Sunday, April 29, 2012

Soccer and Poetry - Calcio e Poesia

What am I gonna do when I grow up?
Here we were in the car, driving to a shopping center, basically, a car park surrounded by a large circle of big-box stores. It seems that every Sunday afternoon, we go to these stores and we don't find what we are looking for but our credit card is invariably charged $100 (or more) on  things that we don't need but that it is nice to have.

This time we had a good reason - we had to find the outfit for Tronk's first soccer class- and we were even able to find what we were looking for. We were talking about this in the car when Tronk, all of a sudden, uttered these words:

"Un tetto di legno con le piume di carta indiana"
(A wooden roof  with the feathers of Indian paper)

Then he said:

"Siediti vicino alla casa con William, Daddy e Naima. C'e' spazio mamma!" (Sit down by the house with William, Daddy and Naima. There is enough space mom!)

Could it be that I picked the wrong activity for my son? Tomorrow, he will be wearing this one, then we'll see.

The day after, it was cold and windy so Tronk did not wear his Italian shirt but he did kick the ball with the foot and scored a few goals (see video below) - although, I must admit, he did it after reciting a poem he made up to the members of his team.


Friday, April 27, 2012

Mothers and fathers, you can be proud of yourselves - Mamme e papa', potete essere orgogliosi di voi stessi

There are probably few of you who have not seen the video below. It has come to me from so many sources! If not, watch this video and be moved because this is beautiful, well made, and touching.

But please don't forget that this is a marketing video - P&G  made it - and no matter what we say, a marketing video still remains. And please, if you decide to share this video with your friends, do not make comments like these: where are the fathers? This video was produced by P&G few days before Mother's Day. So please don't expect a collection of fathers playing horse games with their children.

Look, I am the first one to admit that in Italy we have a problem with the inability of men to become fathers and to do their job as fathers. And I am sorry to have to remind you mothers (and fathers!) - I know this is going to be harsh - that tomorrow's fathers, the ones that we hope one day will look after their children on a daily basis, are raised by us. Yes, it is up to us to raise them, with the knowledge that cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, setting and clearing the table, doing the laundry, etc are not "women chores" but "house chores" and that each member of the family is expected to take these in turn and successfully complete them. Failing to achieve this, in the future, there will be no fathers who can take the responsibility of being fathers. In Italy and elsewhere. 

Luckily, I have a father next to me that, if they ever had to produce a video, they would find his hands in the dryer, then folding clothes, towels and sheets and finally tickling Tronk to make him giggle so loudly only he can do it. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Who should be blamed? - Di chi e' la colpa?

This photo was posted today by zia Pina (Tronk's babysitter) on her Facebook page. That's right, my child is kissing his girlfriend on Facebook. The picture has already been liked by nine people and commented by four people in three different languages! The news is official and I already feel like one of those Sicilian mothers; sooner or later people will start asking me when is the big day!

I showed this to John and saw the typical worried look of the father... later explained by this comment: "wait until he goes to school and gets teased by the other boys for it. If that happens, I am afraid their friendship will fall apart!"

No doubts it's my fault. I should have not taught them to kiss. How do I tell them to stop? Tronk has just asked me to go buy flowers for her and then to take him (and Naima) for a ski weekend in the mountains!...

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Visit From The Spring Fairies - Visita degli Gnomi di Primavera

There comes a time when a baby boy is no longer a baby. He must part from the things he was attached to as a baby, he must rise up from his crib, make his way to a brand new bed and wave goodbye to his fifteen (or more) pacifiers, because those things are not for him anymore. There comes a time when a mother has to tell her baby that he is no longer a baby. This is not easy, especially when the thing you want your child to part from is the ciuccio (pacifier), the one thing who helped you (and generations of other mothers) overcome the baby blues, the precious friend which faithfully followed you later in motherhood, in the good and in the bad, to offer you support and an hour or two of peace, every day. I could always count on that instant calm that would wash over him when I was sticking the ciuccio in his mouth. This is hard to give up.

So, my dear pacifier, I have to say goodbye. I want you to know that for two and half years you have been very precious to me. I’ll never forget the special moments we shared. Thanks to you, we went to nice restaurants, art exhibitions, bookstores, museums and last year we even managed to sit through an entire evening event for adults, without a single cry coming from the stroller. I will never forget, dear ciuccio, the numerous instances when you were about to drop out of his mouth but you were still there hanging on. Two or three seconds later, he would invariably pull you back into his mouth like the curtain accidentally sucked by the vacuum cleaner. I remember this moment with strong emotions:  indoor, in complete silence, with aisles of books still carrying the smell of the printed pages, while outside a snow-storm or the torrential rain. And Tronk STILL ASLEEP in the stroller! With you still glued to his lips and the white blanket squeezed in his little hands. I felt I was in heaven perhaps for an hour, or two.

