Monday, June 20, 2016

Kindergarten Changes - Cambiamenti in Kindergarten

Tronk's Jujitsu Classes
Tronk's first year in the American public schools is almost over and I am thinking about all the challenges faced by our family and changes this year. 

The biggest one has certainly been to get Tronk to eat a three courses lunch (entree', salad and fruit) in the miserable 20 minutes, given by school here in America. We had our days of struggles but in the end Tronk learned. I don't know if we should be proud of that, especially because it does not do any good to his digestion, but it will certainly help him stay away from the junk food trap most American kids fall into - they call them "snacks" - with the complicit support of almost everyone in society, schools included. This year we also managed to get a couple of American kids to eat lunch with us at the table. So special. 

This year Tronk has learned many things. He can now cross the road and ride his little scooter to his martial arts classes without supervision! He is more confident and he has learned to not believe in everything others say. Our favorite is that he has learned to ride his big bike. On Father's day, the three of us went for our first family bike ride: we went to Somerville and had dinner there in a pub with live Irish music.

In addition to becoming independent, this year he has also become more disciplined and wise.  In many instances I feel so proud of him: when I hear him tell his buddies that there is no need to constantly buy new Lego sets to create new toys and that they should use their imagination with the existent pieces they have; when I see him eating all his food seated at the table, while his buddies are playing in the other room; when he refuses brightly colored candies and popsicles; when he picks unaided the blue polo which matches perfectly with the blue in his plaid shorts; when he tells me off for wanting to help him do one of his jobs (e.g, taking the dirty dishes back to the kitchen).

This year Tronk has also started wondering whether Santa exists for real of whether it is just one of our friends (Filippo) who brings him gifts at Christmas and put them under our tree. I felt better after I was able to explain to him that our friend could not possibly bring him gifts under the tree every year during his entire life. Unfortunately, my explanation that the gifts are actually from baby Jesus was not at all convincing. He has become logical and science has become his primary interest since he started kindergarten. I saw a pattern in all his choices: his favorite movies, toys, books, magazines, events and museums are all about science. We read many books on Christmas from religious and non-religious sources, including a detailed scientific demonstration of the existence of Santa (and his marketing enterprise). Still, his doubts on the matter continued and I bet next year we would have to lock his bedroom door on Christmas Eve, before we put the presents under the tree.

Few weeks ago I was hit by a stone, just before we prayed, he started expressing doubts about God. How is it possible that I failed to pass to him my beliefs?

Me: "Tronk, andiamo a messa domani sera, ok?" (Tronk, we are going to Church tomorrow night, ok?). 
Tronk: "Quale Chiesa?" (What Church?) 
Me: "Ti ricordi quella Chiesa dove abbiamo visto tutti quegli angeli quando eri piccolo? Siamo andati la' lo scorso Natale, ricordi?" (Remember the Church  where you saw all those angels as a baby? We were there last Christmas), remember?. 
Tronk: "Com'e' possibile che il Signore ha tante case, una qui, altre in Italia?" (How come the Lord has many houses, one here, others in Italy?)

That night, he came up with more serious questions, like these:
Tronk: "Mamma, in realta' le domande sono due:  (1) come si e' trasformato il nulla in qualcosa? (2) che cosa era il nulla e come era fatto?" (Mom, in reality the questions are two: (1) how did nothing transform into something? (2) What was that nothing like and what was it made of?)
Me: "Buonanotte William. La notte porta consiglio". (Goodnight William. A good night sleep will bring the answer). I then closed his bedroom door and went to the kitchen to prepare his lunch for the next day. 

Boy, what an intense year we have had. What will happen next year? His short lunch time will grow even shorter plus we'll most probably have to move to a new school and a new country; even more challenging. I'll better leave this for my next posting. Before that, I have so much to think and do. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Life in Italy for One Month - Vita in Italia Per Un Mese

Day One

Our yearly Italy trip this year started in a different way, not with a stroll under the hot sun in the nearby market, but with a March fluffy snow shower covering the red roofs of Turin. While trying to take Tronk to school in my short jacket, with my light canvas shoes with the snowflakes melting on them, I was feeling cold, probably for the first time in twenty years, cold in my home town. Yet I was feeling happy, as I haven't felt in a long time. While drinking my second cappuccino  (I had forgotten the real taste of one) and eating apple filled fluffy pastries for breakfast (le barchette), I couldn't help thinking of those pretty, I should say cute, photos of Turin I  looked at so many times from the other side of the ocean. And I wanted to say loud and clear: Turin, I had forgotten how pretty you are when it snows! How could I ever not see that when I was in my twenties?

This morning Tronk got a warm welcome at his Italian school, the school he attends every year here in Turin, and these are the words we heard: "Wow! E' William! Il bambino americano! Io lo conosco! Anch'io lo conosco!  Che bello che e' ritornato! Vieni con me William!" (Wow! It's William! The American kid! I know him! I know him too! How fun he has come back! Come with me William!". And explosion of love  followed. Three or four teachers arrived and filled William with affection, the hugs and kisses I see very few moms giving their kids in public in the US.  Surreal and beautiful. 

Then I had a chat about my health issues and life in general with the sweetest landlady of all, sat next to me at the apartment's dining table, a nice lady in her sixties, - I felt I was talking to my old grandma Enrica, not to a landlady! She couldn't stop asking me what else she could do to help me in addition to come clean the apartment weekly and take the rubbish out for us. Special.

So here I am now, looking outside the large windows of a beautiful apartment in Turin, which happens to be next to my former Institute European of design school, the last school I attended in Italy, with the very last exam I passed to get my degree. I am getting ready to go have lunch in the bar downstairs under the arches. I will not need an umbrella and I will not get wet. At the bar at lunch the Italians find REAL food, including risotto, cooked from scratch for the office workers - what a cheap luxury!  And that happens to be the bar where I drunk coffee before going to take my exams at my former design school. I'll meet John and William there. Amazing and so weird to go back there with my Italian American family.

And I had forgotten the pleasure of meeting in a bar simply for coffee or for a healthy squeezed FRESH orange juice. And this is only day one of my Italy trip. Awesome. Really.