at the ball)!" and so on.
Together with an explosion of Italian words, I was hit by a stubborn and pissed off kid which at times I struggled to recognize:

When the bus driver was waiting for the traffic light to change, William would go:
"vai! vai! a vai? a vai?" ("go!, go! just go! just go!") [EVERYONE LAUGHED IN THE BUS]

When I was about to start feeding him but could not find his favorite car, he would scream:
"no, pappa no! pappa no, no, no!" (no, food no! food no, no, no!)
"dammi cento! cento?...
noooooo, dammi cento!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
(give me the cento car! cento car? you are not giving it to me? give it to me !!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

At times, he was cranky and inconsolable.  He would ask for "pizi'a", the polizia car, which he had previously hidden, say under the bed. Then if only I was trying to offer him another car, he would explode in rage! It had to be that car. 

In Italy, the day care teacher I liked (the one who was not drinking 10 coffee cups per day and who was not threatening the kids to call the police if they were not behaving) found William sweet but also lazy, capricious and a bit too
arrogant and independent (hopefully this is a good thing). She said that at times he was wondering off the room to do his own things regardless of the class activities she was running in that moment. On the positive side, in Italy the rebel learned to get on cars and on chairs all by himself, to wait in a queue with other kids in the bathroom to get his diaper changed, to eat and drink by himself and to elegantly sit on an adult chair, while waiting for dinner to be served. On the negative side, my toilet training there went out of the window! We sort of just stop doing it. His fault, my fault, our fault? I don't know but now as soon as I say the word "toilet", William runs away and goes "cacca no, cacca no, no, no!" followed by rage.

In Italy his difficult behavior forced us to go back to using the pacifier all day long, just like when he was two months old, until a week ago, when our old William decided to come back. Luckily, the sweet boy came back but the Italian words stayed! He replaced "bandane" with "banana", "yourt" with "yoghurt" and more expressions flourished:

"Anche mamma pappa?" (mamma is eating too?)
"Viene anche zia?" (is aunt coming too?)
"C'e' tu-tu la'?" (is the car over there?)his biggest long-lasting obsession
"Aniamo bimbi oggi?" (are we going to see the kids today?) Aniamo bimbi lena?(are you taking me to the swing where the kids are? - his new obsession
"Poi aniamo daddy?" (are we going to see daddy later on?)
"Ba-Bye bimbi!" - when I go to get myself a coffee
"Bene pappa"
"Thank you mamma!"
"Sorry daddy"

Apart from the poop thing, I am happy my old William is back, that he is learning English again, as well as to be polite and respectful towards others and to trust that in everything in life there is bad but also good and that, overall, it is better to expect good. Now when the police car arrives, the children at the playground no longer go "Scappa! Scappa!" (Run! Run!), but "Urra'!" It is nice to be back.

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