Thanks to you, Tronk was still a baby. Well, in my heart he still is.

Did I say I wanted you to leave? No, stay for a little longer, please. It is not about Tronk but also about me; I want to keep my baby, my space, that precious silence when he is asleep. I don't want to give all this up. Pacifier, stay, please!

"Doctor, are you telling me that I have to give up the pacifier? I mean... that William has to give it up?", I asked the pediatrician. "Yes, he's a big boy now, he doesn't need it! His rashes might be caused by that. Get rid of it!", he replied firmly. "Sure”, I said, with the tone of the teenager who has just been told by her mother to stop seeing a man who is not good for her.

No matter what everyone said (doctor, husband, mother, friends), I continued to feel that I couldn't live without it - I had one in almost every bag I own, one in the stroller, two on Tronk's bed, one in the car and several back up ones on Tronk's chest of draws. More than once, I went on a girls night out with a paci stuck in my purse! To later realize I was happy to have it; it was almost like carrying a bit of Tronk with me.

I promise we will never read Ciao Ciao Ciuccio again!
A book on waving goodbye to pacifiers later came in the mail. The first time I read it to Tronk he burst into tears and hated the book. He later decided that “Ciao Ciao Ciuccio!” was his enemy and that there was no way I could persuade him to pick up that book again without seeing some sort of displeasure in his face. The truth is I wasn't getting a good feeling from that book either. There was something missing. Why would a cat who is upset because he cannot find his pacifier suddenly decide to wave goodbye to it and make it fly away attached to a balloon when it turns up? Sorry, I am not buying it.

On the internet, there was a troupe of mothers having discussions about how to help their children overcome the binky addiction. Many of them were saying that the older the children get, the harder it becomes to do it.  

"Ok, the clock is ticking. We have to do it, whether we like it or not", I finally said to John.

Every day, the same questions: "When are we going to do it? This weekend? No, this weekend no! Next weekend! Ok ,done! No, we’ll be away! Ok, we'll do it the following weekend. What? We are flying to Italy! Ok, when we are back."

We cannot just make them disappear. Ultimately, we decided we had to steal his pacifiers away but we needed to come up with a nice story to cover our crime. "Ok, let’s go ahead with the spring fairies but we need to get him used to the idea". "Sounds good".

"Tronk? I ciucci sono per i bebe', non per i bimbi grandi. Tu sei un bimbo grande adesso! Dobbiamo dare i ciucci agli gnomi di primavera!" (Tronk, the binkies are for babies, not for big boys. You are a big boy now! We have to give the binkies to the spring fairies!), John and I must have said this in his room at least a hundred times in the last few months. Yet, before we were even finished uttering these words, the blue binky had already snapped onto his lips.

“The spring fairies are coming to take your ciucci. Would you like them to bring you a car in return?” He agreed immediately. Few days later, “No, voglio una macchina e un camion!” (No, I want a car and a truck!). Ok, deal.

So yesterday we finally did it! We asked Tronk to put all his ciucci in an envelope with a letter addressed to the spring fairies which we wrote for him.

What is this all about?
We then went to bury the envelope in the backyard and placed a large stone on top of it.

Tronk happily helped us do all this, without the slightest hesitation. Then bedtime arrived. Tronk was tired but nothing was making him go to sleep. He was trying to find excuses to stay awake. He kept saying: Non voglio dormire perche’ e’ primavera! (I don’t want to sleep because it's spring). At the end, he eventually did fall asleep, but after a fair amount of crying.

The following morning:

Fantastico!, he really said that.

We had another fair amount of crying the second night (back to the crying out method we used when he was a baby!) but we managed to get through it. I know this is going to take some time and efforts on our part - a bit like giving up breastfeeding, very sad and emotional, but it is good for all of us. We need to move on and do big boy things. So thanks for all your help, binkies. I will never forget what you did for my baby... and me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Dangerous Liaisons, Part Two - Amore Pericoloso, Seconda Parte

Today, when I got home, I found these on the kitchen counter.

Flower Blossoms Tronk Collected in Watertown

Zia Pina, who took care of Tronk in the afternoon, told me that he collected the flowers on his way to the playground. She tried to persuade him to give the flowers to a woman he met, who had been nice to him in the past, but Tronk insisted that the flowers were for me. Apparently, he came home at around 5 and ran as fast as he could to the kitchen, while calling my name, with the white flower blossoms still in his hands. I wasn't there so he was upset - he tried to throw the flowers in the garbage! Typical man. Then, when I arrived home, as soon as I saw the flowers, during storytime, Tronk said firmly that they were for me, not for the other woman.

He knew I would be touched by that, like he knows that when he says "mamma!" with the desperate tone, I get to melt like a piece of ice under the hot sun. In those moments, I feel I would do anything for him. He knows how to get to my heart and this frightens me.